In May, Mozilla and the Shuttleworth Foundation announced a new Education for the Open Web Fellowship. The aim is to support practical ideas that help people learn about, improve and promote the open nature of the internet, as part of our commitment to supporting leaders working at the intersection of open education and the open web.
While response was promising, we did not feel any of the submissions were far enough along to award the fellowship in July as planned. So we’ve decided to a) push back the application deadline to October 17, 2010, to allow existing applicants to further strengthen their pitch and new applicants to throw their hat into the ring; and b) offer the early stage proposals a chance at small grants that will help them get off the ground.
We’ll also offer travel scholarships for three promising early stage projects to participate in the Mozilla Drumbeat “Leaning, Freedom and the Web” Festival in Barcelona this November.
What are we looking for? And how can you make your pitch stronger?
Based on learning from the first round of fellowship applications, here are five things we encourage applicants to consider in writing up their idea:
1) Tell us your story. The person behind the project is as important as the project itself.
We want to know about the social entrepreneur or visionary behind the project. The fellowship basically pays the salary for one person for one year — so finding out exactly who that person is is important. Create and flesh out your profile page on Drumbeat.org to tell us more about your mission in life, your bio, and your “big picture.”
2) Community engagement and participation are key.
The best project proposals will clearly spell out how they’re going to engage communities and enable participation from real people. This is crucial — and often difficult to achieve in real life. So be sure to provide some meat around how your project will enable meaningful participation and community engagement. Simply saying something like “we’ll move an existing offline community over to online” or “we’ll reach out to community x or y” is probably not specific enough.
3) We’re looking for cross-pollination between open education and the open web.
The best projects aim for innovation in both the education and open web space. Great educational initatives that happen to have a web site or some online component aren’t quite it. And neither is simply building online tools or software for education projects. The best projects are true hybrids — ideas that can help reinvent education and make the web better at the same time.
4) Include a roadmap.
Promising people and ideas are great. But baked strategies and plans are even better. Try to include a clear roadmap of how you’ll spend your fellowship year, with an emphasis on outcomes, milestones and tangible products.
5) Make a great video.
If at all possible, include a short video or slide presentation. It can be as simple as you explaining the project to your web cam. You can also check out examples of other successful Shuttleworth Fellowship application videos for inspiration.
Remember: it’s not a competition — it’s a community.
Collaboration and communication between projects is encouraged. Let’s use this as a jumping off point for building ties and connections to each other that help grow the space. Check out and comment on the gallery of existing project proposals or rope others into collaborating around similar ideas.
There’s multiple ways for your project to get recognition and help.
In addition to the one-year fellowship, all applicants will be eligible for Mozilla Drumbeat’s new monthly grants for featured projects — which include $1,000 and hands-on help from Mozilla. Plus a chance to receive a travel scholarship for the Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona on November 3 – 5.
The fellowship grant amount will be equivalent to one year’s salary, and includes contribution toward expenses and travel — plus potential access to an investment pool that will match personal investments in projects by at least ten-fold. Fellows may also receive help with online fundraising, and future support in seeking grants from other sources.
The deadline for all applications is October 17.
To apply, simply fill out a project page and personal profile at Drumbeat.org. Project proposals must follow the original guidelines outlined here. Fellowship recipients will be announced by the end of the year.