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ICANN opens $217 million Grant Program

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2024, 16:49:29 (UTC), Domain Policy

Ten million bucks of ICANN’s money is up for grabs, starting today.

The Org has opened the application window for the first stage of its Grant Program, which it hopes to eventually see hand out over the $217 million that it raised auctioning off contested gTLDs during the 2012 new gTLD program application round.

In this first phase, up to $10 million will be distributed, in tranches of between $50,000 and $500,000, to projects that align in some way with ICANN’s technical and internet governance missions.

Only registered non-profits are allowed to apply.

The application window is open until May 24, and ICANN expects its board of directors to make its final decision in December, before grant contracts are signed early next year.

Successful applicants are expected to begin their funded projects, which should last no more than two years, within 60 days of receiving the money, so presumably the cash will start actually making a difference about a year from now.

In a blog post, ICANN CEO Sally Costeron urged readers to spread word of the program on social media, specifically naming Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WeChat, which appears to be a platform used primarily in China.

With ICANN occupying a rarefied, occasionally incestuous corner of the internet, there’s obviously a risk of the perception that the money will be doled out primarily to community insiders, but the rules ban anyone who was involved in crafting the program’s rules from participating.

The rules also ban applicants from using ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, such as the Independent Review Process, to challenge adverse grant decisions, and ICANN wants to change its bylaws to also ban third-party non-applicants from using IRP to appeal decisions they don’t like.

Details on the Grant Program can be found here.

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