How can I follow along?

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.

Attend our events; check out our resources!

Will there be another cohort?

We're working on it! If you're a potential collaborator, funder, or have recommendations as we brainstorm the sustainability of this program, we'd love to hear from you.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Do not hesitate if you have specific questions about fit.

Ideal projects may:

  • Have experienced recent growth and are navigating shifts in project or employee remuneration
  • Have experienced recent contraction and are navigating distribution of responsibilities
  • Have tried or have set intentions to address governance issues
  • Have tried or have set intentions to address meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Have succeeded in part or failed in part at any of the above
  • Are thinking about, designing, or implementing collaborative projects, lateral expansions, or other community-building efforts
  • Joint proposals are welcome. Feeling out a collaboration? Need space to consider a partnership? Would the ethos of such a confluence address questions of diversity, equity, inclusion, community health? We want to hear what you're thinking about - submit!

Selected projects must:

  • Be open source digital infrastructure projects or a subgroup of engineers, maintainers, or organizers within such a project
  • Have a point person or small team with interest and capacity to engage the Incubator cohort, paired mentor(s), and incubator program manager
  • Have awareness about the challenges their project faces and bandwidth available to try to address them
  • Have an interest in engaging research and other expertise concerning governance, sustainability, and community health
  • Be able to commit to 5-15 hours of synchronous and asynchronous work per month for six months (October 2021 - March 2022). This work may include designing and implementing a plan in collaboration with Incubator participants (advisor, program manager, cohort)

Interested projects need NOT:

  • Already have a clear idea of the research recommendations available to address challenges they face
  • Have a wealth of material resources available to or experience in addressing these challenges
  • Projects need not operate in English; Incubator participants need basic English-language fluency

Could you walk me through some of the terms you're using?

There are many definitions and applications for digital infrastructure, from broadband, to satellite communication, to code, and beyond. Recent, widely-disseminated works like Nadia Eghbal's foundational "Roads and Bridges" report have provided some common frameworks to connect efforts and problem solving across the ecosystem. Still, a wide range of affects and associations conjured by the phrase digital infrastructure - from concern for its precarity, to enthusiasm for the potential, to critiques of the forms of power and domination that it enables. At the same time, and with a similar scope but a longer history, there are a wide range of efforts to define and articulate standards regulating what is and what isn't open source. For more about what has informed our thinking about what constitutes open source digital infrastructure, the challenges facing the field, and an initial background bibliography, check out our About page.

At CS&S, our entry point to open source digital infrastructure comes via our work supporting open data and technology in the public interest. CS&S works to support projects that harness the power of open data to improve people’s social and economic lives through education and research. We consider open data an integral building block towards the building and maintenance of a healthy technological ecosystem and we typically work with initiatives that improve the public’s ability to find, collect, and share data to make more informed decisions. The Digital Infrastructure Incubator is one of our programs, alongside an Event Fund focused on Data Science and a Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

Projects hosted in the incubator may be initiatives like others we work with (ie collecting, managing, hosting data); they may be efforts focused on the interoperability, translation, management of existing databases; or they may be another configuration of work within the open tech ecosystem. If you have questions about the fit of your project, don't hesitate to email rayya@codeforsociety.

Update: we've Tweeted about this recently!

What’s the timeline?

Submissions accepted on rolling basis beginning August 16, 2021. Positions are open until filled. Incubator programming will run October 2021 through March 2022. Closing event to share out findings and results to stakeholders will take place in May 2022.

What will participants be doing in the incubator?

We anticipate that participants will spend between 5 - 15 hours per month in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous work between October and March that may include reading curated research recommendations (we will help you locate the research relevant to your challenge); note-taking, writing, drafting, iterations of documentation, processes, sketches, other solutions; sharing out these drafts for feedback from fellow cohort participants; consultations with invited mentors/experts; and/or other brainstorming with Incubator program manager, as needed. There will also be the opportunity to write up the experience/results of the incubator in individual or collaboratively authored resources.

How will you select participants?

We are looking to fill spots and begin programming efficiently with projects that seem to promise the best mutual fit. Expressions of interest submitted here will be reviewed for alignment with the goals of the program and then invited for a 1:1 conversation. The capacity of potential participants to engage the incubator cohort and programming is more important than the stage of org growth or experience individuals have addressing chosen challenges.

Who should apply?

Applicants should have interest in developing and implementing transparent documentation, strategy, or other visioning around questions of sustainability, governance, and/or community health, or a related question. They need not be project leads but should be in a position of leadership sufficient to draft and implement work undertaken in the program. Applicants may be individuals (or pairs or small groups) who are leading or convening initiatives surrounding questions of governance, sustainability, and/or community health. Applicants may also be potential collaborators across different projects.

Who are the mentors and expert advisors the incubator will host?

Mentors will be industry leaders invited to engage the specific challenges projects identify. They will be announced after participants have been selected and with their input. Mentors may cycle through the incubator as project needs evolve.

Where did the money come from, what can funds be used for, and when would they be dispersed?

The Digital Infrastructure Incubator is part of a cohort of grant funding provided by the Ford Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Omidyar Network and the Mozilla Open Source Support Program in collaboration with the Open Collective Foundation. Read more about the cohort and funders here.

Awarded funds of $5,000 for incubator participants may be used to compensate applicant’s time and other expenses and will be dispersed in one sum at the beginning of the cohort.

What happens after the 6 months?

We expect to write up results of incubator engagements in public-facing documentation that may be individually or collaboratively authored. There will also be an event to highlight cohort activities and share out participant projects funders and stakeholders in late spring 2022.

Who or what is influencing your thinking?

It might be helpful to know who we’re thinking with/how we got here. Check out some initial resources on our About page.

I know someone who'd be great for this. Do you accept nominations or referrals?


Send additional inquiries or suggestions to:

Rayya El Zein, Digital Infrastructure Incubator Program Manager rayya@codeforsociety.org