Application Guidelines

In this section of the Guide we address the basic building block information that is relevant for all applicants as they prepare to apply to an Open Call Fund or Fellowship.

Covered Topics

The following topics are discussed in this section. Applicants can review the topics in order, or choose to click on a specific title and immediately jump to that subject (in doing so, please keep in mind that all the information below is relevant for all applications).

Note: By using the toolbar on the left, you can also check out the sub-pages of this section to review additional specific guidelines for individual funds or fellowships.

Priorities

Applicant priorities

Applicants must have a strong understanding of the challenges posed by surveillance capitalism and a passion to see these harms end. In turn, all successful applications must demonstrate the applicant's idea or vision of their role in ending these harms and how support from Reset through an Open Call award will help augment that vision. A clear way to broadly disseminate project outcomes, and a general excitement to be involved in these efforts, are also required.

Reset priorities

We seek out proposals from all around the world, prioritising interventions and projects that we believe will have the greatest global effect. Projects that clearly complement one or more efforts to positively shift policy, market, or social norms, or produce other technical outcomes, receive our highest priority.

Every project Reset supports must conduct activities within on or more of our supported Areas of work and be a direct attempt to advance our Goals (generally speaking, the first items listed in our Goals and Areas of work are the ones most important to us). Such projects will necessarily address Our vision's most pressing threat (surveillance capitalism) or one or more of the Other harms, challenges, & obstacles outlined in this Guide (or, alternatively, teach us about a new one). They will also meet all required criteria for the particular Open Call.

Review panel & process

Our Open Calls are a competitive process with publicly available open applications. The number of applications approved for funding from a round of Open Calls varies depending on the quality of applications, our capacity, and priorities.

All submitted applications will be reviewed by members of the Reset team. Based on this initial review, selected applications may be invited to submit additional information. Finalists are reviewed by an independent panel of experts with deep knowledge and insight into the topics related to our Goals (panelists may, for example, include members of our Advisory Council or partner organisations). For more details on the various stages of review, check out our Decision Process overview.

Note: Approval is not guaranteed at any stage of the application process. Given the high number of applications Reset receives for each Open Call, the likelihood of success for any particular application is low.

Application deadlines

Applications for all our Open Calls are accepted on a rolling basis. You can choose to submit at any time throughout the year, with “round” deadlines occurring every other month (January 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, September 1, and November 1). Applications must be submitted no later than 23:59 (11:59PM) GMT on the date of the deadline in order to be considered as part of that round. If a submission is received after that time, it will be reviewed as part of the next round. Reset reviews applications at the end of each round.

Note: To make sure you're always up to date on any changes to our Open Calls, and to learn about other Reset funding opportunities, sign up for Reset announcements.

Eligibility

Reset does not have any requirements regarding an applicant’s status - whether for-profit, nonprofit, or a single individual. A consortia of multiple people, or organisations of just one individual, or an organisation designated as the lead applicant are all welcome to apply. Applications will be considered so long as their proposed efforts fit within the Goals, objectives, & areas of work requirements for all Open Call projects.

Note: Applicants may be located in or organised under the laws of any country, except for any country on which the United States, the United Kingdom, or the European Union has imposed trade restrictions or export sanctions.

Restrictions

Applicants must not provide any type of support for any member, affiliate or representative of a designated terrorist organisation, whether or not elected members of the government.

Areas of work

Ideal applications will fit within one of these four Areas of work:

  • Policy/Advocacy: Develop and advance a global public policy agenda that sets fair rules and standards for Big Tech companies, ensuring they better serve democracy.

  • Research: Study the ways technology is harming democracy, how this can be reversed by creating better technology, and how to design effective legal and regulatory systems.

  • Technology: Design and implement both existing and new tools that support in-depth research, activist engagement, and educational insights into surveillance commerce and digital threats to democracy, and viable virtuous alternatives to the dominant exploitative platforms.

  • Civic Engagement: Educate the public about the problems caused by digital threats to democracy and the subversion of the internet.

When in doubt, apply.

Problems addressed

All successful projects will address Our vision's most pressing threat (surveillance capitalism) or one or more of the Other harms, challenges, & obstacles outlined in this Guide.

When in doubt, apply.

Note: The Open Call applications for both funds and fellowships ask applicants to answer the following question when describing their proposed project: "What problem or challenge does this address?" This question is intended to provide an opportunity for applicants to describe the problem they hope to solve and demonstrate how that problem is tied to surveillance capitalism or one of the other interrelated obstacles Reset is working to overcome.

Ideal applicants

Applicant criteria varies for each Open Call and specific criteria may be found in each Open Call description. In general, however, we are purposefully looking to support a diverse mix of partner organisations and individuals. Consistent with our Principles & values, we are particularly interested in receiving applications from individuals, or from organisations with key team members that will be working on the project, who consider themselves underrepresented within the communities and fields affected by (or responding to) surveillance capitalism.

We strongly encourage applications from computer scientists, human rights scholars, human-computer interaction researchers, anthropologists, ethnographers, statisticians, and mathematicians who are seeking to apply their scientific and technical skills to social problems. In addition, we welcome all those whose Priorities align with ours, including general technologists, software developers, engineers, information security researchers, data scientists, data visualisation experts, digital rights defenders, designers, lawyers, researchers, community organisers, social scientists, artists, advocates and activists, educators, journalists, entrepreneurs, industry actors, policy analysts, public intellectuals, those who recently served in a government office or position, and those whose practice doesn’t fit squarely into conventional categories. We encourage organisations with such individuals (who will be working on the proposed project as key team members) to apply as well.

We also encourage individual applications from independent scholars and individuals employed by universities, civil society organisations, and corporations (including those on sabbatical). We are disciplinary agnostic and welcome people from critical, empirical, technical, legal, and humanistic fields.

When in doubt, apply.

Note: In an effort to empower new talent and ideas, Reset will prioritise projects coming from individuals or organisations who are new to the digital rights community, identify as underrepresented within related fields, and are requesting less than $300,000 for efforts within a 12-month period or less. Applicants already receiving support or known to other Omidyar Group organisations are eligible for Open Call awards. That said, applicants new to us will generally be considered to be more competitive.

Note: Reset does support projects that are commercial or proprietary in nature, but such projects are less likely to be approved for funding because Reset places a high priority on funding the creation or ongoing support of projects that are open-source and freely available to download and use because these projects ensure a lower barrier to user adoption (and are thus more consistent with our Goals & objectives).

Target beneficiaries

When completing your application, you will be asked to indicate what group(s) of people you aim to serve, as well as which geographies. In asking these questions we want to know who you believe your project will help the most. In answering, please resist the temptation to select all that might apply - we are most interested in your top priorities/the people and areas you know your work will impact.

As context, we are most interested in supporting efforts that will lead to better policy in places where the positive effects will be felt by more people than just those within the country/area where the policy was implemented. The global effect of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a great example of this type of broad reach.

Work with outcomes focused to intervene or affect policy in the European Union, United States, or United Kingdom are clear priorities for us. Nonetheless, you should still apply even if you do not identify your work as focused in these regions - especially if you are convinced the work will have wide effects. For example, we see opportunity for litigation in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to advance policy throughout Latin American or Australian policy change to have effects throughout Oceania and East Asia.

When in doubt, apply.

Note: A competitive application does not have to directly engage in Policy/Advocacy as an Area of work, but it does need to clearly show how the outcomes for the selected beneficiaries will result in outcomes that will, or could, lead to policy change. For example, the research and technology projects that ultimately helped to justify the need for the GDPR by demonstrating the significant misuse of data would have been in scope (and still are for enforcement purposes, or to point out limitations for future policy).

Commitment to diversity

Reset seeks to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into our work. We are committed to providing equal opportunity and an environment free of discrimination. For Open Calls, this means we will consider all applications equally, without regard to race, creed, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, alienage, citizenship, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, status as a victim, or any other classification protected by applicable local law.

Overhead costs

*Reset typically supports projects, not overhead.

Awards from our Open Calls generally do not support standalone costs which are not directly associated with the completion of objectives or deliverables. For example, indirect costs such as operational or administrative expenses are not supported. This policy is in part due to the contractual vehicle we primarily rely upon to award Open Call applications. It also ensures that programmatic funds are focused on accomplishing our goals.

In the limited instances where Reset determines that an overhead cost would be permitted, such costs cannot be greater than 10% of the overall cost of the award. Projects seeking an exception to the general prohibition on overhead costs bear the not insignificant burden of clearly demonstrating how the lack of such an inclusion will prevent the completion of the project’s objectives.

Note: In the very limited instances where Reset decides to give a core or general operating grant, the above does not apply.

The honorarium

Coming soon...

Application video

As part of the Open Call process, we may ask you to provide a video to introduce yourselves, explain what you're doing and why, and tell us anything else you would like about the project or other key team members. Please note that providing such a video is not required. Providing a video is simply an opportunity for applicants to illuminate the human side of the submission process (note that the significant amount of time required to review all applications rarely provides the opportunity for Reset team members to engage applicants in a face-to-face manner during the review process).

In making the request for such a video, we acknowledge the valid concerns it may raise (anxiety, bias, time, etc.). If you think providing a video will help you highlight something in your application not easily conveyed elsewhere, and are comfortable providing one, consider doing so. If not, do not include a video.

If you are considering providing a video with your application, please observe the following recommendations:

The video should be one minute long (or less) and should contain nothing except you or others talking.

No screenshots or post-production wizardry please; we don’t want this to turn into a video-making contest. If you’re going to spend time making something cool, put it into your project.

This is not the place to submit a demo or promotional video.

If you have a demo for your project, there is a place in the application for that. We don't, however, want to see any promotional video. We're only interested in how you and your partners (if applicable) communicate.

If you have more than one key partner or team member, try to have them in the video.

If you can't be in the same room at the same time, you may want to record a video conference conversation instead.

Don't mark it as private or disallow embedding.

If you do, we won't be able to see the video. Please note that because of how our system is built, the view count may not increase even when we do watch your video.

If you are in a country where services like Vimeo or YouTube is unavailable, you may use an alternate service (like YouKu for China).

If you use YouKu, you may want to set a password on your video. You can provide the password in the application.

Please do not recite a written script.

Simply talk spontaneously, as you would to a friend, about yourself/your project. People delivering memorised speeches (or text read off the screen) usually come off as rigid - defeating the point of providing the video.

Please do not add any background music to your video.

Just you, please. Nothing more.

Watch your own video before you submit.

Make sure you can hear what you are saying! A surprising portion of the videos we get are in fact inaudible. If you’re going to take the time to provide a video, you may as well send one we can hear.

Review criteria

The following is a list of criteria Reset uses to evaluate all applications:

  • Quality of project idea: Applications should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to Reset and its mission, as well as the focus and priorities of the specific request.

  • Ability to achieve objectives: A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organisation or individual. The work plan should adhere to the overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Any overhead and administrative components included in the application should be kept as low as possible. All items should be necessary and appropriate. Cost-sharing and/or matching funds from other sources is strongly encouraged and is viewed favourably by Reset.

  • Multiplier effect/sustainability: Applications should address how the expected results will contribute toward our goals. Applications should address how the effort will be sustained in the longterm.

  • Applicant's record and capacity: Reset will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.

Term

Awards are generally 6 to 18 months in duration (and no more than 24).

Fellows commit to working between 10, 20, 30, or 40 hours a week for a term of either three, six, nine, or 12 months in duration. Applicants who would like to apply for a fellowship but cannot commit to a full term, or have a specific start date in mind, should specify so in their application.

Note: On occasion, Reset may consider applications seeking to extend existing contracts beyond the initial project period. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of Reset priorities.

Funding

Reset awards are performance-based contracts or project funding agreements signed directly with the applicant. Reset has no legal obligation to make any payments unless and until an agreement is completed to the full satisfaction and executed by both parties. For contracts and project funding, payment is issued on completion of stated objectives, activities, and/or deliverable per a schedule outlined in the application and agreement.

Based on the current priorities of the program, applicants are limited to one grant award from an Open Call. Once the term of an award expires, including any extension granted beyond the initial project period, an applicant is not eligible to apply for an Open Call. This limitation applies on an applicant-by-applicant basis. For example, an individual that receives an award is also able to apply for a different project on behalf of an organisation, and two for-profit businesses with the same owner are each eligible to apply for an award.

Applications that request more than the award ceiling of $600,000 USD, or less than the award floor of $5,000 USD, may, at our discretion, be deemed technically ineligible. Note that our target support ceiling is $300,000 USD, with most supported efforts receiving between $50,000 USD and $200,000 USD.

Fellows will receive a monthly stipend based on the number of hours per week they commit to working, a travel stipend of up to $5,000 USD (depending on project needs), any hardware needed such as a computer or mobile device, and access to Reset internal resources (depending on project needs). The hourly rate for all fellows is $40 USD. As a result: a fellow committing to 20 hours per week for nine months would permit a total of $28,800 USD (dispersed in $3,200 USD/month payments). A 30-hour-per-week commitment for 12 months would permit the fellow to $57,600 USD (dispersed in $4,800 USD/month payments). A 10-hour-per-week commitment for three months would permit the fellow $4,800 USD (dispersed in $1,600 USD/month payments).

Note: When deemed in the best interest of Reset priorities, Reset reserves the right to award less (or more) than the amount of funds requested, or suggest an alternate agreement type than that which was requested.

Visas

All individuals must acquire the appropriate work authorisation. Applicants will need to secure their own visa and work permit (if applicable). We are happy to provide visa letters upon request.

Monitoring & evaluation

Reset views monitoring and evaluation as a way to learn from the partners we support, share lessons learned with future applicants, and raise our partners' profiles with other potential funders and the public. Consistent with our Goals & objectives, this type of activity improves the collective knowledge of the community and contributes to its overall sustainability.

Accordingly, monitoring and evaluation assessments are predominately based on predetermined and agreed-upon metrics (such as deliverables and goals), as set out in the performance-based contract or funding agreement (as applicable). Successful applicants can expect regular contact with their assigned Reset team member (and host organisation, if applicable). Monitoring consists of monthly reports and phone, email, or in-person discussions and consultations as needed. We typically ask successful applicants to submit brief monthly updates about their work to Reset, their host organisation (if applicable), and the broader Reset network. This allows others to review and comment on ongoing work, further encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Collective commitment

Applicants and partners in our network must share Our vision, strive to uphold our Principles & values, and hold us accountable by providing feedback - especially if that feedback is critical.

Terms & conditions

The following terms and conditions apply: