July 2022 Community Meeting Recap

On July 16, 2022, ARDC held its second community meeting of the year. There were just over 30 attendees. Below is a recording of the meeting and a recap. In addition to watching the video, you can download the slides. Times are included in square brackets, so that you can quickly fast forward to a particular topic. For example, discussion of staffing updates begins at the [2:00] mark.

After some housekeeping announcements, Merideth, KK7BKI, announced some staffing updates [2:00]. The first announcement is that ARDC is contracting with long-time Technology Advisory Committee volunteer Tim Požár, KC6GNJ, as a technology management consultant.

The second announcement is that we are now in the interviewing stage for the Director of Technology position. There have been many great applications, and Tim will be helping us find and hire the best candidate.

Grants Update [3:00]

Next, Chelsea, KF0FVJ, gave the group an update on our new grants process, noting that it allows us to process more proposals in less time. Chelsea also noted that the website has been updated to make applying for and tracking grants easier. We have updated the instructions page, refined our grantmaking categories and made them more concise, and added a page to inform grantees about what happens after they get a grant. Finally, she noted that grantees and others involved can give us feedback anonymously.

Chelsea then got down to facts and figures. In the first half of 2022, we awarded over $5.6 million to 61 projects. Approximately $2.5 million went to amateur radio projects, $1.9 million to education projects, and $1.2 million to R&D projects. Overall, 86 proposals were submitted and we funded 56% of those proposals. Chelsea noted that while 56% is a relatively low acceptance rate, well-thought-out proposals to eligible organizations still stand a good chance of being accepted.

Chelsea also addressed some trends that we’ve noticed. In amateur radio, for example, many of the grants are for projects that aim to introduce amateur radio to new audiences and for projects that will increase capacity for established ham clubs in the U.S. She noted that while we love funding these projects, we would like to see more R&D proposals and proposals for funding international projects.

Next, we took a deeper dive into a couple of projects that we found noteworthy. The first is a grant to the Sangamon Valley Radio Club, who will use the grant to conduct Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) events for amateur radio clubs and youth groups such as 4-H, Civil Air Patrol, and Scouts. One cool feature of this project is that it is designed to be a prototype for other groups wanting to set up their own ARDF activities.

The second is a grant to the National Radio Observatory (NRAO), which operates radio telescopes around the world, including the Very Large Array in New Mexico and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile. The goal of this project, called Exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum (and Why Amateur Radio Matters), is to educate emerging generations about the electromagnetic spectrum through an interactive, substantive experience with amateur radio. In particular the program will focus on broadening the excitement of amateur radio among BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students. With this grant, the NRAO will develop a scalable curriculum to be shared nationwide and internationally.

The third is a grant to the Central Michigan Emergency Network to replace the 3.4 GHz equipment they’re currently using with 10 GHz links and to expand their network across the State of Michigan. In addition to expanding the number of point-to-multiple-points (PtMP) access points, they are going to provide 18 local clubs with client radios. The clubs will loan those radios to their members to help promote the use of the technology. When the project is complete, the network will connect 59 different sites over 610 miles of point-to-point microwave links.

Chelsea finished up the discussion of grants by noting the final deadline for grant applications in 2022 is October 1 [13:20] She then noted that we will switch over to a new grants management system called Hypha. Information about this new system is available on our website, and of course, we’re available to help you if you need it.

Hamfests and More Hamfests [14:40]

John, K7VE, then gave a report on the hamfests and conferences that we attended in the first half of the year, including:

Our schedule doesn’t let up in the second half of 2022. We’ll have a presence at the following hamfests and conferences:

As John noted, we look forward to attending these events and meeting with you all. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to meet us in person at one of these events by emailing contact@ardc.net.

44Net Update [18:00]

The rest of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of 44Net. First, Tim Požár, KC6GNJ, discussed the upgrades being planned for the 44Net portal. With a lot of input from the members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the requirements document is nearing completion.

The meeting was then handed over to Matt Peterson, K6MPP, one of the principals of the consulting firm TwoP, who has been conducting our 44Net assessment [20:00]. The first step in this assessment was to conduct a survey of current users and potential users. Matt noted that there were more than 1,700 responses to the survey, which gives us a lot of data to work with.

Matt gave a high level overview of some of the survey findings, including requests for better documentation and for easier points of entry. The next step in the assessment will be to conduct a number of focus groups. Once the focus groups have been held, TwoP will publish a full report, and with that data, we will begin looking at ways to make 44Net more useful and usable.

At this point [39:00], Rosy asked the participants several questions, including “What actions or support are critical to making 44Net more accessible?” and “What are examples of cool use cases of 44Net?” As you can imagine, these questions generated quite a bit of discussion among the participants.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and if you weren’t able to be with us live, please watch the video and give us your feedback. Your input helps us make better decisions about grants and about the direction to take 44Net. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

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New grants management system to make applying for and tracking grants easier

Since ARDC began awarding grants, we’ve been using a software package called HotCRP. While HotCRP has served us reasonably well, it’s designed to manage conference paper submissions, not grant applications.

Enter Hypha. Hypha is an open-source submission management platform designed to receive and manage applications for funding. It’s easy to use, secure, privacy-focused, and has a modern user interface. This should make it easier for grantees to navigate the system.

Other features that we feel make it a better choice for us include:

  • the ability for us to more easily send messages to grantees when an application has been awarded or rejected,
  • the ability for our reviewers to score applications, and
  • more sorting features that will make it easier for us to track our awards.

Most importantly, Hypha is highly customizable. Over time, we’ll be able to add plenty of features that will help manage active grants as well as grant applications.

All applications received after July 15, 2022, will be reviewed and evaluated using Hypha! If you have submitted an application after that date or have an incomplete application, you’ll need to enter your information in the new system. The questions are all the same, so it should be a fairly easy process.

To set up an account, go to https://grants.ardc.net and click the Apply button. Note that even if you had an account on our old system, you’ll have to set one up on our new system.

If you have any questions about the new system, or are having trouble applying for a grant, contact us by emailing help@ardc.net.

Many thanks to our technology partners at Open Tech Strategies for their work bringing Hypha to life. And many thanks to our grant applicants who make the work we do at ARDC worthwhile.

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Join us on Saturday, July 16, for our next community meeting

Community meetings have become a tradition at ARDC. It’s a chance for us to keep you up to date on the things that we’re working on and the grants we’ve made, and it’s an opportunity for you to share your ideas and opinions.

The next ARDC Community Meeting will take place on Saturday, July 16, 2022 at 1700 UTC (10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm GMT). Topics will include:

  • Grants awarded in the first half of 2022
  • 44Net Assessment
  • Search for a new Technology Director
  • Q&A

The meeting will take place via Zoom. Here’s how to join:

URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89339891729?pwd=a5rHVroSUioKOP_UtP3tLH8O6_dDxn.1

Meeting ID: 893 3989 1729

Passcode: ARDC

To join by phone, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbv7ReoauQ to find your local phone number.

You can find recordings of previous community meetings by visiting our Vimeo channel.

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ARDC is looking for a Director of Technology

ARDC is growing again! This time we’re looking for a Director of Technology. This person will be someone that:

  • Can work with ARDC staff, volunteers, and board to develop an overall vision for our technology.
  • Help manage and modernize 44Net.
  • Manage and participate in the development of open-source technology projects.

Experience and history with amateur radio and the internet is required. Many of the people we work with, projects we take on, and community we make grants to are rooted in amateur radio, with a long history and legacy. Also, this role is a hands-on job. Our expectation is that this person can manage our existing contractors and volunteers, while also participating technically.

We are offering a competitive salary, depending on location and experience. Benefits include:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
  • Medical insurance premium stipend reimbursement
  • Matched contribution retirement plan
  • Option for 32/hour workweek (5 days, .8 FTE); some flexibility in work hours

View the complete posting and apply here!

And send any questions you may have to contact@ardc.net.

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What makes a good proposal?

Some pointers for making your proposal stand out.

As ARDC grows, we’re getting more proposals than ever before, and the way we evaluate grant proposals is evolving. Of course, we’re still looking for proposals that support and promote amateur radio, advance education, and advance the state of the art in amateur radio and digital communications. What’s different is how we evaluate the proposals: we now have quarterly review cycles and a ranking system that uses consistent criteria. Given this new framework and increase in competitiveness, here’s how to improve your chance of success.

Credit: Pexels.com

First of all, make sure that your proposal meets ARDC’s goals. These include empowering individuals and small organizations, benefitting the widest community possible, inclusion of under-represented groups, and preservation of the individual’s right to innovate. Projects that we fund must also be accessible and usable by all. If a project is a development project, the hardware, software, and documentation must be open source so that others can use and learn from the work.

Next, we’ll look at how your project is structured, including its key objectives. Your proposal should clearly state what you intend to accomplish and why. We’ll also look to see that you have a project plan that outlines the steps you plan to take to accomplish your goals. The plan should include a list of the people who will be working on the project, the expertise they bring, and the amount of time you expect them to work on it.

As part of this process, we’ll look at the budget. Your project’s budget should be appropriate for the results you want to achieve. We encourage grantees to use the most modern technology available—although we recognize that in some cases older technology may be the most appropriate choice. If that is the case, please provide an explanation supporting your technology choice. We also encourage grantees to choose high-quality equipment, but we don’t want to see unusually high-dollar expenses without an explanation for why it is needed. Similarly, use volunteer labor when appropriate, but hire professionals if you don’t have adequate experience on your volunteer team.

Making an impact

There are other factors that will affect the success of your proposal. For example, when appropriate, please tell us how the project’s outcomes will be maintained and continue to have an impact beyond the lifetime of the grant. We also look favorably upon projects that will be regularly used and maintained, even if they are designed for a specific event.

If your project is designed to benefit a particular community, your proposal should show that it has community support. This can be in the form of financial support, donated equipment, or volunteer time. If a project supports or becomes part of city, county, or state infrastructure, it is important that those applications include letters of support from those government agencies.

Having said all that, we’re also looking for projects with some special sparkle. In the spirit of innovation and flexibility, we may fund exceptional projects that don’t perfectly align with our stated criteria or categories.

You’ll find more information about how to submit a grant application on the Instructions for Submitting an ARDC Grant Application page. If you still have questions, email us at giving@ardc.net to set up a time to talk. Our staff can answer questions about our process or give you advice on if we think a proposal for your project is likely to be successful before you begin. If you need technical assistance with your project, please describe what it is you want to do and the type of help you need in your email. We may be able to connect you with a volunteer to help, or may refer you to another resource.

Good luck with your application!

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Code of Conduct survey results are in!

We want ARDC—and amateur radio—to be a harassment-free zone that is inviting to everyone, so having a code of conduct is important to us. And, since we want it to reflect the values of the ARDC community, we conducted a survey and asked for your input. Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts.

Overall, 56 of you responded to the survey, which ended April 30, 2022. When asked how you were affiliated with ARDC, 45 (80.4%) said that they were 44Net users or mailing list subscribers and 10 (17.9%) said that they were ARDC volunteers. Other participants included members of ARDC staff as well as a few  grant recipients and one grant applicant. Five clicked the “other” box, with one of them identifying themself as an “innocent bystander.”

The respondents were overwhelmingly male. 45 (out of 53 who answered this question) identified themselves as male (see graph below). Most also identified their race/ethnicity as white or Caucasian. Several identified themselves as simply “human,” while one fellow said he was a “white old male.”

A few of you had concerns about these questions. One asked, “Why does this matter?” Several replied, “Not relevant.” While we understand where you’re coming from, we asked for this information to help us better understand our community.

You say that having a code of conduct is a good idea

It was heartening to us that the majority of respondents think that having a Code of Conduct is a good idea. When asked if they agree with the statement, “I think ARDC should have a Code of Conduct,” 41.1% strongly agreed, 30.4% agreed, and 7.1% agreed somewhat. Only 12.5% disagreed.

 

In addition, nearly 80% thought that codes of conduct are an effective way to prevent misconduct and harassment:

Here is what you said about why it’s a good idea:

  • “I applaud and appreciate the effort to create a code of conduct, and I look forward to seeing it! Thank you!”
  • “I can’t wait to see this!”
  • “CoCs are something that have been widely adopted by younger generations, and thus are important for bringing younger generations (as well as women, POC, and LGBTQ+ folks) ino amateur radio and 44net.”

Of course, there were some negative comments as well:

  • “ARDC should stick to its already-tough job without detouring into a rat’s nest of writing and enforcing political correctness legislation.”
  • “I believe it will drive people away rather than welcoming people in. And even the process of trying to draft one is having that effect. I believe that if actually adhered to, Codes of Conduct would politicize ordinary discourse, fracturing the community.”

To see the complete report, go to the survey website or download this PDF.

Drafting our code of conduct

To help guide us in drafting our code of conduct, we asked what you think should be included in the code of conduct and for examples that you like and think are effective. We received many good suggestions, including:

You also gave us some advice on how to write the code of conduct. For example, several mentioned that it should be “short and sweet.” One respondent noted, “I suggest you err on the side of simple and easy to understand, not long and verbose.”

There were some concerns, though, and we will certainly take these into account as we draft our code of conduct. These concerns include:

  • That enforcement is fair.
  • That the code of conduct not drive people away.
  • That the code of conduct not be U.S.-centric.

On all counts, we hear you. We aim as always to be as fair and inclusive as possible.

Next steps

We are currently working on the code of conduct internally, and will likely have our first draft available in the next couple of months. When it is available, we will publish it and ask for comments, as was requested in the survey. Once we review those comments, we’ll finalize the document and make it live!

Thanks again for participating in this process. With your input, we feel that the ARDC Code of Conduct will be the best that it can be and serve us well.

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ARDC working on Code of Conduct – give us your thoughts!

ARDC is currently developing a code of conduct. A good code of conduct not only sets the benchmark for professional behavior, it also clarifies an organization’s values and principles. Having a code of conduct is important to us because we want ARDC to be a harassment-free zone that is inviting to everyone and to have a clear path for dealing with misconduct on our mailing lists, forums, and other events.

To help us discover what is important to you, our community, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to complete this online survey. Your answers will help our code of conduct be the best that it possibly can be.

THIS SURVEY IS NOW COMPLETE! Thanks for all your input. To see the results, click here or download this PDF.

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2021 Annual Report Now Available

We’re excited to announce the publication of the ARDC 2021 Annual Report. Highlights include:

  • 5 new staff members.
  • A new values statement.
  • Grants amounting to more than $8 million USD, including:
    • $3.7 million for amateur radio infrastructure and development projects
    • $4.1 million for education projects, including 1.5 million for scholarships
    • $1.2  million for technical innovation projects
  • A report on our efforts to reach out and engage our communities.
  • A look ahead to 2022.

Note that one of the slides for the January 2022 Community Meeting says that we made 61 grants in 2021, while the Annual Report says that we made 77 grants and gifts. The reason for this discrepancy is that we did not include gifts in the community meeting slide. The dollar amount is the same in both documents, with the amount rounded up to $9.05 million in the annual report.

Download our annual report and contact us if you have any comments or questions.

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January 29, 2022 Community Meeting Looks Back at 2021, Ahead to 2022

On Saturday, January 29, 2022, ARDC held its first community meeting of the year. Below is a recording of the meeting and a recap. In the recap, times are included in square brackets, so that you can quickly fast forward to a particular topic. For example, discussion of staff and volunteer updates begins at the [3:10] mark.

A PDF file with the slides presented can be found here.*

After some housekeeping, Executive Director Rosy Schechter, KJ7RYV, launched into a recap of 2021, noting, “Last year was the first year that we had actual employees….including me!” The big news of this portion of the presentation was that ARDC Treasurer Bdale Garbee, KB0G, has come on board, at least temporarily as Accounting Director [5:10]. Bdale has been doing this as a volunteer, but it’s been so much work that it just made sense that he receive some compensation.

Rosy then discussed some of the changes to the Grants Advisory Committee (GAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The highlights here are that Bob Witte, K0NR, will be taking over as chair of the GAC, and that we’ve increased the size of the committee. We also have new TAC members, and Pierre Martel, VE2PF, will be the new chair.

Next, Grants Manager Chelsea Parrága, KF0FVJ, took the floor to discuss our 2021 grants [9:50]. The big news here is that we made 61 grants, totalling more than $9 million, and reached 55,682 people. This included:

  • 29 grants ($3.7 million) for the support and growth of amateur radio
  • 22 grants ($4.1 million) for education, including scholarship
  • 10 grants ($1.2 million) for research and development projects

A number of grants were highlighted, including grants to:

After this review, Communications Manager Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, discussed how we engaged with our community in 2021. For example, since Dan came on board in June 2021, we’ve appeared on several podcasts and YouTube shows, including Ham Nation and Linux in the Ham Shack. He’s also published several press releases that have garnered mentions in the press of our grants, and he’s revived our presence on social media, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

Board member John Gilmore (left) gets axe-throwing tips from Grants Manager Chelsea Parrága.

Last but not least, for 2021, we shared some highlights of ARDC’s first-ever in-person meeting between board and staff. We not only discussed some weighty issues, such as how we envision ARDC making amateur radio better in the future, but also took some time to have fun. Who would have guessed that Chelsea would be such a killer axe thrower?!

Looking forward to 2022

We then turned our attention to 2022 [24:45]. First on the agenda was publication of a new values statement. Our values are:

  • Curiosity
  • Experimentalism
  • Respect
  • Accountability
  • Openness & Transparency
  • Inclusiveness
  • Fairness
  • Generosity & Gratitude

We urge you all to take a look at the values statement.

Next, Dan announced our upcoming hamfest schedule. This includes Hamcation (Orlando, FL, February 11-12, 2022), QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo (March 12-13,2022), and the Dayton Hamvention (Xenia, OH, May 20-22, 2022).

The next announcement was about changes to our grantmaking process [26:40]. The short version is that in 2022 there will be four deadlines for grant applications:

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022
  • Sunday, May 1, 2022
  • Friday, July 15, 2022
  • Saturday, October 1, 2022

After these deadlines, applications are grouped into categories and applications in those categories are evaluated together. We feel that reviewing grant applications in this way will be fairer and streamline the process.

Rosy then discussed some other items that we will be working on in 2022 [30:00], including:

  • Our vision statement and code of conduct,
  • Expanding grantmaking capabilities to individuals,
  • Focused outreach, especially internationally and to digital communications groups,
  • Piloting (and hopefully launching!) a new grant management platform called Hypha,
  • Launching a new portal for 44net and updating documentation, and
  • Re-launching our website so that it is mobile friendly.

The meeting ended with a spirited Q&A session [34:00]. Rosy and the rest of the staff fielded the following questions:

  • Can applicants include overhead costs in grant applications [34:30]?
  • What’s been going on with the Technical Activities Committee in 2021 [37:15]?
  • Does ARDC fund emergency communications trailers and vans [40:45]?
  • What is ARDC doing in diversity, equity, and inclusion [43:00]?
  • What progress has been made on the 44Net portal upgrade [45:30]?
  • What are the reporting requirements after a grant has been made [46:00]?
  • Does ARDC have any plans to promote amateur radio to the general public [49:05]?
  • Does ARDC give grants to individuals [53:30]?

Please see the video for the answers to these questions.

* The PDF slides here have been updated since the video call to address two corrections: Merideth’s call sign was incorrect. Also, our grantmaking number has been updated to include some small gifts at the end of the year, totaling about $22,000. As noted in the video and elsewhere, the most exact numbers related to our finances will be provided in our 2021 audit, which will be made public as soon as it is complete and submitted to the IRS.

 

 

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Community Meeting: Saturday, January 29, 2022

Interested in what ARDC has been up to in 2021 and will be up to in 2022? Then join us for the next ARDC Community Meeting. 

  • DATE: Saturday, 29 January 2022
  • TIME: 1800 UTC (10am PST / 1pm EST / 7pm CET)
  • PLACE: Zoom (see Zoom info below)

Topics will include:

  • Introduction of new GAC and TAC members
  • Looking back at 2021
  • Looking ahead to 2022
  • Questions from our attendees.

This meeting is open to all interested parties, so please tell your friends!

See you on January 29!


Zoom URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87882963306?pwd=aXdpY3B1cmFwWlNSVDJFMkpLanIyQT09
Meeting ID: 878 8296 3306
Passcode: 72396

To join by phone, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcXKMi0QGv to find your local phone number.

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