Recap: ARDC + 44net 0ct. 10 Community Call (including survey results!)

On Saturday Oct. 10, 2020, 44net + ARDC did something we’d never done before: got on a video call together to talk about, well, ARDC and 44net.

Specifically, we:

  • Introduced the ARDC Board, Grants Advisory Committee, and staff;
  • Reviewed ARDC granting goals and grants made to-date;
  • Reviewed the results of ARDC’s survey (which you can see here); and
  • Enjoyed some Q+A about all of the above.

Though the call started with some technical hiccups (namely moving from Jitsi to Zoom to accommodate bandwidth), folks seemed to enjoy it enough to want to do this kind of thing more often. Stay tuned for more info about future public meetings and office hours!

Also – we heard from some folks who were sad they didn’t know about the call. If you were one of those people, please know we hear you and will be setting up future Town Halls open to everyone in the amateur radio + digital communications world! This first meeting was intended to create a space specific to 44net. In the future, we may hold meetings specifically for people with other particular interests – like satellites or education, for example – as well as those that are intended for a general ARDC audience.

Whether you were there or not, feel free to take a look at the materials from the meeting: the chat text and presentation slides.

Throughout the call, people posted questions in the chat. Those questions and their answers are posted below. Note that grammatical adjustments have been made to some questions; otherwise, they should match the questions in the chat.

Many thanks to everyone who participated on the call! Many more thanks to the ARDC Board and the Grants Advisory Committee, who are all volunteering their time to this effort. And here’s to more great calls like this one!

Q+A

How do you accept applicants for grant making?

As of right now, grant proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants are asked to submit a proposal for review by the Grants Advisory Committee (GAC) and final approval by the Board. All proposed projects must be in alignment with ARDC’s mission and at least one of our granting goals.

During the review and approval process, the team checks for:

  • Eligibility?
  • Team capability?
  • Do we have a budget for this?
  • Does this meet one of ARDC’s Granting Goals?
  • How similar / different is this proposal from other ARDC grants?

You can learn more about eligibility and requirements at:
ampr.org/giving/

If you’d like to submit a proposal, you may do so at:
mailman.ampr.org/hotcrp/

Note that the details of this process may change in the future, such as creating granting windows for specific types of projects. Whenever that happens, we’ll announce it here on ampr.org.

You mention the entities you can give legally grants to. Does this mean that all of these entities are considered to receive grants today, or is this just an ability?

This question is in reference to our slide about eligible organizations:

As a US-based private foundation, we have to follow specific laws and regulations with regards to our grantmaking. As of right now, we have the administrative and legal capability to give to:

  • 501(c)(3) public charities (US)
  • Projects / organizations that are fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) public charity (US)
  • Government entities (US)
  • Schools and universities (US)

We are currently working on creating the legal and administrative framework to be able to make grants to businesses, individuals, and organizations outside of the US, beginning with grants to non-US 501(c)(3) equivalents. We’ll announce updates to this capability when we have more information.

So far, if I remember the amount correctly, $2.5M has been given. All eligible entities marked as “International” are in the “Future” category. Does this mean that 100% of this amount has been given to US entities?

No. Part of that amount represents an approved grant to a nonprofit in Germany. We are currently working through the required legal process – called equivalency determination – in order to give to this organization. Once we have gone through this process, we’ll have a clearer understanding of what it entails and can post more details.

Maybe I have missed this, but are there any diversity metrics for the Grant Committee?

There are no diversity metrics at this time for either the grants committee or the grants being made. That said, for 2021, we would like to:

  • Have greater representation from the international community on the GAC and Board,
  • Have greater representation from women, non-white, and other underrepresented groups on the GAC and Board, and
  • Make as many international grants as possible once we are legally and administratively capable of doing so.

Ideally, the people who comprise ARDC staff, board, and committees, and the people who receive ARDC grants, represent the amateur radio and digital communications spaces in their entirety. We would also like to see the demographics of both reflect the overall global population. We have a long way to go to get there and realize that it will be ongoing and important work at ARDC.

If you want to help make a change in this area, and particularly if you are an individual from an underrepresented group, send me a note at rosy@ampr.org.

How does ARDC enforce the fund spending after it has been granted?

The organizations that are currently eligible to receive funds are all bound by similar laws and regulations to the ones that we must follow. Importantly, they must spend the funds as dictated by the grants. For these organizations, we ask for quarterly reports so that we can see and report on progress.

All other organization types and individuals, as well as entities outside of the US, require additional oversight to ensure proper use of funds. We are actively working to create this legal and administrative setup and will post more specifics when we have them.

What is the long term plan for the fund? Is the plan to liquidate it over time or keep it self-funding through investment? Are there any future plans or protections on the remaining 44.x.x.x address space to be sold off?

The long-term plan for the fund is to use it as an endowment. We’ll grant, at minimum, the required percentage of our assets to keep our status as a private foundation, and a maximum determined based on market conditions. This estimate, at this time, comes to more than $5 million / year.

There are no future plans to sell any additional address space. The one-time nature of the sale allows us to use the funds for the endowment without having to pay taxes on them. Selling more address space may change that. Additionally, though we still think it was the right move, the necessarily secretive nature of such transactions are a hard thing to balance at an organization that supports transparency and open source. So, while there are no guarantees in the long term, we have no plans to at this time and, frankly, have (many) more reasons not to than to do so.

Who are those “501(c)(3) sponsor” orgs that individual projects can apply for ARDC funding via?

Some 501(c)(3)s are happy to help with fiscal sponsorship, but it really depends on the nature of the organization, how well the sponsored organization or project fits their mission, and whether the 501(c)(3) organization has the administrative capacity for fiscal sponsorship.

It’s worth noting that, fiscal sponsors not only process your donation and (usually) take a small portion of it. By sponsoring your organization or project, they take on the legal responsibility of ensuring that you use funds correctly. So, it’s not just a “paperwork thing” – there’s more to it. Here are a couple of resources with more information:

With all of this in mind, there is no “list” that we can volunteer. As promised in the call, however, we will reach out to some organizations in the amateur radio world to see if they might be willing and able to fiscally sponsor projects.

What is the FY2020 budget (ignoring staff costs) for ARDC’s priority core mission of maintaining/developing extant 44net/AmprGW core infrastructure?

FY2020 purposefully does not have a budget. The reason why is because, in this experimental first year, we did not wish to make any promises with regards to either grant making or 44net infrastructure.

Part of the aim of the survey sent to 44net and the Oct. 10 call was to start putting together some clearer ideas around both strategy and budget for FY2021. We’ll post that information to this blog and 44net as soon as it’s available, likely in late November / early December.

How can we in Europe/Switzerland can make sure to be 501(c)(3) equivalent? eg. a hamclub here has not to pay taxes? is that ok? […] Will these rules be distributed to 44net?

When it comes to equivalency determination, the answer is specific to each organization. This post by NGOSource – an organization that specializes in equivalency determination – has some good information and general guidance that may be helpful.

Are there plans to add the 44net “group” to the ARDC?

ARDC manages the 44net space. The 44net mailing list is, primarily, for technical matters related to 44net. So, anyone using that list is affiliated with ARDC already.

Would adding a chat group increase younger crowd participation, such as Discord?

Probably the best way to answer that question is to ask some younger hams how they communicate (Slack? Discord? Maybe IRC is making a comeback?) and to set up a communication channel to match. If there is already an active youth ham channel, we may be able to participate there without necessarily having to create a whole new system.

If you are a young ham and you know of such a channel, please let me know at rosy@ampr.org.

Side note, as I write this, I’m feeling very:

via GIPHY

Other than 44net, what other Amateur Radio organizations are providing input to ARDC?

Given our origins, 44net is the first group we’ve asked for input, which we’re using to craft our budgeting, grantmaking, and organizational strategies for 2021.

We will also be reaching out to organizations like ARRL, AMSAT, TAPR, and FAR, as well as gleaning input from ham clubs in the US and abroad. In addition to the amateur radio community, we’ll also be reaching out to organizations in the digital communications space.

In many cases projects for e.g. young people are small things, you could need a few hundred EUR/USD, how can that be done efficiently, now and in the future ?

This is a great question, and one that we are working on finding answers to now. As soon as we have more information, we’ll post it to the blog and 44net.

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