Background

Digital infrastructure is the foundational free and open-source code that underpins much of the software we use every day. Without proper support and maintenance,  this code can ‘crumble’ much like physical infrastructure does without committed and sustained upkeep.

Building Blocks is a set of actionable resources for funders to better support digital infrastructure projects and communities of practice. It provides a practical framework for funders who are interested in supporting digital infrastructure but may not yet know how to approach the topic, or would like to have more guidance in entering this community of practice with a sound funding approach.

Much of the foundation for the ideation and design of the toolkit is based on the findings from Roadwork Ahead, which describes insights and recommendations for funders interested in supporting digital infrastructure.

Approach

This project is rooted in human-centered design (HCD), a process where research and active experimentation generate actionable insights. In following HCD principles, we engaged funders, applicants, and advisors, with the aim to improve their relationships with all the stakeholders that shape the health of the digital infrastructure ecosystem.

Simply Secure created a set of modular and versatile resources, including funder personas, building blocks (tools + guides), and case studies on funding mechanisms.

Aware that Roadwork Ahead was the foundation of this work, and its North American/EU perspective, we partnered with 9 regional experts around the world who conducted original research on digital infrastructure funding in their unique contexts.

Our partners at Superrr completed a set of Narrative Futures, which spark inspiration on how we can shape the digital future in a collaborative, sustainable and equal way.

Our goal is that this toolkit will be a roadmap for funders committed to sustaining the critical digital infrastructure we all rely on.

Building Blocks is funded by a 2020 Digital Infrastructure Grant, a multi-funder 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.