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Freedom House IGF Incubator Project

Be one of 10 semi-finalists!

Be one of 10 semi-finalists!

View winners


Round 1 - Public voting for the top 10 project ideas that advance Internet freedom.

Accepting submissions: August 1 to September 15, 2012
Casting votes: September 17 to 21, 2012

The 10 project ideas with the most votes will go on the the 2nd round of the competition to select the winners of the grand prize. For more details, keep reading.


I. Funding Opportunity

Freedom House is organizing a competition among civil society activists to obtain funding for projects that promote, protect and advocate for Internet freedom at the national or regional level. At least four projects will be selected to compete in a final round of the competition at the Global Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November 2012.

Project finalists will be part of the Freedom House delegation to the Global IGF and present their ideas before a panel of judges in a public pitch. At least two projects will be selected to receive Freedom House funding to implement the activities according to the approved budget and timeline.

Non-governmental organizations are encouraged to submit proposals for projects that raise awareness and understanding about restrictions on Internet Freedom domestically or regionally, and instill knowledge and skills in the population to challenge and overcome these restrictions.

About the Organization

For more than 70 years, Freedom House has supported the global expansion of freedom through advocacy activities, monitoring work, and in-depth research on the state of freedom country-by-country, and through direct support of democratic reformers throughout the world.

The Global Internet Freedom Initiative seeks to counteract the rising trend of government censorship and surveillance and to expand efforts to challenge restrictions on net freedom around the world. It aims to analyze the state of Internet freedom, to expand the use of anti-censorship technologies, to build support networks for citizens fighting against online repression, and to focus greater international attention on the growing threats to users’ rights. Our approach to combating threats to Internet freedom aims to address the repressive policies and practices of undemocratic regimes, such as shutting down websites, making Internet service providers liable for content they host, requiring Internet cafes to monitor users, and arresting individuals who criticize the government online.

The competition has three rounds. The final round will take place the day before the IGF in Azerbaijan. Finalists will present their proposals before a panel of judges who will select the projects to receive Freedom House funding for implementation.


* Submit your proposals by September 15, 2012 then urge your supporters to vote online for your idea between September 17th to 21st.
* The ten projects to receive the most votes will enter the next round in which a review committee will use a scoring system to select at least four projects to enter the final round.
* Finalists will be announced by September 28th.
* Finalists will attend the Global IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan as an active member of the Freedom House delegation from November 4 to 10, 2012.
* Winners will implement their project plans during 2013.

Contest Requirements

I. Proposals Must Adhere to Project Specifications

The Freedom House Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Incubator Project seeks applications for project ideas designed to challenge threats to Internet freedom at the regional or local level. Suggestions on the type of activities to be funded include, but are not limited to: Advocacy & awareness-raising, Civil society coalition building, Digital & multimedia activism, Education & training, Multistakeholder dialogue & outreach, and Research & publishing.

Resources for ideas about goals, strategies and tactics:
• The UN Human Rights Council Resolution on July 5, 2012: "The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet" (
• The Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet (
• The International Freedom of Expression Exchange resource guide for campaigns and e-advocacy (
• The Tactical Technology Collective’s @Info_Activism toolkit “10 Tactics” (

Additional best practices include: Focusing on how restrictions on Internet Freedom affect daily life of citizens, businesses and civil society groups; Exploring how restrictions on Internet Freedom contradict the country’s constitution or international human rights commitments; Finding groups that are already active in the space and working together to make a difference. It is good practice to suggest steps that citizens can take to counteract these restrictions and to press decision makers for an open Internet with a free flow of information.

General award criteria:

Proposals with budgets up to $15,000 USD are encouraged, as Freedom House will provide funding within this range to cover expenses related to proposed activities with well-planned budgets and timelines.

Applicants may propose performance periods of up to 8 months, beginning no earlier than January 1, 2013 and ending no later than August 31, 2013.

Applicants are reminded that funding will be contingent on both 1.) being selected in the final round of judging at the IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan, as well as 2.) successfully participating in the Freedom House IGF delegation.

Funding for this subgrant program is provided to Freedom House through a grant from the U.S. Department of State. Applicants may submit proposals that build (if applicable) upon the efforts of their current Internet freedom programming and on current or previous Freedom House funding.

II. Selection Process

Round 1 of the selection process requires five steps:

1. Brainstorm! Think about your idea and come up with a project plan that meets all of the points in the Scorecard below, which judges will use during the selection process.
2. Submit a public entry: Fill out an entry form online (limit one project plan per organization) at: Deadline: September 15, 2012.
a. Contest moderators will review the entry to ensure that it conforms to the Application Checklist below.
b. You will be notified at the email address you provide once the entry is posted online or if there is insufficient information.
3. Submit a full application privately: An application is not considered complete until a full proposal packet is received at Deadline: September 15, 2012.
a. Before voting begins, contest moderators will remove from the contest website all public entries for which a full application has not been received.
b. Use the enclosed form and budget template, and follow the instructions in the Application Checklist.
4. Publicize! Be sure to LIKE the Freedom House IGF Incubator Project Facebook Page: Promote your idea on Facebook and Twitter to raise support for your project in preparation for the voting contest.
5. Vote! You and your supporters can each vote once per day from September 17 until September 21, 2012. The 10 projects with the most votes will be semi-finalists for Round 2 of the selection process.

Round 2 of the selection process begins immediately after voting ends on September 21, 2012. A review committee will independently rank each of the 10 project proposals using the Scorecard below. Representatives of the four projects with the highest ranking will be invited to attend the Global IGF as part of the Freedom House delegation and will participate as finalists in Round 3 of the selection process.

Round 3 of the selection process takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the first week of November 2012 at the Global IGF. Finalists will present their projects in a public session in front of a multi-stakeholder panel of judges. Based on these presentations, a minimum of two projects will be selected to receive Freedom House funding and support to ensure the projects’ successes.

III. Eligibility

• Applicant organizations should have a demonstrated record in upholding and/or promoting Internet freedom and/or freedom of expression;
• Organization must be a non-governmental, non-profit organization;
• Grant management experience is preferred, but not required.

IV. Deadlines

• Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through September 15, 2012.
• Voting will be open from September 17 to 21, 2012, and will be conducted according to the terms and conditions of the contest website.
• Review committee selection will be announced by September 28, 2012.
• Final judging of panel presentations will be held on November 5, 2012 at the Global IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan.

V. Contest checklists, voting rules and scorecard

Round 1 –
- Public entry checklist -
• Complete and submit form online at
• All entries must be submitted in English.
• Only one project may be entered per organization.
• Applicants must provide a secure email address they check frequently.
• No details about budgets or finances should be submitted in the public entry.
• Note that submitting this form grants Freedom House permission to post the entire entry online through the contest website and the Freedom House IGF Incubator Project Facebook page.
• Note that promoting specific entries is up to the applicants, as Freedom House will engage in only general promotion to avoid any appearance of favoritism.

- Full application checklist -
* Send an email to to obtain full application materials.
• Complete application form, budget form and budget narrative in English.
• Submit electronically to
• In the email subject line, clearly identify which public entry the application is associated with.
• A confirmation email will be sent within 2 to 5 days verifying that the application has been received and matched to the corresponding public entry.
• Note that if applicants do not receive a confirmation email within 2 to 5 days, then contest moderators have not accounted for the application. It is the applicants’ responsibility to follow up on the matter.
• Note that full applications will be treated confidentially, and Freedom House will not share information beyond what applicants provide in the public entry.

- Voting rules -
• Voting will be conducted according to the terms and conditions of the contest website:
• Users may cast one vote per entry per day for all five days of voting.
• The 10 projects with the most votes will automatically be entered into the 2nd Round of the contest.
• The 10 projects that advance to the 2nd round will be assigned points on a scale of 1 to 10 according to their ranking in the voting results (10 points = highest number of votes, 1 point = lowest number of votes.)

Round 2 –
- Scorecard for review committee -
The following are the criteria to be used by the review committee to select which four entries, from the 10 semi-finalist entries, will go on to Azerbaijan in November 2012 to compete in the final judging stage of the competition AND to participate in the Freedom House IGF Delegation.
• Project addresses critical Internet freedom issues (Denial of access, Censorship, Self-censorship, Surveillance, Repressive laws, policies or practices, Fear of reprisals, etc.)
• Project uses innovative approaches to advocacy, activism and/or analysis
• Project is locally coordinated and locally targeted
• Candidates have the experience, resources, and capacity to successfully complete the project activities
• Project objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
• Proposal clearly identifies and connects objectives, results, and impact of activities, and explains how all three will be monitored and evaluated.

VI. Additional criteria for subgrant awards

Applicant — See III. Eligibility above.

Proposal — Must clearly outline the project’s goals and objectives, target group(s), implementation plan (i.e. outreach, schedule, partnership and evaluation components); clearly define the correlation to the online freedom of expression needs of the identified country; clearly articulate the project’s anticipated measurable impact; address the limits of the project’s timeframe; and include expected mechanisms to sustain the impact after the project’s end. Please refer to the above-mentioned funding priorities and broader mission of Freedom House.

Budget — Must clearly identify project costs, show calculations, and provide explanation/justification when appropriate. The outlined costs must be reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. Please refer to the enclosed budget template.

Contest Timeline

Round nameStarts onEnds on
Submission roundAugust 1, 2012 @ 12:00 AM (EDT)September 15, 2012 @ 11:59 PM (EDT)
Voting roundSeptember 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM (EDT)September 21, 2012 @ 11:59 PM (EDT)

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