The following are Frequently Asked Questions about the ICANN Grant Program. As the program is still under development, this list of questions will be routinely updated to reflect ICANN org’s progress in implementing the program. For more information on current progress, please visit here.
What is the ICANN Grant Program?
It is an international grant-making program funded by the proceeds received from last-resort auctions in the 2012 New gTLD Program. The ICANN community convened a working group that developed a Final Report with recommendations on how these proceeds should be allocated. On 12 June 2022 the ICANN Board adopted the recommendations. As a result, ICANN org has started to develop a Grant Program. Once established, this program will exist until the proceeds are depleted.
How much funding is available?
The total net auction proceeds fund amounts to $210 million as of 30 June 2022. This may not be the final amount of proceeds available for distribution, as a portion of the auction proceeds funds under management are still subject to disputes. Additionally, costs to run the program will be covered by the auction proceeds fund.
The Grant Program will operate in a series of cycles. During each cycle, a portion of the total fund will be available for distribution for successful applications. For the first cycle, $10 million will be the overall amount available for distribution. Within the first cycle, grant awards will range between $50,000 up to $500,000. These award thresholds are for the first cycle only and will be reassessed for future cycles.
When will applications for the program open?
Based on current planning, we project that the application window for the first cycle will open during the first calendar quarter of 2024. This timeline takes into account the work to finalize the program design, including setting up the Grant Program department, developing and launching an awareness campaign, and implementing the necessary processes and procedures.
Who can apply?
ICANN org will define the full eligibility criteria for the program. As available, the eligibility criteria, as well as details about the application process, will be published.
Some eligibility criteria are already known. For example, applicants cannot be individuals, and must pass due-diligence checks, the criteria for which will also be fully defined and published. Protections against actual, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest will also be built into the program and could impact applicant eligibility.
Can an applicant submit more than one application?
ICANN org is evaluating possible scenarios to handle applications from the same applicant during a grant cycle. ICANN org's current planning includes the ability for a single applicant to submit more than one application within the first cycle. The rules regarding limitations on the ability for an applicant to have more than one successful application per cycle and applicants identifying preferences amongst their applications are still being considered. This is also an aspect of the Grant Program that we anticipate will be evaluated for subsequent cycles.
What types of projects will be eligible?
Applications must be for projects consistent with ICANN’s mission and aligned with the objectives of the Grant Program. Additional eligibility criteria are being defined and will be published, along with other details about the application process as soon as this work is finalized.
While the full scope of eligibility criteria is still under development, projects that include any aspect of political or lobbying activities, or projects that include activities that are already conducted within ICANN will not be eligible for funding.
Who will evaluate the applications?
There will be different levels of evaluation that are still being developed, such as background checks/eligibility, and confirmation of consistency with mission. Once those preliminary checks are completed, an Independent Application Assessment Panel will be responsible for the evaluation of applications against the goals and objectives of the program. Within each cycle, the panel will be responsible for the identification of a slate of applications to be awarded grants funded by ICANN.
The ICANN Board will not take decisions on individual applications, instead it will focus its action on the entire slate of applications being recommended for funding. The Board is expected to either approve the funding of the entire slate of recommended applications or reject the slate in full, after consideration of whether the proposed slate was developed in accordance with the Grant Program processes and procedures.
Given the critical importance of ensuring the independence of this panel, ICANN org will select a third party to design and form the Panel with the ultimate objectives of maximizing Panel independence from the ICANN Board, org, and community. Additionally, robust procedures will be in place to handle conflict of interest at the panel level and throughout the Program.
How can I follow this work and receive updates on when the application window will open for the first cycle?
Progress and updates will be available here.