[Article]

Introducing our Open Calls

Civic engagement

From the team


Reset was set up to tackle the challenges that surveillance capitalism poses for democracy. We support projects and people working to change the way the internet enables the spread of news and information so that the internet serves the public good over corporate and political interests.

This is an unprecedented problem - and so we are testing an unprecedented combination of methods to try to solve it. The Reset team are working alongside our partners to help them develop ideas and to help people to change public policy, to design alternative technologies and to engage with communities so that they better understand the problems they face and how to fix them. We also provide funding and support to organisations and individuals working on policy, advocacy, research, technology and civic engagement. As part of our work as a funder, we are excited to announce our open calls.

Our Open Calls

Open calls are a way for us to continually enable new ideas to surface and flourish. We welcome a wide range of project concepts from a diverse group of individuals and organisations, prioritising those new to Reset and whom identify as under-represented in the space. Every two months, we will review all submitted applications and fund the best. Our three inaugural open calls are:

  • Reset Our Future Fund: Surveillance capitalism harms democracy, human rights online and open societies. This open call supports technology-focused interventions that aim to advance the public’s understanding and awareness of surveillance capitalism and its harms and projects that strengthen society’s ability to mitigate and defend against those harms.

  • Information Control Fellowship: Successful applicants will work within our partner organisations on research and technology projects to advance our common understanding of how surveillance capitalism enables information controls that weaken democracy. Our fellows will draw attention to what those harms look like, where they occur and who they affect, and they will explore opportunities to mitigate and defend against those harms.

  • Resident Fellowship: Resident fellows seek to advance our understanding of surveillance capitalism and change the way Reset works and thinks from the inside. Successful fellows work within Reset to deepen and expand our network’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face as we seek to achieve our collective goals.

Our open calls are an important way for us to engage with individuals and organisations that were previously unknown to us. They help us to build our network of partners, and they facilitate and coordinate the transfer and redistribution of knowledge and resources. Just as we operate differently, so we do open calls differently. Here’s why and how.

Reshaping Open Calls

We view open calls as about more than attracting inspiring ideas, people and projects to fund. Moreover, they are not just opportunities to expand the Reset network. We spend a lot of time reviewing other social and technical networks and have found that the healthiest thriving networks can be described as:

  • Open, inclusive and accessible to others
  • Resilient, because they are diverse, equitable and distributed, and have redundancies
  • Operating with clear protocols
  • Promoting trustworthiness and credibility

We believe that networks with these attributes have the strongest ability to amass the collective knowledge and expertise needed to overcome the pressing threat of surveillance capitalism.

Our hypothesis is that, while open calls provide a funding opportunity for new ideas, they are also a useful way for applicants to join a new network and receive the benefits of sharing knowledge and building relationships, regardless of funding outcomes. We will test this hypothesis through rapid iterations. It is crucial that we provide repeated opportunities for participant feedback and enable participants to grow. Ultimately, our experiment will be validated if and when new applicants choose to interconnect and if the network’s collective ability to realise our aims becomes enhanced. In short, we hope our open calls will help to build a community that is bigger than the sum of its parts and the financial resources that support it.

Changing Our Role

Reset - like many funders - has been working in traditional ways to establish a robust network of partners. We have started to fund projects that we hope will spark sustainable change. We have created an advisory council and are working with influential people through review boards. However, as a new organisation, we also have the opportunity to think and act differently in our role as a funder and about how we can create a thriving, inclusive network.

Empowering the Edges

Our open calls offer an always-open door for new partners to join our network. We are always accepting applications and we are committed to making decisions on each funding round as rapidly as possible. All participants can be assured that there is a shared set of values and principles and a common aim, an affirmation made by all when joining us. We have removed the burdens of figuring out how to engage with us socially and the pressure of missing a one-time or irregular deadline. There is a clear entry point for joining the Reset network.

Power of Knowledge

We believe that the knowledge and experience that applicants share with us and our network are as powerful as the funding we provide. For most applicants, the amount of time required to apply and to share knowledge is disproportionate to the outcome for them. So, for this reason, we have expanded the value of our engagement with an open-call applicant beyond a simple yes or no to funding. First, we are committed to sending to all unsuccessful applicants the reason why they were unsuccessful. We are also committed to fostering collaboration among like-minded applicants and with communities and organisations that may not be aware of the open calls. We are committed to the careful curation of the project ideas submitted as the knowledge base of the community. And we are committed to sharing that knowledge - with permission - with the rest of our network.

Flash Grants

From our experience of managing open calls, we have seen great work done by unsuccessful applicants who subsequently collaborated around their shared application experience - a space that has historically been under-leveraged by facilitators of open calls. Reset reaches into this space through our collaborative flash grants. We allow (with permission) applicants to see each other’s top-line project ideas. Those who connect to work on exciting collaborative projects can apply for funding through an exclusive and short application workflow.

Additionally, referral flash grants are a way for approved applicants to create new connections. There is a light workflow that allows our existing partners to invite someone new to complete a short application, which concludes with a funding decision from us. All partners (including those who have joined via a flash grant) have this opportunity to expand the Reset network.

A Collaborative Knowledge Exchange

Our open calls are part of our larger strategy to ensure that our philanthropy is best suited to dealing with the issues we are facing and to support the growing network of individuals and organisation who are tackling them. Through the open calls, we can responsibly expand networks, collect and share data so that we can redistribute knowledge and power, and iterate our strategy quickly and collaboratively. They help us to learn what it takes to co-design and sustain an open platform for knowledge exchange and social communication as a virtuous alternative to the current commercial market.

This is the start of our open-call experiment. We want it to work as well as possible, for applicants as well as our broader network. As always, we encourage and welcome your feedback and suggestions on how we could improve our open calls. Please message us at [email protected] Alternatively, you can find more ways to contact us here.

More information on our open calls can be found here. Check it out, read our guidelines and terms and then apply. Or please share the word with anyone who has any exciting ideas or is working on a relevant project.