[OSGeo-Conf] [FOSS4G 2016] / upcoming FOSS4G - do we want a travel grant budget / student award

Eli Adam eadam at co.lincoln.or.us
Sat Feb 6 13:06:18 PST 2016

Hi all,

I have a few thoughts on grant programs.

To Till, David, and Kristin, I think that an established, funded,
ongoing grant program at the OSGeo level is a great idea.  That could
provided consistency and continuity from year to year.  Maybe we can
get the Board to authorize and delegate that to a committee if there
are people willing to do the work.

To Till and the Bonn LOC, it could be some time before an established,
funded, ongoing grant program at the OSGeo level comes into existence.
Portland, Seoul, and others have decided to run grant programs at the
LOC level.  Ideally, this would not be needed since it would be done
at the OSGeo level, but until such time that that happens, it is up to
the LOCs.  I would suggest that the Bonn LOC decide if and how they
want to run a grant program and go from there.  I think that an OSGeo
level grant program getting established is more likely after several
years of success at the LOC level.  This also lets the LOCs try
different ideas.  Once the best ideas get figured out, then it is
easier to formalize it at the OSGeo level.

To Cameron, I think of the grants differently, more like Jeff's quote
about signing to the fan in the last row.  It is an opportunity to
welcome a young student in and fully include them as a first-class
full peer participate.  This makes an incredible impression on people
beginning their careers.  While a student may not provide that much
immediate "return", we don't know where they are going to work.  They
could go to work at the State Department, the UN, a major city, an NGO
that works with influential members of government departments in
developing countries, or found a startup, etc.

Most LOCs also run a volunteer program which is different than grants.
Volunteering is just a different way to pay registration.  You can pay
with money or you can pay with time and work (volunteering).  These
programs have different purposes.

I have a short story.  Once while involved with running a one day
symposium, we had a professor (who was also presenting) request free
registration for their entire class.  Our registration was already
very low (~$20).  We explained that the $20 just covered snacks,
beverages, and lunch.  The professor suggested that the students would
pack their own lunches and not cost us anything.  Sounded fine (and we
didn't have much of a negotiating position) so we agreed.  It seems
that the professor never told their students that their registration
had been waived on the premise of them packing lunches.  This resulted
in us treating all these students as second-class participants.  We
didn't really want to explain that their professor (and one of our
presenters) had thrown them under the bus so we apologized for the
misunderstanding and made it work the best we could.

This is one of the things that makes me want grants to not include
work requirements or anything else.  It is to fully included someone
early in their career as a peer and let them learn and remember that
positive experience that they carry through their career.

Merry Mapping, Eli

On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 6:21 PM, Kristin Bott <bottk at reed.edu> wrote:
> Till,
> I'll echo David Bitner -- thank you for the note (and the reminder).
> Thoughts from here:
> I am a huge fan of setting aside _dedicated funds_ for scholarship programs
> for conferences. I think that supporting a Travel Grant/Scholarship program
> consistently would serve two key functions:
> (1) make FOSS4G accessible to people who might not be able to attend for
> economic reasons and who would greatly contribute to, and benefit from, the
> conference
> (2) encourage attendance and participation by people from groups
> traditionally under-represented at FOSS4G
> -- and I think that it is a wonderful idea to separate funding (from main
> conference funding) in order to keep the grant/scholarship program
> sustainable.
> (Here are some details [1] about what we did for the 2014 FOSS4G Travel
> Grant program)
> I would be curious to hear what the OSGeo Board would propose to both of the
> options that Bitner put forth:
> "
> 1) Set aside (and fundraise for) funds administered by OSGeo and made
> available to provide scholarships across ANY OSGeo supported event (FOSS4G,
> regional FOSS4G-type events, code sprints)
> 2) Set aside (primarily from FOSS4G revenue, potentially with additional
> fundraising) funds to be specifically budgeted for FOSS4G LOC's to
> administer scholarship programs.
> "
> As Bitner said, there are a lot of details to work out, but I think this is
> an important issue and I'm glad you brought it up.
> Note that supporting programs that help create a more welcoming and diverse
> OSGeo community is one of the functions of the Code of Conduct Committee
> [which I currently chair]; if funds are approved, I would be happy to work
> with you or other organizers in order to ensure that OSGeo events are more
> open to all.
> Cameron, I think that thinking about return on investment can be tricky,
> because I think defining what the OSGeo community values as a "return" worth
> that investment will be complicated. (When we designed our travel grant
> program for FOSS4G 2014, we considered a number of different models for
> awarding funds.)
> I'm excited to see where this conversation goes.
> cheers -
> -kristin
> [1] http://2014.foss4g.org/travel-grant-epilogue/index.html
> [2] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/CodeOfConduct_Committee
> On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 7:01 AM, <till.adams at fossgis.de> wrote:
>> Hi Conference Committee,
>> long time no real news from Bonn, but in short: Up to now preparation of
>> FOSs4G is running quiet well, we just released our Call for Submissions as
>> you might (should) have noticed.
>> Anyhow, there are some ideas we have that are quite interesting for all
>> FOSs4G's in the future and therefore I take the opportunity to discuss with
>> you.
>> 1. Travel Grants
>> Seouls team (Sanghee, correct me if I am wrong) set up a travel grant
>> budget, AFAIK he took 10k $ from his budget and also enabled attendees to
>> make a donation for the travel grant budget.
>> People from developing countries then were encouraged to apply for such a
>> travel grant and Seoul LOC paid for a number of them for travel costs and
>> also gave these people a free/reduced ticket. They used world banks country
>> rating to forgive these grants, which is a good, because widely as
>> independent accepted, way to decide on that.
>> In general I really like the idea of enabling people from developing
>> countries to attend a FOSS4G. I think especially in developing countries
>> Open Source could be a key technology to really improve situations there and
>> keep knowledge and with that also money inside the country.
>> On the other side, we, Bonn's LOC, now have the same problem all former
>> and upcoming LOC's had/will have: First you see all the costs, that come up
>> and although we are in a good hope, that FOSS4G 2016 in Bonn will become a
>> great success, we don't know, what really happens. Taking both things into
>> account, I'd like to apply at OSGeo board for the following:
>> I'd like OSGeo to set up a fixed budget for travel grants for a FOSS4G. If
>> (our) FOSS4G becomes a success, OSGeo will get this money back anyhow,
>> because Bonn's LOC agreed to give at least 90% of our surplus to OSgeo. If
>> we make a loss, the money from OSGeo is gone and doesn't enhance our
>> financial desaster ;-). The other way around would be, that we decide on
>> having that (like Sould team did) on our risk, but the money for OSGeo is
>> lost anyhow, because at the end of the day, the money comes out of OSGeo
>> pocket anyhow. So why not taking the opportunity to make that a fixed part
>> for all FOSS4G-conferences?
>> Just FYI: I will also apply for some more money at FOSSGIS (local german
>> speaking OSGeo chapter), which have the same goals as OSGeo.
>> 2. Student Award
>> In Seoul also there has been a student award, or to be honest, they were
>> 4, 2 from OSGeo and 2 from LOC Seoul, respectively one for the best
>> student-poster and for the best student-presentation. The presence of
>> twoxtwo student awards caused a little confusion in my eyes. I think it was
>> around 500$ each award, directly given to the winners in the closing
>> session.
>> I know that it was a quiet spontaneous decision on how to decide on the
>> winners which was just made right during Seouls FOSS4G lunch-time ;-). This
>> also could become a now established and fixed part of a FOSS4G - and hits
>> also one of the main goals OSGeo has - to prosper education with OSGeo
>> software.
>> So here are my questions:
>> A) Would conference committee support us and upcoming teams by advising
>> the board to setup a fixed travel grant budget?
>> B) Same question for the student award?
>> Many thanks for your time ;-)
>> Till
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