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

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Sat Feb 6 17:34:34 PST 2016

Eli, Till, others,
Your thoughts on a grants program are good. Thanks for sharing. Your 
opinions have been shaping and refining my opinions on this topic.

Warm regards, Cameron

On 7/02/2016 8:06 am, Eli Adam wrote:
> 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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Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
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