After 25 years of helping ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet, ICANN is adding an innovative approach to advance, expand, and protect its crucial assets. The group has launched a $200 million grant program to grow the entity for challenging times ahead.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its mission has been to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems, including the Domain Name System (DNS). Today, over half the world's population uses the Internet.
The non-profit raised the money over the years through DNS name auctions. The ICANN Grant Program will start by awarding $20 million this year to forward its ongoing goals of enhancing, expanding, and safeguarding the planet’s largest network.
Evolving The Internet
"It's still early in the internet age, so we continue to work on the services and systems that support its evolution," said Shayna Robinson, ICANN's Grant Program Director. "This is why the undertaking prioritizes digital inclusivity and access. We are including non-techies that have a stake in the success of the Internet. We hope the program brings in those that can keep the Internet secure and stable in increasingly challenging times.”
ICANN says its achievements stem from collaborative efforts that brought together technical experts, governments, civil society, businesses, and end users. Throughout the past two and a half decades, ICANN has been at the forefront of technical Internet governance and policy development to provide the stable and reliable technical operation of the Internet.
“With the rapid evolution of emerging technologies, businesses, and security models, it is critical that the Internet's unique identifier systems continue to evolve,” said Sally Casterton, Interim President and CEO of ICANN, in prepared comments. The program offers "a new avenue to further those efforts by investing in projects that are committed to and support ICANN's vision of a single, open, and globally interoperable Internet that fosters inclusion amongst a broad, global community of users.”
The ICANN Grant Program is an opportunity for eligible organizations across the globe to apply for funding for projects that are consistent with ICANN's mission and aligned with the objectives of the ICANN Grant Program.
The group hopes the new program will make a difference in the Internet ecosystem while also positively impacting people all over the world by investing in creative and innovative solutions that further ICANN's vision of a single, open, and globally interoperable Internet.
What will be funded? The types of initiatives that the ICANN Grant Program will fund include those that support ICANN's mission:
- Benefitting the development, distribution, and evolution of the services and systems that support the Internet's unique identifier systems.
- Providing capacity development.
- Advancing developments, innovation, and open standards for the benefit of the Internet community.
- Contributing to diversity, participation, and inclusion across stakeholder communities and geographic regions.
ICANN expects to begin accepting grant applications on March 25, 2024. The application window will remain open until May 24, 2024. A complete list of eligibility criteria can be found at https://icann.org/grant-program.