Sunlight Accepting Applications for Mini-grants for 2007

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The Sunlight Foundation is offering grants of $1,000 to $5,000 for local groups that have creative ideas for changing the relationship between elected Federal representatives and the people they represent. This is the second year of our mini-grant program. Last year we funded five extraordinary programs (see below) selected from nearly one hundred applicants.

Successful applicants will receive the grant, consulting and strategic support, and networking opportunities. Our goal is to provide that extra element that takes a project from good to great — server space, a video camera, or access to polling data — or provide the seed that makes a new project viable. Projects could range from citizen media, to creative use of the internet to engage citizens in watchdogging, to opening up new ways of communicating with federal lawmakers to creative mapping of lawmakers’ activities.

We encourage applications from existing small local nonprofits and websites, from offshoots of national groups, from individuals, and from informal groups of citizens.

We plan to give a total of 8-10 grants over the year, and 3-5 grants in the first cycle, which begins today. The first set of mini-grant applications will be considered on a rolling basis between now and June 1.

Projects will be judged on how closely they fit with Sunlight’s purposes of using technology to enable citizens to learn more about what their elected representatives are doing, reducing corruption, and ensuring greater transparency. They will also be judged on their creativity, and their ability to grow or be replicated. As a general rule, we will not fund salaries or general overhead expenses, but will fund technological upgrades.

To apply, please send a one page summary of your project, a budget (including the amount requested from Sunlight) and contact information to our organizing and outreach director Nisha Thompson (nthompson@sunlightfoundation.com). Feel free to call her at 1-202-742-1520 if you have questions before applying.

Previous grantees are not eligible.

Below is a list of Mini-grantees 2006

Arizona Congresswatch. We made a grant of $1,650 for access to poll data to this organization that is a one-stop shop for all information on Arizona members of Congress. Arizona Congresswatch, is constantly updated with every action a member of the congressional delegation takes, or statement he or she makes. The rate of updates and breadth of sources monitored make the Web site a reliable and trusted resource for anyone in Arizona to find out what their member of Congress is up to.

Connecticut Local Politics Blogspot. We made a $1,600 grant for an upgrade to this nonpartisan, nonprofit blog that covers Connecticut politics from town halls to its congressional delegation. The site, which began in January of 2005, welcomes all points of view, and includes opinion pieces on the news of the day from many viewpoints, interviews, live online question-and-answer sessions with candidates, an informational wiki about the 2006 election and coverage of major events.

Bluegrass Report. This blog won a Koufax award for its political reporting last year, and has become of hub of political life in Kentucky. Since then, BluegrassReport.org reached a technological limit with its very basic Web site as it tried to communicate with its 25,000 readers a week. We made a $2,500 grant that allowed Bluegrass Report to upgrade its Web site and add software to better educate the voters.

Metavid. We made a grant of $5,000 to this project which seeks to capture, stream, archive and facilitate real-time collective [re]mediation of Federal legislative proceedings. Metavid uses the Internet as a platform for the democratization of citizens’ relationships to their representatives. It opens up video source footage of House and Senate proceedings for permanent reusable online access, allowing citizens to remix, investigate, and track their representatives in a participant-driven open source archive.

More Perfect. We made a grant of $5,000 to this innovative new Web site that enables citizens to participate more directly in the creation of public policy and laws. More Perfect allows individuals, public interest groups, local governments and elected officials to present their issues, policy proposals and positions to a diverse and engaged audience, gathering real-time feedback while potentially avoiding a time consuming, costly and often uncertain public outreach process. More Perfect utilizes wiki-technology, made popular by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to allow visitors to the site the ability to directly edit Web pages on the site.

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