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Tag Archive: Mini-Grants

Our Mini-Grantees Rock!

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Today, Sunlight is announcing new Mini-Grants as part of its commitment to support original ideas, tools, Web sites, and bloggers that further our mission of using the Internet to foster a more open government.

These new projects (scroll down for our Mini-Grantees) demonstrate the creativity of citizens in using the Internet to give the public the power to learn more about their elected representatives and to engage as communities in monitoring, conversing and connecting over the work of Congress. Each of the work of these new Sunlight grantees creates greater transparency for our elected officials. Their work will strengthen citizen participation in the democratic process.

Check out the work of Geocoder.us that provides free address look-up information based on the U.S. Census, so that users can enter any address or intersection and learn the longitude and latitude coordinates for that location, or the work of Knowledge As Power which will develop a legislator email management and constituent relations communications system to increase transparency between legislators and their constituents. Speechology.org will host a Web site that will archive video of key political speeches-including debates, State of the Union addresses, convention speeches congressional testimony and campaign advertisements-and facilitate online public critical analysis. And three additional grants -- Pacific Northwest Topic Hotlist, Richmond Sunlight and the Utah News Aggregator -- have developed innovative ways to create more transparency for their legislators closer to home.

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Announcing Six New Grants

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We're announcing today a combination of large and mini-grants to promote openness and citizen involvement in the work of Congress. See here for the full press release.

Each of these grants is exciting in its own way: two of the larger grants are cutting edge projects in the world of citizen journalism - one to Jay Rosen's NewAssignment.Net and the other to Dan Gillmor's Center for Citizen Media.

I feel like Jay's project is on the cusp of making some very big waves. As I said to him, if this works (and I think it will), the Washington game will never be the same again. The oh-so-cozy relationship between lawmakers and the old media will be replaced by something that is much more powerful - fearless citizens. I am certain that the establishment media will be challenged - and that's a very good thing - by this experiment's anticipated successes and perhaps they will recall that their mission to "afflict the comfortable." And one further thought: what Rosen is trying to do with NewAssignment.Net is something that media reform activists should start paying attention to since it can offer a way around the mainstream media's failure.

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Announcing Mini-Grants

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The Sunlight Network, our affiliated advocacy group, is announcing today  a series of "mini-grants," in the $1,000 to $5,000 range, for local or regional nonprofit organizations and non-affiliated groups that have innovative approaches to strengthening the relationship between Members of Congress and the citizens they represent. (Note that the website for the Sunlight Network is not yet live.)

We are particularly encouraging applications from existing small nonprofits, local or regional chapters of national organizations and groups of individuals. Grants are available to augment existing projects or to jumpstart new ones. Grants will be made available on a rolling basis starting July 15. Sunlight believes that open, honest, sincere representation is possible, and that engaged citizens can make it happen. These are grants designed to stimulate your action!

We'll make our decisions based on projects' creativity, their likelihood of success, and the degree to which they match Sunlight's goals. We strongly favor efforts that are themselves open and democratic in their internal structure. We are very excited to see what you come up with.

Send a one-page summary of your proposed project, a budget (including the amount requested from Sunlight) and contact information to Zephyr Teachout, National Director, Sunlight Network, zteachout at sunlightfoundation dot com.

We don't want to prejudge what might come in the door, but here are a couple of some hypothetical examples which might jump-start your thinking:  

An Austin, TX website that aggregates news and commentary on local issues and blogs about it might seek a grant to expand their work to cover their Congressional delegation. The money they request is for travel, a video camera, Lexis-Nexis access.

 A group of students in Miami want to investigate the placement of a controversial landfill so they ask for a grant to pay for research that seeks to show that business interests which may have supported local politicians may have distorted decision-making regarding placement of the landfill. Their grant funds the investigative report and its broadcasting on the web.

Citizen Porkbusters in Kansas wants a grant to create an online video to educate other citizens about the powerful moneyed interests behind the promotion of ethanol. They plan to place the video on YouTube.

We can't wait to hear your ideas. Send them to Nisha Thompson at nthompson at sunlightfoundation dot com.

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