2016 has been a long and difficult year for many worldwide; with the loss of many role models, the rise of intolerance, and the fear of a bleak future ahead, the importance of inclusion in our field (but also in our cultures and societies) becomes obvious. As we’re getting close to the end of the year, we wanted to take a look back at 2016 by focusing on the positive and looking at what it brought us and what we achieved. Overall, it’s been a great work year for us: we’ve helped 40 women to get started into Open Source and supported underrepresented people to get to conferences they wanted to attend. Read more below.
Launching Diversity Tickets
One of our biggest projects this year (and to date) was the launch of our platform Diversity Tickets; done in collaboration with the Berlin-based study group Ruby Monstas, it allows conferences to provide free tickets to members of underrepresented groups in tech with minimum effort. The project had been in the works for a while and was finally launched in April 2016; since then, we’ve supported 17 conferences by either listing their conference, handling their application process, or handling the application and selection process ourselves. This means that, together with these conferences, we’ve given 90 underrepresented people in tech the possibility to attend a conference they would not have been able to attend otherwise. And this is just the beginning! There are five upcoming conferences we’re currently working with, including Git Merge and Script, and we’re hoping to see this number grow in the next few months.
Ruby Monstas | Image: Anika Lindtner
Open Source Grants: Get ready for 2017
Earlier this year, we introduced Open Source Grants to support Open Source projects financially for a few months at a time; but fundraising for each and every project over and over again is extremely hard and as everyone who ever ran a continuous program will know — usually not possible with restricted resources. Grants are difficult to organise and as a non-profit, we have limited funds to make it happen.
What we want to see for Open Source Grants is a sustainable process that works well for everyone involved, and with which we’d be able to regularly give financial aid to inclusive Open Source projects. The idea of financing Open Source isn’t new, and yet it’s innovative: Even though we all rely on and use Open Source Software, not enough companies support Open Source financially (by either funding projects directly or allowing their employees to partly or fully work on Open Source). We’ve analysed some possible solutions for a sustainable process and in 2017, we hope to find a way to make Open Source Grants a reality, by allowing companies and individuals to get involved.
Administrative bits and pieces
As a non-profit, we are able to support grassroots initiatives by being their legal, financial and organisational partner. This means taking care of administrative matters such as receiving sponsorships on behalf of initiatives and sending donation receipts to the sponsors, as we have done this year with ClojureBridge Berlin (a free, beginner-friendly Clojure workshop for women and non-binary people) and with Prompt (an organisation that wants to start a discussion about mental health in tech by supporting speakers to talk about their personal experiences). This year, Prompt have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes in connecting speakers and organisers, to make sure that the topic of mental health was present at a lot of tech conferences worldwide.
Our work often also entails giving these initiatives a platform to communicate on (such as slack channels) or helping them to connect to interesting organisations and people to network, as in the case with Speakerinnen (a platform that lists women speakers, so conferences can diversify their line-up) and Heart of Code (Berlin’s first women*-only hackerspace). In summer, we decided to support the brand-new Heart of Code and have since then been thinking of the best ways to get involved to maximise our support—we can’t share much yet, but we’re looking forward to working more with them in the future! The team behind the hackerspace will also be at 33C3 this year with merch we’ve chipped in for, so if you happen to be in Hamburg next week, make sure to drop by, talk to them, and pick up some stickers.
The Speakerinnen app | Image: speakerinnen.org
Our day-to-day work is sometimes rewarded with extreme pride towards the projects we support: Speakerinnen were recently announced as one of 17 projects to receive a PrototypeFund Grant, which is amazing news for both the founders of the initiative, and for all the women who have signed up on the speakerinnen.org platform to diversify conference stages worldwide. Congratulations!
At the end of September, we ended another successful edition of RGSoC — our summer program to support women* in contributing to Open Source software. We have been running this program since 2013 and have had incredible success rates and stories since. From participants who end up creating their own Open Source project after the end of the 3-months to women who find developer jobs shortly after successfully finishing the program, the role models we create through the program are many: a survey we’ve done recently shows that over 50% of our participants keep contributing to Open Source, even after the summer is over. Many of them also give back to their community, whether by mentoring or coaching students in the following RGSoC editions or running and coaching at their own local workshops. This year, we were able to support 20 teams (that’s 40 women*!) in making their dream to contribute to Open Source come true, which makes us incredibly proud of the work we’ve achieved.
To continue our important work, we need your help: Every little financial donation helps, so if you want to do something good this holiday, donate to us! You’ll enable us to keep working on the things that matter: diversity in our industry and a better Open Source community.
We’re working on setting up a system to donate through our website, but for now you can send all donations via bank transfer to the following account:
Account Name: TRAVIS FOUNDATION UG HAFTUNGSBESCHRÄNKT
We can also provide donation receipts or invoices, so if you need one, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Holidays, and see you in 2017!
* women and non-binary people.