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Access Now Grants: how we supported activists in 2023

All around the world, activists,  civil society advocates, and human rights defenders face threats like internet shutdowns, censorship, surveillance, and spyware attacks. Through our Access Now Grants program — now in its ninth year —  we provide  flexible, grantee-driven financial support to the grassroots and frontline organizations confronting these threats. We do this because we believe the people most directly impacted by attacks on human rights — from Palestine to Myanmar to Ukraine and beyond — are best placed to define solutions and implement them. Below is an overview of our grant-making in 2023, including a deep dive into the humanitarian response to the Gaza crisis, which was sparked that year. 


In 2023, Access Now Grants awarded a total of just under $1.7 million USD, fortifying our collective efforts to defend and extend digital rights. We provided 66 grants to 63 organizations and individuals leading digital rights efforts in about 30 countries. 

The grantees we supported are doing inspiring work to raise awareness and strengthen activism related to digital rights; enhance the digital security of at-risk activists, organizations, and communities; and push for locally driven policy solutions that advance digital rights. Through their contextually rooted and relevant work, they address a diverse set of issues, deploy a variety of tactics, and center often-excluded communities. 

We strive to support those who need it most. Currently, Access Now Grants reserves nearly all of our funding for people and organizations in Global Majority countries. In 2023, we awarded the highest number of grants (20) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, followed by Asia Pacific (15), Africa (13), the Middle East and North Africa (10), Latin America and the Caribbean (7), and one grantee that works on the global level but supports journalists and human rights organizations operating in countries experiencing armed conflict and crisis

Notably, 71% of our 2023 grants supported efforts in countries that Freedom House has classified as “not free” in its Freedom in the World reporting. We also extended funding to organizations and communities we had not previously supported, including in Libya, Iraq, Palestine, Thailand, and Senegal. In addition, 25% of our grants focused on defending gender and sexuality rights and supported people who identify as women, non-binary, or LGBTQ+

In addition to ensuring we reach people with the funding they need, we work to provide the kind of longer-term support that can help organizations build momentum. In 2023, 60% of the grantees that received core, project, and discretionary grants were receiving their third or more year of consecutive funding.


It is impossible to remark on any human rights efforts in 2023 without acknowledging the genocide now unfolding in Palestine. After the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, we have seen digital threats play a devastating role in deepening the crisis in Gaza:  from the Israeli military’s reported use of  AI technology to bomb and kill Palestinians, often with their family; to internet shutdowns that restrict Gazans’ access to life-saving information and ability to communicate; to communication platforms’ censorship of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian voices; to the documented increase in hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians online.

For human rights activists in every corner of the world it has been devastating to see the extent of the failure and inadequacy of the human rights system and world governments to address the Gaza crisis. It is also a stark reminder of how distant and irrelevant international law can be to those facing the most extreme human rights violations. Many of the organizations that Access Now Grants supports — in Palestine and elsewhere — are working to push international and national human rights bodies to recognize how digital technology can deepen the disproportionate harm people and communities are already experiencing due to systemic discrimination and violence. They are contributing evidence to document the harm and mobilizing their communities in defense of human rights, while also urging authorities to support and foster positive, safety-enhancing uses of technology.

As it stands in 2024, we are continuing to witness the utter failure of the human rights system to meet even its most basic purpose in response to Israel’s attack on Gaza. It has not stopped tens of thousands of people from being killed, nor has it preserved the basic infrastructure necessary for daily life — from hospitals and schools, to farms and water systems, to communications infrastructure.  Yet at the same time,  we are seeing an unprecedented response from civil society and people around the world, who are demanding a permanent ceasefire and a just, peaceful, and free future. This is the kind of action people should take in response to profound human rights failure, whenever and wherever it happens

As we continue our grant-making in the year ahead, in Palestine and around the world, we remain committed to human rights organizations and activists who are fighting for justice, security, and dignity for their communities and for all of us. Their collective work is more necessary and urgent than ever.


Below is a list of the grants we awarded in 2023. Some grants are not included for security reasons. Others must be listed anonymously.