ACCESS NOW GRANTS
We provide flexible and grantee-driven funding to grassroots and frontline organizations fighting for human rights in the digital age. We pursue this work at a time when civil society around the world is working under increasingly difficult circumstances, from targeted censorship, to restrictions on operations, to threats to physical safety. It is also a time when the digital space has become a critical battleground in broader human rights struggles, as well as a place where marginalization, societal discrimination, and violence can be reproduced and even amplified. We aim to strengthen the global digital rights community by expanding, diversifying, and empowering the movement at the grassroots.
Who we Fund
Our grantees work with users and communities most at risk of and most detrimentally impacted, online or off, by digital rights violations.
Where We Fund
We fund work in low- and middle-income countries, parts of the world receiving the least amount of human rights funding. In rare cases, we support efforts that directly support people in one of these countries, even if the grantee is not based there.
Grassroots organizations rooted in at-risk communities with limited access to funding
Frontline organizations working in contexts where the impacts of digital rights violations are most severe
Organizations working at the intersection of digital rights and other human rights issues
Feminist organizations working to protect the digital rights of women, LGBTQI+ people, and gender nonconforming people
Building Latin America’s first context-specific resource for victims of online harassment, including dissemination of nonconsensual pornography. From reporting to online platforms, to pursuing legal remedies, to opening community dialogue and defending sexual freedoms, Acoso.Online empowers women, LGBTQI people, and their supporters to report, recover, and resist. The tool is localized in 14 countries, with coverage expanding throughout the region.
Conducting participatory research to uncover the digital security needs of activists and human rights defenders in Chiapas, Mexico, as well as the broader context of surveillance and other digital threats to human rights and the state.
Sursiendo supports at-risk users in a region with a history of violent repression of social movements and indigenous communities.
Researching issues including censorship, surveillance, and profiling of Palestinians on social media, and advocating for better policies to protect Palestinians’ freedom of expression. 7amleh has integrated digital rights into the broader Palestinian rights movement and has led the charge within Palestinian civil society to hold tech companies accountable for the human rights impact of their policies.
Training sex workers and LGBTQI individuals on digital security, and advocating for internet freedoms from a human rights perspective. iFreedom Uganda — a network of 28 member organizations — was founded to ensure that marginalized groups in Uganda are able to freely express themselves without fear of reprisal from state agencies and dangerous hacking groups.
Providing systematic physical, technological, legal, and psychosocial assistance to human rights defenders, journalists, environmental and indigenous rights activists, and feminist and LGBT leaders across Central America, who face violence and criminalization of their activism. Acceso coordinates efforts to document and investigate digital attacks on civil society through its Regional Digital Security Observatory.
WHAT WE FUND
Threats to digital rights take many forms, depending on the context and unique challenges specific users or communities face, ranging from censorship and network disruption, to communications surveillance, to lack of protections for personal data, to online harassment, and beyond. Likewise, Access Now grantees are tackling a diverse array of digital rights challenges with an equally diverse set of approaches depending on their context and the opportunities they see to create positive change.
Some examples of what Access Now Grants supports include:
Research, monitoring, advocacy, and public campaigns to fight internet shutdowns
Digital security accompaniment for users at risk, such as women, LGBTQI+ people, human rights defenders, and minority communities
Efforts to combat online violence through direct interventions with at-risk users and tech companies
Documentation and advocacy to fight impunity for digital attacks on human rights defenders, journalists, activists, and other at-risk groups
Protection of digital civic space during elections and conflict, and in the face of content takedowns, surveillance, troll armies, etc.
Projects to integrate digital rights into broader human rights movements to ensure they are effective and protected in the digital space
Strategies for advancing individual control of our digital identities that center the experiences of those most detrimentally impacted by violations of privacy rights
HOW WE FUND
Our grantmaking is grounded in international human rights frameworks and takes an intersectional approach that recognizes that threats to digital rights are compounded when they intersect with other human rights abuses or discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, class, or other means of marginalization. Our commitment to communities and users most at risk manifests itself in different ways in different contexts and focuses on these intersections.
Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline, global team, and Advisory Board are integral to our ability to identify and understand the needs of grassroots activists and organizations.
Be transparent about criteria, internal processes, and decisions
Ensure respect for and accountability to our grantees through our processes and communications, while acknowledging and working to flatten the power imbalances between funder and grantee
Use clear and simple procedures and language that can be understood by applicants and the broader community
Allow local actors and communities to define priorities and set their own goals
Provide flexibility to respond to emerging opportunities and external needs
Require limited paperwork and reduce the administrative burden on grantees whenever possible
Continuously self-evaluate and engage within the sector to identify how Access Now can most effectively operate, fund, and contribute
Types of Grants
Funds projects with explicit end goals, finite timelines, and clear objectives.
AVERAGE GRANT: $29,000
Awarded to organizations whose activities are closely aligned with the mission of Access Now Grants, and who have a demonstrated body of programmatic work.
Funds can be used for any general operating costs.
AVERAGE GRANT: $54,000
Funds initiatives responding to emergencies and emerging needs or capturing imminent opportunities.
Funds are small and short term.
Maximum grant size is $10,000.
AVERAGE GRANT: $7,000
DIGITAL SAFE SPACES GRANTS
Funds human rights organizations that are amplifying the voices of marginalized groups online and want to improve their digital security. The nature of their work and the communities they work on behalf of may make them particularly at risk online or particularly effective online.
AVERAGE GRANT: $9,000
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Email us at [email protected]
Access Now has assembled an Advisory Board to provide strategic guidance and oversight of grant recipients. This board is made up of experts in the regions and fields in which Access Now gives grants, and helps us ensure accountability, local relevance, and community engagement in our program. We would like to thank the following individuals for donating their time and energy:
Abir Ghattas (Lebanon)
Information Security Technologist, Human Rights Watch
Arzu Geybullyeva (Azerbaijan / Turkey)
Regional Analyst & Blogger, Global Voices
Grace L.N Mutung’u (Kenya)
Kenyan ICT lawyer
Harlo Holmes (U.S.)
Digital Security Trainer, Freedom of the Press Foundation
Loreto Bravo (Mexico)
Latin American feminist without borders, consultant in community telecommunications, free software and digital security. Digital Integrity Fellow-DDP/Hivos
Meerim Ilyas (Kyrgyzstan / U.S.)
Deputy Head of Protection, Front Line Defenders
Berhan Taye (Ethiopia / Kenya)
Tech and Social Justice Researcher and Advisor
Statement on Grantee Autonomy: While Access Now Grants works closely with Access Now’s other programmatic teams, Access Now Grantees are under no requirement to collaborate with Access Now’s Policy, Advocacy, Tech, or RightsCon teams or to agree with Access Now’s positions and tactics on specific issues. The grants program has the independence to support grantees’ efforts regardless of whether they are aligned with Access Now’s policy positions. We take the aim of diversifying the digital rights movement seriously, and this includes diversity of perspectives, analysis, and tactics.
Access Now Grants is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other funders. Please contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in supporting our grants program.