IBM selects Outreachy for second $50K open source community grant

The award will help the organization provide paid remote work to underrepresented groups hit especially hard during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

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IBM announced in a blog post on Friday that it had awarded its second $50,000 Open Source Community Grant to the nonprofit Outreachy "for their commitment to providing paid internships to underserved and underrepresented minorities." 

Outreachy is organized by the Software Freedom Conservancy and provides paid, three-month internships in the free and open source software (FOSS) space for people from groups that face underrepresentation, systemic bias, or discrimination in the technology industry of their countries, according to IBM. Interns are paid $5,500 and receive a $500 stipend to attend conferences or events, it said.

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The group was a runner-up in IBM's community grant last fall to Girls Who Code. The award provides $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in IBM Cloud credits. According to IBM, Girls Who Code put the grant to use to support its free after-school clubs program (over 6,500+ clubs across the nation) that gives girls in third-12th grade the opportunity to learn how to code in their communities.

Outreachy said it would use the grant to fund more internships, which are open to applicants around the world; interns work remotely and are not required to move.

In the IBM blog post, Todd Moore, VP of open technology and developer advocacy, and Guillermo Mirandais, VP and global head of corporate social responsibility, noted the timeliness of the grant, saying, "it will help Outreachy provide paid remote work to underrepresented groups in a time when people are being forced to work from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, the parent organization of Outreachy, said in the post: "The current COVID-19 crisis underscores the inequities in our society. People who have jobs that can be done remotely find themselves in a stable situation and able to weather this crisis at home while many workers have no immediate way to earn a living without risking their lives."

"Getting paid home-based work to folks who are subject to systemic bias has never been more important than it is right now," Sandler added. "We're working to make this Outreachy round the biggest one ever to help the most people right now. This grant will make a big difference to offset the reduction in some of our corporate sponsorship from companies that are struggling."

IBM described its quarterly grant as a way for its open source community to recognize nonprofit organizations dedicated to education and skill building for women, underrepresented minorities, and underserved communities, while also promoting open source.

The grant identifies and rewards future developers and open source leaders and creates new tech opportunities for underrepresented communities, IBM said.

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Outreachy said it explicitly invites applications from women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people and people from Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander backgrounds.

The internship and mentoring program said it has converted the travel payment to support people in their efforts to stay at home while the current pandemic crisis continues.

According to its website, Outreachy had 50 interns from December to March. Initial applications for the May to August round are closed, and a future round is scheduled for December.

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Image: IBM

By Mickey Meece

Mickey Meece is a freelance editor and writer. She's edited for The New York Times, Axios, Insider Louisville and TechRepublic. She has contributed articles to the NYT, the New York Post, Insider Louisville, TechRepublic and Considerable.