18 June 2010
Call for Applications: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2011 Access to Learning Award
We invite you to apply for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's annual Access to Learning Award, which recognizes the innovative efforts of public libraries and similar institutions outside the United States to connect people to information and opportunities through free access to computers and the Internet.
Computers and the Internet are powerful tools that provide opportunities for people to improve their social and economic well-being. Worldwide, just one person in six has access to the Internet. This means that more than five billion people miss out on chances to pursue education and employment, access government services, learn about valuable health information, conduct business online, and exchange information and ideas.
The Access to Learning Award encourages new, innovative ways to provide computer and Internet services to people without access, and promotes greater development of public access technology programs around the world.
The recipient of the Access to Learning Award will receive $1 million (U.S.).
THE APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR THE 2011 AWARD IS SEPTEMBER 30, 2010
WHAT KINDS OF INSTITUTIONS MAY APPLY?
The foundation invites public libraries and similar institutions outside the United States to apply. Applicants must provide free public access to information through the use of computers and the Internet. We particularly encourage applications from institutions in developing countries or those working with disadvantaged communities. We will give preference to organizations that actively reach out to underserved groups, such as patrons who are poor, disabled, or from minority communities.
HOW IS "FREE PUBLIC ACCESS" DEFINED?
A library or similar institution offers free public access to computers and the Internet if it allows all members of the public-without exception-to use its facilities, computers, and Internet at no cost. Eligible organizations charge no membership or access fees, make technology services available to the public in a community space, and offer technology training to the public and their staff. Organizations that restrict public access to their services-for example, on the basis of age or membership status-are not eligible for the award.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED INNOVATIVE?
Innovative programs provide access to information through technology and services that were previously not available to the community. We consider programs of any size or scope, and expect the application to address how a program impacts the community. We look for creative approaches to reaching underserved communities, with a demonstrated ability to be self-sustained (through current or identified sources of funding).
IS THIS AWARD INTENDED TO FUND A PROPOSED PROJECT OR ACTIVITY?
No. The award is a one-time prize for organizations that are currently working to provide free access to computers and the Internet. The award may be used to support future activities, but is given based on past achievement and not future projects.
PROCESS FOR SELECTION
An international advisory committee made up of librarians, information technology experts, and foundation staff evaluates applications based on candidates' innovative efforts to:
- make computer and Internet access free to the public
- train the public in using technology and accessing information
- educate staff on technology use
- reach out to underserved communities
The committee further reviews the ability of the candidate to serve as a model of innovation for other communities.
The committee selects a list of final candidates for consideration by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Following an independent financial and organizational review of the finalists, the foundation selects the award recipient.
HOW TO APPLY
Completed applications must be submitted by September 30, 2010.
OBTAINING APPLICATION FORMS
The Access to Learning Award application form is available for download at www.gatesfoundation.org/ATLA
The form is only available in English and must be completed in English in order to be eligible for review by the advisory committee.
Applications may also be requested by email at