Russian Civic Networking Program (RCNP)
Invitation for Partnership
Friends and Partners, with support of the Ford Foundation, Eurasia
Foundation and other interested organizations, announces its intention to
further develop the Russian civic networking program. Three communities
will be chosen on the basis of competitive application and will be
provided with equipment, funding for basic operating and salary expenses
and, pending additional support, funding for a civic networking conference
in the US.
This is a cooperative Russia-U.S. planning and demonstration project to
promote development and wide-spread availability of advanced
telecommunications technologies and civic networking to enhance the
delivery of social services and generally serve public interests; to
promote access to government information and increase civic participation;
and to support the advancement of an nationwide civic networking
infrastructure in Russia.
Anyone interested in submitting an application should contact the program
officers as soon as possible in order to receive proposal and budget
guidelines. You can reach us at the addresses listed below or, more
easily, via email at:
Applications for the RCNP must be mailed, hand-carried or electronically
delivered to the address listed below and received by the Friends and
Partners Foundation, Russia on or before 11:59 p.m., October 8, 1999.
Proposals must be submitted in both English and Russian languages. F&P
anticipates that it will take four weeks to process all applications and
make funding determinations.
Please no phone calls, all questions must be submitted by email.
Friends and Partners Foundation,
Russia Moscow, 125252,
Kuusenena Str., 21 B, CIIC,
For further information, please contact:
Natasha Bulashova, President
Friends and Partners, Russia
Greg Cole, Director
Center for International Networking Initiatives
The University of Tennessee
Phone: (423) 974-7277 Fax: (423) 974-8022
Information on this program may be retrieved from the Russian Civic
Networking WWW site at:
Additional information on the Friends and Partners project is available at:
The primary goal of the RCNP is to cooperatively develop three additional
model civic network sites (in addition to the three established during the
first year of the project - Sergiev Posad, Samara, Chelyabinsk) within
Russia and to broadly disseminate the results and the findings of these
initiatives. The RCNP represents a close partnership between community
networking activists in Russia and the U.S.
It is expected that success of these projects and a good information base
describing the progress of their development will result in momentum for a
broader civic networking movement within Russia and improved civic
networks for participants in U.S. communities.
Because the focus of the program is specifically on civic networking, a
thorough review of the accompanying materials about civic networking as
well as other literature and research into civic networks elsewhere in the
world should prove instrumental in developing a successful project. It is
highly recommended that potential applicants utilize information resources
on the WWW site indicated above.
The RCNP will provide necessary equipment, travel, support and additional
salary/operating funds for the first year of operation. A second year of
funding is dependent upon available funds and upon a mid-term performance
appraisal within the first year.
Successful civic networks are driven by a broad set of social ideals and
goals - foremost being how modern information communications technology
can be used for community development purposes. Just as with modern public
libraries, civic networks are worth supporting because of the greater
public good resulting from their availability and use.
This program aims to help communities develop civic networks which provide
services of genuine local relevance and benefit for the local community.
An additional aim of this project is to demonstrate how these technologies
can be used for fostering communications and information sharing between
Russian communities. Thus, each civic network in this project will be
integrated into the Friends and Partners "intranet," a larger network in
which each community networks' content will be shared on each of the other
community network servers. The goal is to have each community continually
sharing its own development with each community participating in the
These same technologies are beneficial on a global scale as well. For this
reason, each civic network will carry the full content of the larger
Friends and Partners project locally and its content will be mirrored at
the various Friends and Partners locations in other parts of the world. In
addition to the local content developed for local purposes (and, of
course, published in the Russian language) each participating site will
also publish some material in the English language which will be of
interest to the global community. The goal is to help demonstrate how
technologies can be used to effect partnerships with individuals and
organizations in other parts of the world.
One of the primary objectives in establishing civic network is to extend
access and use of local, regional, national, and international information
and communication services to the local public who might not otherwise
have the possibility of such access. Of equal importance is the ability of
civic networks to offer this same public the ability to publish
information. This can prove to be of vital importance giving "voice" to
such groups as non-governmental organizations, educators, government
agencies, religious organizations, senior citizens, etc. But the most
important objective of civic networking is to establish broad consortium
of participants from various sectors of local community life who agree to
work together to develop a shared information and communications resource
of genuine benefit to the local community.
Through this project we wish to help communities develop their own
information services and supplement this software for constructing
interactive bulletin board systems, email listservers, interactive chat
sessions, etc. The community networks will provide software which will
allow access to basic Internet service such as email, World Wide Web,
telnet, ftp, etc., but will also make possible the easy construction of a
WWW accessible version of the local information and communications
network. The software must support local language content (initially
handling Russian and English languages) and must provide facility for
handling the different Russian character set encodings.
To facilitate the goal of sharing information and communications across
the "intranet" of 6 civic networking sites, Friends and Partners will
develop and make available for each local community:
One of the reasons we are proposing a project of multiple civic network
sites (instead of investing more resources of a single civic network) is
to lay the foundation for a community of individuals and initiatives
involved in Russian community networking. By helping develop several civic
networks simultaneously, we can take advantage of a wider body of
experience which should prove useful to initial and subsequent efforts.
- software to make it easy for new civic networking sites to build
and maintain community networks in different locations and to mirror
specified parts of the community networks in other locations.
- optionally, basic server and telecommunications hardware for
establishment of the community network to make some level of public
dial-in access available to local citizens and organizations.
- assistance with continuing programs of training and support for system
administrators, for community development activists and for end users.
- development and support of an active communications network among local
community network developers, system administrators, and users for
facilitating indigenous development of civic networking throughout Russia.
Of course, this creates additional challenges for project management. To
help make it manageable, we will encourage use of identical hardware and
software platforms, will provide common software tools for web authoring
and management, other tools for listserver management (and other
communication services such as chat rooms and bulletin board systems) and
will provide a web site and communications services to support the network
of community networks - with specific services for system administrators
and others for community network activists.
By taking care of many of the technical and management problems on the
front end, we will ensure that technical issues do not dominate community
network deployment; we can instead together focus on what is required to
make community network successful as far as broad based community
interest, support and participation.
By mirroring each community network at each other's site, making local
access quick and easy, each community network can stay well informed about
what the other is doing - taking advantage of good ideas and building upon
them. To further collaboration among the various participants, the program
requires that each site develop at least one resource that is of genuine
interest and all benefits to other community networks. We are suggesting
that each create and maintain a "topical" community network focused on a
discipline or interest area in which local participants have interest and
possibilities of contribution. By doing so, we hope to encourage
collaboration across the entire network of civic networks. Additionally,
each civic network will be required to develop dual-language content that
will be "mirrored" on the international network of Friends of Partners
servers. The focus of such services should be of broad interest to
individuals in other parts of the world to draw attention to the local
community and hopefully help establish partnerships with individuals and
Each of the three to four proposals selected for initial participation
will be provided with the following.
A mid-grant performance appraisal will be used to determine eligibility
for a second year of funding. Emphasis of the second year of the grant
will be establishing a local funding mechanism for long term
sustainability of the civic network.
- A Sun Sparc Station,UNIX server, which will provide for user accounts,
web servers, email, dial in access, etc. This will also include basic
telecommunications equipment, if needed, to handle 8-16 incoming telephone
- A scanner to be used with public access publishing workstation
(workstation to be provided by the local community).
- Pending additional support, funding to cover travel expenses for 2
individuals per site for a two week planning/strategy conference in the
U.S. working with Russian and American community networking activists.
(funding for this second conference is now under consideration and will be
confirmed later this year)
- An additional funding installment, not to exceed $16,500 to cover local
salary, operating and travel expenditures associated with the first year
of the grant.
Grant recipients under this program will be required to provide matching
funds for the total project costs. The RCNP will provide up to fifty
percent (50%) of the total project costs unless extraordinary
circumstances warrant a grant of up to seventy-five percent (75%). A
project will not be considered fundable unless the applicant can document
a capacity both to supply matching funds and to sustain a project beyond a
period of the award. Cash matching and in-kind matching are equally
desirable. Suggested areas of matching include telecommunications access,
partial salary support, supply of additional public access computers, etc.
It is strongly recommended that at least two individuals be devoted
full-time to the project. Salaries for these positions can be funded from
the grant. All overhead expenses must be absorbed by local organizations.
Each application must represent the joint submission of a broad consortia
of organizations in the local community and including representation of
and close partnership between government organizations, non-government
organizations, educational institutions, health care providers, religious
organizations, commercial organizations, telecommunications providers,
social service agencies, public safety offices, etc. The application must
be submitted by a representative, responsible organization which may be a
local or regional government, a non-profit organization, educational
institution, or other non-profit entity. This organization assumes legal
and fiduciary responsibility for all received funds and equipment. Since
funding for this program is being provided by other sponsor organizations,
recipients will be subject to additional terms and conditions which will
be provided at the time of award.
The grant period for each successful applicant will begin in October 1999.
The end of the first year grant will be exactly one year later, with a
second year of funding dependent upon sufficient funds and a satisfactory
mid-program evaluation. During award period the Friends and Partners
Russia organization has a duty to monitor and evaluate the funded
Limited funds available for the RCNP program do not permit payment of
indirect costs or overhead expenses. But well documented institutional
costs can be applied towards the matching required under this program.
Project Funding Priorities
Funding under this program will be awarded to support projects which
demonstrate the highest probability of success of developing locally
significant civic networks which can also serve as models for others. An
important element of this is a plan for disseminating the knowledge gained
as a result of carrying out the project.
The program will support projects that empower citizens, promote equal
opportunity, protect individuals' rights, and strengthen civic
institutions. Principal consideration will be given to applications that
promote effective provision of education, health care, public safety,
libraries, community information services, and other approaches that
foster public participation in civic life.
This project is funded by continuation of a broad effort to develop civic
networking in Russia. It is anticipated that 3 applications will be
funded. This project is only the first phase of a much broader effort to
develop civic networking in Russia. The RCNP is very committed to working
with those individuals and organizations submitting meritorious
applications and will, where possible, provide assistance and additional
resources to help those community networking efforts not chosen on this
initial round of funding.
The success of any grant program depends upon its ability to fund only
those projects that are well thought out and comprehensively planned.
Therefore, no funds will be expended under this program unless the project
demonstrates the most economic and efficient use of scarce resources.
Other general criteria that all applicants should address are:
1. Commitment to Civic Networking
An understanding of and commitment to civic networking is the key
criterion on which proposals will be evaluated.
For the purposes of this program, civic networking is defined as:
". . . a process, facilitated by the tools of electronic communications
and information, that improves and magnifies human communication and
interaction in a [local] community by:
Proposal must clearly address the following issues:
* Bringing together people within local communities and focusing their
attention on key issues within the community for debate, deliberation and
* Organizing human communication and information relevant to the
communities' needs and problems on a timely basis
* Requiring, engaging, and involving - on an ongoing basis - the
participation of a broad base of citizens, including community activists,
leaders, sponsors, and service providers
* Striving to include people from all sectors and levels of the community
including different socio-economic levels *Making basic services available
at a fair and reasonable cost - or, as many espouse, at no cost - for
broad-based access within the community
* Most importantly, doing what commercial [Internet service] providers find
difficult to do well: represent local culture, local relevance, local
pride, and a strong sense of community ownership
[from "Assessment and Evolution of Community Networking", The Morino
- Proposed governance structure for the civic network - including a board
of directors, a committee structure, and plans to develop and manage a
corps of volunteers
- Technical competencies required to maintain the civic network server
- Telecommunications access - including access from the local server to
the larger Internet and from local community computers to the local
server. Please see Item #2 (Technical Considerations) for additional
information on this very important item.
- Provision of public access sites.
- Provision of regular programs of training and support.
- Plans for encouragement and support of electronic publishing by local
organizations and individuals. The strongest proposals will suggest a
decentralized model of information publishing in which organizations have
direct responsibility for and control of their published material.
- Development of locally relevant useful information and communications
services. For example, directories of local government offices, officials,
and services; community event calendars, etc.
2. Technical Considerations
A major goal of this program is the integration of networks. F&P will not
foster stand-alone, "dedicated networks," that are incapable, for either
technical or practical reasons, of interconnecting with other networks and
systems. In part, applicants will be judged on the extent to which they
plan to coordinate information infrastructure activities in their
community and region.
Each civic network must provide for basic Internet connectivity.
Each application must describe in detail all arrangements for Internet
connectivity including letters from Internet service providers or other
partners providing for Internet connectivity. The information must clearly
indicate all layers of telecommunications connectivity - including
provision of at least 4
telephone lines (for public access workstations) to the central civic
networking server; including connectivity from the server to the local
Internet service provider; and including the local Internet service
provider's arrangements for connection to the Internet. Diagrams may be
helpful in describing all levels of connectivity. All costs for Internet
service (including Internet traffic costs (if applicable)) must be clearly
indicated and arrangements for payment indicated.
Applicants must consider the concept of "interoperability," the view that
every system, no matter its level of sophistication or geographic extent,
is part, ultimately, of a global communication system that allows one
end-user to communicate "transparently" with another end-user,
irrespective of distance or time.
The RCNP requires applications to be jointly developed and submitted by
consortia representing many different sectors of local community life.
Proposals should include representation from such organizations as: local
government, non-government organizations, educational institutions, health
care organizations, commercial organizations, religious institutions,
social service agencies, environmental organizations, public safety
Applicants should be aware of other relevant information infrastructure
projects in the community or region. To the extent possible, applicants
should plan to coordinate their projects with other relevant projects.
There are many individuals and sectors of society with a stake in the
information infrastructure. How an applicant intends to incorporate their
opinions and concerns into the civic networking effort is crucial to
success. The breadth and depth of representation, including a balanced
representation of rural and urban, professional, socioeconomic, ethnic,
cultural and other relevant interests, is important. Some questions for an
applicant to address include:
- To what extent will the applicant work to promote public/private
- What procedures will ensure that individuals and entities can provide
- What public and private sector entities will be involved, and at what
If possible, partnership with commercial Internet service providers is
recommended. Civic networking efforts have proven the value of
collaborative efforts between public and private sectors - with public
efforts helping to "grow" markets for higher end needs which can be
serviced by the commercial sector. Civic networks must not unfairly
compete with organizations whose livelihood depends upon providing
F&P expects applicants to carefully consider safeguards for the privacy of
the information flowing through the information infrastructure funded
through this grant program. While not mandating specifics, it is expected
that applicants will demonstrate a high level of respect for the privacy
of users' information and data.
5. Eliminating Disparity of Access
One of the key motivations for civic networking is to promote equity of
access, so that the information age does not create information "haves"
and "have nots." Applicants should address how they intend to support the
goal of promoting widespread access, and eliminating or reducing
disparities in access, to the information infrastructure, consistent with
the scope of the project. F&P will look favorably on proposals that enable
common Russian citizens to learn how to use, and benefit from, information
infrastructure, without unreasonable burden or expense. For example, each
interested citizen in a local community should be able to obtain and
utilize an email account and to browse both local and global information
Applicants should also consider how to train end-users in the use of
information technologies. This section should address questions such as:
- How will the applicant's proposal help ensure end-user ease of access to
the telecommunications infrastructure?
- How will the planning or implementation process encourage community
- How will the planning or implementation process address the issue of
access to the information infrastructure by minorities, disadvantaged, or
otherwise under-served populations?
- Who is best qualified to provide the training?
- Can end-users use the system to produce and disseminate information, as
well as gain access to information?
- Is the system or network user friendly, so that it does not discourage
new users, or those who are not "computer literate?"
- How will the widespread availability of telecommunications and
information infrastructure capabilities be promoted within the proposal?
- How should the costs of ensuring adequate access be allocated?
- Will the plan stimulate demand for new telecommunications services?
6. Role of Existing Information Infrastructure
Applicants are strongly encouraged to partner with existing organizations
who can supply telecommunications capacity. If an applicant requests
support to construct new transmission capacity, there should be a clear
discussion of why utilization of existing networks and systems cannot be
relied upon efficiently and economically to meet the project's needs. A
proposal should address whether incorporation of existing information
infrastructure into the overall plan is feasible. Under this section,
applicants should address issues such as:
- What information infrastructure is currently available to the applicant?
- How can commercial and non-commercial providers of telecommunications
and information services help the applicant meet its information needs?
7. Accommodation of Future Technology and Flexibility
As communications and information technologies rapidly evolve and improve,
existing technology can quickly become obsolete. For this reason, all
applicants should consider how they intend to address this issue. The
capacity for upgrades and improvements, as well as the flexibility to
accommodate changes in the volume or types of uses, should be considered
from the beginning of any planning or development process.
8. Contribution to the Formation of a National Information Infrastructure
Applicants should explain how their proposed projects can make a
contribution to the development of a National Information Infrastructure.
Some questions that an applicant could consider are:
- What applications and services are being provided through the existing
- How will the project ensure connectivity to and integration with other
systems outside the immediate community or region?
9. Monitoring and Evaluation
Each application should clearly state its goals and a plan for monitoring
and evaluating realization of those goals. The plan should indicate
objective and subjective measurements which can be used to evaluate
successful implementation, usage and management of the civic network.
All applications will be subject to a thorough peer review process. A
panel composed of individuals fully conversant in the technical,
organizational and managerial aspects of civic networking will review the
proposals and make non-binding recommendations to Friends and Partners,
Russia. The final decision on successful applications will be made by
officers of Friends and Partners, Russia who administer this program. All
applicants should address the general criteria described above.
|Our gratitude is extended to a lot of thoughtful people at the U.S.
National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA - housed
within the U.S. Department of Commerce). Their 1994 TIIAP program
solicitation served as model (and provided much content) for this
Invitation for Partnership. It is one of the best designed and written
program solicitations that we have seen. More information on the NTIA is
available at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/