grants

Announcing the Open Policy Network grant-funded projects

Timothy Vollmer, June 4th, 2015

Last year Creative Commons and a global coalition of organizations launched the Open Policy Network in order to support the creation, adoption, and implementation of policies that require that publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources. When open licenses are required for publicly funded resources, there is the potential to massively increase access to and re-use of a wide range of materials, from educational content like digital textbooks, to the results of scholarly research, to valuable public sector data.

The Network has expanded to include over 50 organizations. During the planning of the Open Policy Network, we identified a set of activities to work on in order to educate about and advance the adoption of global open licensing policies. Over the last few months Creative Commons was pleased to secure funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to provide modest grants to Open Policy Network members to work on these timely and important action areas. We solicited applications from interested organizations and ran a competitive funding process. We’re happy to announce the winners of the project grant funds, and we look forward to working with Open Policy Network members as they engage in these initiatives.

Openness Guides for OER and open policy (Centrum Cyfrowe)

This project will create guides that extend upon the existing “How Open Is it?” project originally developed for open access articles by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in 2013. This guide is seen as an important educational tool for the open access community – including publishers and authors – which provides some nuance around a spectrum of openness and shows a roadmap to becoming “more open.” We see these guides being used in practice as something governments and advocates can use to advocate for open policies.

Model open policies and advocacy / implementation resources (CC South Africa/re:share/Kelsey Wiens)

This project will create and distribute model open policy resources, a task central to the mission of the Open Policy Network. Model resources may include:  model open policy language (sections and entire open education, research, and data policies); open policy implementation kits with slides and talking points; communications: media / public relations resources, case studies about open policies; research: evaluating existing open policies and writing open policy briefs. The majority of these resources will be targeted for policy making audiences (e.g. legislators, regulators, etc.), but there will also be a subset of meta-materials that provides some advice and recommendations for advocates in how to best work with policymakers around these issues

Annual reports on the “state of open policy” (Consortia of Centrum Cyfrowe, CC South Africa/re:share, Karisma Foundation, SPARC, CommonSphere, AusGOAL)

This project will develop, research, and produce a yearly “state-of-play” report on open policy around the world. The reports will document major open policy adoptions and updates tracked via the Policy Registry, and discuss future areas for intervention. The reports will leverage Open Policy Network members to collect and package an in depth (with useful graphs and analysis) report on the latest updates in open policy around the world covering: education (OER), research (OA), and open data. This report will be a way of measuring nations, provinces/states, and institutions commitments to open policy; and a tool to recruit new open policy advocates and generate interest in governments, foundations, and other funders.

Open Government Partnership (SPARC)

This project will examine the current state of the Open Government Partnership commitments and match member countries with relevant OER projects and individuals in country. Momentum for this idea is already building in a number of countries, including the United States, Slovakia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Sierra Leone, and Romania. The initiative will work to include OER and open policy in updated Open Government Partnership plans through education and outreach.

If you’re interested in having your organization join the Open Policy Network, check out our website, Google Group, and follow us on Twitter.

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Hewlett Foundation extends CC BY policy to all grantees

Timothy Vollmer, September 23rd, 2014

Last week the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced that it is extending its open licensing policy to require that all content (such as reports, videos, white papers) resulting from project grant funds be licensed under the most recent Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. From the Foundation’s blog post: “We’re making this change because we believe that this kind of broad, open, and free sharing of ideas benefits not just the Hewlett Foundation, but also our grantees, and most important, the people their work is intended to help.” The change is explained in more detail on the foundation’s website.

The foundation had a long-standing policy requiring that recipients of its Open Educational Resources grants license the outputs of those grants; this was instrumental in the creation and growth of the OER field, which continues to flourish and spread. Earlier this year, the license requirement was extended to all Education Program grants, and as restated, the policy will now be rolled out to all project-based grants under any foundation program. The policy is straightforward: it requires that content produced pursuant to a grant be made easily available to the public, on the grantee’s website or otherwise, under the CC BY 4.0 license — unless there is some good reason to use a different license.

“When we began thinking about extending the policy from OER grants to the foundation as a whole, we wanted to be sure we would not be creating unforeseen problems,” said Elizabeth Peters, the general counsel of the Hewlett Foundation. “So we first broadened it to cover education grants that were not for OER — and have been pleased to find that there were very few issues, and those few easily resolved. CC BY for all grant-funded works will now be the default, but we are willing to accommodate grantees who have a persuasive reason to take a different path. The ultimate goal of this policy is to make the content we fund more openly available to everyone. We’re only just beginning to implement this change, and will continue to monitor how it’s working, but so far we have found most grantees are ready and willing to apply the license that makes their works fully open for re-use of all kinds.”

In practice, the new policy means that nearly all of the extensive content produced with Hewlett project-based grant funds–not only works specifically commissioned as Open Educational Resources, but scholarly research, multimedia materials, videos, white papers, and more, created by grantees on subjects of critical importance–will be widely available for downstream re-use with only the condition that the creator is attributed. Text will be openly available for translation into foreign languages, and high-quality photographs and videos will be able to be re-used on platforms such as Wikipedia. Releasing grant funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license: this collection grows larger every day as governments and other publicly-facing institutions adopt open policies. Promoting this type of sharing can benefit both the original creator and the foundation, as it enables novel uses in situations not intended by the original grant funding.

For a long time Creative Commons has been interested in promoting open licensing policies within philanthropic grantmaking. We received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to survey the licensing policies of private foundations, and to work toward increasing the free availability of foundation-supported works. We wrote about the progress of the project in March, and we’ve been maintaining a list of foundation IP policies, and a model IP policy.

We urge other foundations and funding bodies to emulate the outstanding leadership demonstrated by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and commit to making open licensing an essential component of their grantmaking strategy.

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California Community Colleges require Creative Commons Attribution for Chancellor’s Office Grants & Contracts

Cable Green, September 9th, 2013

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At today’s meeting of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Board voted unanimously to require open licensing on publicly funded materials resulting from all Chancellor’s Office contracts and grants.

The previous policy for these grants maintained ‘all rights reserved’ copyright over grant materials by the Chancellor’s Office; the exact language (PDF) reading, “The copyright for all materials first produced as a result of this Work for Hire agreement shall belong to the Chancellor’s Office.”

Upon reviewing the existing policy, and discussing the benefits of open licensing for publicly funded materials, the Board of Governors voted to adjust its policy so that any works created under contracts or grants funded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office will be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) license.

The Chancellor’s Office will maintain its copyright over grant and contract funded materials, while enabling wide dissemination, reuse, and adaptation of those materials under the CC BY license. With 72 districts and 112 colleges, the California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in world to now require a CC BY license on its publicly funded grant materials.

According to the press release (PDF),

Using a CC BY license also saves taxpayers money by not funding duplicate work that may only be accessible on the local level. For instance, under the old grant requirements a community college staff may have produced a report under contract from the Chancellor’s Office but was not required to openly license or share that report with other colleges. This made it difficult for other colleges to access and reuse the report, but with the new CC BY requirement, other colleges can both view the report and reuse, share, and improve upon it with updated information and data.

“The Chancellor’s Office already held copyrights to all materials that had been contracted,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris said. “But the great thing about the action taken by the board of governors this afternoon is that those materials will now be available to a world-wide audience. Also, the tax-paying public shouldn’t be required to pay twice or more to access and use educational materials, first via the funding of the research and development of educational resources and then again when they purchase materials like textbooks they helped fund. So, ultimately this decision to change the board’s regulations will save taxpayers money over time. That’s always a good thing.”

Dean Florez, President and CEO of the 20 Million Minds Foundation added:

“These are exciting times as the California Community Colleges takes the lead in advancing higher education. Creative Commons licensing saves families and taxpayers money and the advancement of Open Educational Resources further expands access to materials for faculty members and their students.”

The video of the open policy discussion from the September 9th meeting is embedded below and available here. Learn more at the press release (PDF) and the presentation and analysis of the agenda item (PDF) from the meeting. Creative Commons is thrilled with this recent development and hopes this new policy by the California Community Colleges inspires other college systems to also implement open policies for their grants and contracts.

Thank you, California Community Colleges for ensuring publicly funded educational resources are openly licensed.

Related: California’s Community Colleges Shift to Creative Commons Licenses by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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$500 million available in Wave 2 of U.S. Department of Labor grant program for community colleges

Jane Park, February 27th, 2012

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced and released a Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for Wave 2 of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). Wave 2 makes available $500 million to “eligible institutions of higher education… with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less…”

The full announcement, including the SGA, is available at http://www.doleta.gov/grants/Find_grants.cfm, where you can access it as a pdf. As with the first wave of TAACCCT funding, all educational materials created from grant funds must be released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. For Wave 2, the CC BY license must also be applied to modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds.

The SGA also contains requirements for accessibility (“All online and technology-enabled content and courses developed under this SGA must incorporate the principles of universal design (see http://www.cast.org/udl/)”) and technical standards for digital assets (“All digital assets within online and technology-enabled courses… should be produced to maximize interoperability, exchange and reuse. In addition, all assessments and/or other content that result in a student score or grade must conform to industry-leading e-learning open standards and specifications…”).

As previously mentioned, Creative Commons, along with Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, have been funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide free support to grantees to help them meet these grant requirements. Together, we have formed the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN), to more effectively help grantees. For more information on OPEN and the free services we will be providing, see http://open4us.org. If you are a Wave 1 grantee, you can also sign up directly for our free services there.

The TAACCCT program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. Applications to the solicitation are now open for Wave 2, and are due May 24, 2012.

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