Funding the Commons: Accelerating the Public Goods Funding Ecosystem

Project Name

Funding The Commons (FtC)

Project Description and why it’s classified as a Public Good

Funding the Commons (FtC) originated as an event series aiming to cultivate a public goods community spanning across the spectrum, including Web2, Web3, research, philanthropy, government, and industry. Its primary focus is the fostering of innovative public goods funding mechanisms. By leveraging the FtC community, brand, events, extensive resources from key partners, and a growing builder community, the organization aims to establish a sustainable PGF ecosystem, and shape the discourse around public goods funding. This involves integrating existing public goods funding platforms to build a cohesive infrastructure, allocating resources effectively, and incubating innovative projects.

Our current focus is to bootstrap a virtuous cycle of builders and a community of protocols in creating and integrating public goods funding infrastructure, and leveraging that infrastructure, in addition to the infrastructure of leading PGF protocols, to fund the next wave of builders.

Conferences

Funding the Commons will continue with its flagship offering: curated, thematic conferences leading the discourse in public goods funding, and bridging the gap between web3, web2, academia, and mainstream philanthropy.

We have successfully produced 7 conferences around the world in places such as New York City, Lisbon, Berlin, and Paris, in conjunction with major web3 events. Our speaker roster has included Juan Benet (founder of Protocol Labs), Vitalik Buterin, Jaan Tallinn (founder of Skype, director of Future of Life Institute), and many more.

Videos of presentations from previous conferences can be found on our YouTube channel, which exists as an evergreen educational asset for the global community interested in public goods to access our conference virtually in perpetuity.

Hackathons

Our first Fund Public Goods hackathon, ran in partnership with Buidlbox and completed on 1 September 2023, saw $100k in bounties allocated amongst 400+ competing builders prototyping public goods funding infrastructure on protocols such as Gitcoin, Brave, Celo, Drips, Filecoin Green, ENS, and more. Upon completion of the first Funding the Commons hackathon, we have identified a positive-sum outcome that generates grants for developers, prototypes for public goods funding protocols, and reputational prestige in the builder communities. The winners can be viewed here. Our goal with hackathons is to identify global talent in the public goods builder community, and in this way grow our community of builders.

Residencies

Facilitating collaboration over an extended period of time has led to long conversations, and high levels of collaboration and cross-pollination. A very interesting collaboration between two residency projects has emerged as a good example of this: GainForest and impactMarket are collaborating along with Celo, to prototype “Conservation Basic Income” as a way to solve 2 critical issues – poverty and on the ground data labeling – simultaneously.

We are currently planning a residency and pilot program in in 2024. We are looking at two locations. The first option is Split, Croatia in 2024, in partnership with the municipality and mayor of Split, local conference and hackathon BlockSplit, and Gitcoin. The residency would focus on applying web3 public goods funding infrastructure to real-world public goods funding: engaging the citizens of Split, Croatia to directly participate in allocating a portion of Split’s municipal budget. There is already significant sponsor interest in supporting this residency, as it gives the opportunity for blockchain protocols to prototype real-world non-speculative use cases with potential 6-figure user base growth. The second option is Chiangmai, Thailand.

Main Project Funding Sources

Protocol Labs, Gitcoin, Octant, Celo, Drips, Brave, Near, Optimism retroPGF
Optimism retroPGF application: Optimism Agora
Gitcoin GG19 application: Gitcoin | Explorer

Seeking project-specific funding or funding for general operations

Project-specific funding for:
Next Funding the Commons Residency
Funding the Commons conferences
Builder basic income (BBI)
A defragmented funding and impact evaluation stack

Project Roadmap and Milestones (only for project-specific funding):

Next Funding the Commons Residency

Identify, resource, and amplify early stage projects. Creates an intimate space to create relationships between organizations, builders, and thought leaders. Finish analysis, evaluation, and research of this residency. Create a framework for measuring impact and metrics of future residencies, and implement a PoC. Potential direct benefits to Octant from residency outcomes:
Octant integrated with other aspects of PGF stack
Reputation by association
Pipeline of public goods builders applying for funding on Octant

What is a Funding the Commons Residency (explainer video) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ToX5EbFLE8

Funding the Commons Berlin Residency Recap (summary video) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXrqTm9UBZI

Funding the Commons Conferences in 2024

FtC Taipei 2023 recap video: https://youtu.be/bsEEwIANBWE
Funding the Commons conferences are the premier ecosystem bringing together the web3 public goods funding community, and bridging the gap with web2, academia, institutional philanthropy, non-profits, and the public sector. Funding the Commons has hosted 8 editions around the world, including Lisbon, New York, Bogota, Paris, Berlin, and Taipei. 300+ speakers have presented their work, with over 3000+ combined participants. For the benefit of the general public unable to attend, all presentations are recorded and posted on our YouTube channel.
Academics present new research in public goods funding mechanism design, protocols present their experiments and public goods funding programs, representatives from the public sector and institutional philanthropy share decades of experience in funding real-world public goods, and representatives from web2 share the wisdom gleaned from funding open source for the past 25 years since the advent of the internet. At Funding the Commons, these communities overlap, share information, learn from each other, and form new cross-industry and cross-sector partnerships and projects. Builders meet funders, for new projects, and integrate new research. Major protocols discuss learnings and methodologies with each other, and collaborate on funding public goods together. In this way, new public goods initiatives are catalyzed, and existing initiatives are turbocharged.

  • April 2024: Funding the Commons SF Bay Area. Funding the Commons comes to the Bay Area in April 2024, iterating on our signature format bringing together builders, funders and academics leading innovation in the public goods space. We’re focused this time on two areas of rapid innovation underpinning fundamental infrastructure for navigating the digital-physical commons: AI and Open Web. sThe FtC experience design team is joined by partners to curate programming for each track, which will each take place over a full day.
  • July 2024: Funding the Commons Tokyo, in partnership with DAO Tokyo, Fracton Ventures, and DeSci Tokyo.
  • Q4 2024: Funding the Commons “Road to DevCon” will take place in Southeast Asia preceding DevCon.

Builder Basic Income (BBI) Program

Create Builder Basic Income Fund for our builders who wish to continue working on public goods projects, including those initiated during the Berlin Residency.

The Builder Basic Income Fund is an interface for patrons to support a curated list (a Drips List) for builders. It will also be the first “mini-product” created directly by Funding the Commons which will kickstart the virtuous cycle of builders creating public goods funding infrastructure to fund more builders. Builders will have a curated list of project concepts based on the public goods funding infrastructure stack to choose from. Hypercerts will be awarded to patrons, and a “Based Builder Hyperboard” will be created to display the dynamic contributions of patrons and builders. Builders will publish monthly progress for the Funding the Commons community.

Blog post draft further elaborating the BBI: Medium

Applied Research: Funding and Impact Evaluation Stack

The funding and impact evaluation stack aims to create alignment and convergence on a consolidated defragmented public goods funding stack, which is compatible with Octant V2. +
Two research and development initiatives are planned for 2024: Prototyping a Hypercerts-driven Public Goods Fund, and a new primitive to unify the fragmented public goods funding stack.

By bringing together many projects building on the public goods funding stack, and bringing in representatives leading common infrastructure projects, thought leaders, and facilitating cross pollination and collaboration we have effectively facilitated and encouraged consolidation of public goods funding projects to meet at a schelling point of a public goods funding stack that makes sense at this point in time.

The current public goods funding stack is fragmented and inefficient, with much duplication of data structures, incompatibility of data, duplicate functionality, and incompatibility. Our new initiative to develop a primitive, Ground Zero, will remove fragmentation in the public goods pipeline and create an interoperable Impact funding system which will provide the basis for building impact investment, and markets for public good impact.

GZ will also make it easy to onboard high quality projects, and monitor and evaluate their success in a more efficient, transparent manner while creating transparency.

This will help enable Funding the Commons to attract and fund high quality projects and create incentive alignment between the different participants enabling them to co-ordinate in exponential value creation with in built value signalling, increasing the probability that capital funds productive impact creation.

Product Overview

The primary function of Ground Zero is to:

  1. Create alignment and convergence for a consolidated public goods funding stack.
    By bringing together many projects building on the public goods funding stack, and bringing in representatives leading common infrastructure projects, thought leaders, and facilitating cross pollination and collaboration we have effectively facilitated and encouraged consolidation of public goods funding projects to meet at a schelling point of a public goods funding stack that that aligns
  2. Create a POC that shows what was achieved during the FtC residency which is aligned with a longer term vision of what we believe a public goods funding stack should look like.
  3. Create a standardised way for projects to collaborate, and be funded. This provides a system to reward and acknowledge the high uncertainty, high upside projects that may or may not be captured by other mechanisms (e.g. prospective grants).
    • Seeks to reduce fragmentation in the public goods pipeline and create Interoperable Impact Funding systems

This will enable:

  • Defragmentation
  • Data portability
  • Reduce the cold start problem
  • Enable impact evaluation using standard metrics and apis

Team Information, including backgrounds and roles:

David Casey - Director at Funding the Commons. 2x Founder @ ReSource Protocol, NuMundo, Scout @ Celo, Advisor @ Gane, Values Co, Hyphen.Earth. LinkedIn: David Casey - Funding the Commons | LinkedIn
Beth McCarthy - Experience Design/Events & Marketing at Funding the Commons. Formerly @ Centrifuge, Toucan, Gnosis, Ocean Protocol.
LinkedIn: Beth McCarthy - Funding the Commons | LinkedIn
Anna Medina Perez - HR, Admin, Operations at Funding the Commons. Formerly @ReSource Protocol, HSBC
Joaquin Moreno - Financial Administration at Funding the Commons. Professor of Finance at Universidad ORT Uruguy. Formerly Oikocredit, Quantum Capital, Unilever, ReSource Protocol. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joaquinmorenoa/
James Farrell - Funding Stack and Impact Evaluation at Funding the Commons. Co-founder @ Toucan Protocol. Github: positonic (J△MΞS) · GitHub LinkedIn: James Farrell - Toucan Protocol | LinkedIn

Advisors and Collaborators
Juan Benet - Founder & CEO @ Protocol Labs
Eleftherios Diakomichalis - Co-founder @ Radicle, Drips
Rene Reinsberg - Co-founder @ Celo
Holke Brammer - Director @ Hypercerts Foundation

Social Credibility (development progress, awards, notable GitHub commits, referrals):

Our FtC Residency in Berlin attracted over 200 applicant projects, of which only 40 were selected. Workshops and mentor sessions from the following partners.

  • Molly Mackinlay, Will Scott (Protocol Labs)
  • Daniel Burnett (Ethereum Enterprise Alliance)
  • Nate Gosselin Product Lead of Allo (Gitcoin)
  • Technical Lead of Octant (Golem Foundation)
  • Steve Ellis (Chainlink co-founder)
  • Mark Tyneway (OP Labs co-founder)
  • Rene Reinsberg (Celo co-founder)
  • Jonas (retroPGF lead at Optimism)
  • Jeff Pulver (creator of the public good VoIP)
  • Eleftherios Diakomichalis (Radicle & Drips co-founder)
  • Holke Brammer (Director, Hypercerts)
  • Anirudha Bose (Brave)
  • Arthaud Mesnard (Geometry.xyz)
  • Janine Leger (Zuzalu)

40+ peer to peer workshops and coworking sessions including smart contract development, zero knowledge cryptography, AI integrations, public funding systems, impact evaluation, and economics in developing countries.

250k+ USD estimate of follow up funding to projects as a result of relationships developed during the residency.

Projects worked on during Berlin residency

  • Arbiter - Arbiter is a framework for stateful Ethereum smart-contract simulation.
  • AtMoos: A Free House - The Freehouse is an intelligent and self regulating living object/entity with two demonstrators (Moos and TDF).
  • Common Ground Database - A shared database containing behavior information and due diligence about projects on different grants programs.
  • NineTails - UI Configurator for flashbot bundles.
  • ZK Proof of Exploits - Tool for proving exploits found without revealing them.
  • Privatized Gitcoin Donations - Sean from Aztec working on this.
  • Decentralized Credit Scores in Nigeria/Ghana
  • Impact Market - UBI and Microloans in some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
  • Project JubJub - Experiments with ZK proofs and NFC chips.
  • Split QF - Quadratic Funding system for local municipalities in Split, Croatia.
  • Anonymous Proof of Humanity - via ZK obfuscated government issued IDs.
  • ZK Email Wallet - Provide framework for anyone to send transactions via email, also lets you bring inboxes “on-chain” for all manner of fascinating new use cases.
  • HackerDrop - System for deploying hypercerts.
  • GitCoin Project Scanner - automatically enriches information on GitCoin projects to help identify fraud.
  • FreeHaus Project - Experiment in tokenized ownership of a beautiful communal space in the heart of Berlin.
  • GainForest - Research project and top 6 contender for the 10 million dollar X prize for scalable biodiversity measurement protocol.
  • ChainExplorer - AI chatbot that leverages on and off chain data, allowing for deep dives into reputation and impact.
  • Quadratic Attention - System for signaling user engagement with advertisements.
  • Circuit breakers - Circuit breakers will help projects overcome their security challenges by allowing anyone to easily create robust, production-ready smart contracts with just a few lines of code.
  • Impact evaluation framework - Building an impact evaluation framework for web3
  • FtC: Impact evaluation stack - A POC stack for evaluating the impact of FtC
  • On-chain Representation of Hyperboards - with an associated wallet using ERC6551
  • Unalienating Systems - A study into how to prevent a sense of disconnection or estrangement within communities and individuals
  • RETH contributions - Help reth to become production ready.

Discord contact

Display name: David C
Username: david.nu

Secondary Contact: Beth
Username: ontologymachine

Project Summary

Funding the Commons (FtC) is growing a Public Goods community through conferences, residencies, and hackathons. We help builders explore and develop on existing infrastructure through real-world contexts. Our residency program and conferences help to connect enterprises, governments, and protocols with builders and projects in the web3 space.

In 2024, we will continue to grow the credibility of our brand in the public eye as a center for thought leadership in the public goods funding space. This includes bridging web3, web2, AI, government, institutional philanthropy, and academia.

Eligibility criteria

  • Do you have a commitment to open-source (i.e. every open-source license accepted by the Open-Source Initiative) technology and sharing results publicly?
    Yes

  • Have you provided transparency about how exactly funding will be used?
    In 2024, our planned budget is:

  • $300k for three conferences (San Francisco, Tokyo, Southeast Asia)
  • $300k for staff / operational costs (3 full-time team members, 3 part-time)
  • $100k for a residency
  • $100k research & development grants for public goods funding infrastructure
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Funding the Commons events have been excellent ways for the Tor Project to meet people who are not part of our ‘traditional ecosystem’ but have clear values alignment and are working towards similar things. Some strong relationships have been forged because of these events. Thanks for doing what you do!

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