Launched in 2020, The Microgrants and Small Project Support program is designed to support digital security and privacy education and software development through low overhead financial support to organizations and individuals working on projects that support the Calyx Institute's mission. We accept applications for our themed funds subject to certain restrictions detailed in the call for proposal pages. General grants the Sepal Fund are currently by invitation only.
This program has supported the following projects and organizations, organized by fiscal year. A list of currently funded projects can be found here
Fiscal Year 2023
Fiscal Year 2022
The Youth Action Institute, formerly known as the Youth Justice Board, is a public policy research fellowship that supports young New Yorkers in investigating and testing solutions to the issues and policies that affect their lives. Through the grant from Calyx, the Institute conducted a research study with youth to discover what conflicts they encounter online, how they escalated or de-escalated, and what kinds of support and online conflict management techniques they want to have readily available to them. From this study, the fellows generated educational materials for young people to build skills and access appropriate digital conflict resolution tools. All of the resources were disseminated through social media via images, infographics, videos and text posts.
The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider that litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. Funding from Calyx supported S.T.O.P.'s campaign activities focused on “Ban the Scan” which raised awareness of the dangers of facial recognition in New York City, including amplifying media engagement and launching a community education effort to expand their grassroots base and turn the tide of public opinion against facial recognition. This project was funded by our Regional and Local Microgrants Fund.
The Middle East Programme of the Centre for Emerging Futures (Comet-ME) is an Israeli-Palestinian NGO providing off-grid energy and water services to vulnerable Palestinian herding communities. This project entailed designing and building a cellular-based community wireless network in Comet-ME’s energy install base, focusing on digital literacy, digital rights, safety, and privacy. Two facilitators completed workshops in five rural communities. This empowered members of the community, particularly the women, to expand their horizons, learn new things, and communicate more easily with family members beyond and even within the boundaries of their community.
Fiscal Year 2021
Team CommUNITY, a program of ARTICLE 19, offers a variety of in-demand services to the international digital rights community, which is made up of open-source technologists, frontline human rights defenders, and researchers. Calyx Institute support provided interim funding for Team CommUNITY to offer critical programming and training and continue important conversations during a time that individuals are unable to gather at the Internet Freedom Festival because of COVID-19. They launched a VPN Initiative, which focuses on increasing information-sharing between trusted open source and for profit VPN services; this increases more communication between frontline users and trusted VPN providers. They were also successful in designing an online wiki repository, which will contain a host of useful information for both developers and users.
Lucy Parsons Labs (LPL) is a charitable Chicago-based collaboration between data scientists, transparency activists, artists, and technologists that sheds light on the intersection of digital rights and on-the-streets issues. LPL used public records FOIA requests, consulted with local experts, and dug through several pre-existing resources on the study of facial recognition use by local, state, and federal actors, to research and document where fusion centers are using facial recognition technology. Based on the research funded by Calyx, they were able to research and publicize how these technologies are being used.
Library Freedom Project (LFP) is a privacy-focused community of practice for librarians. LFP’s community of librarians worked with their teen patrons to create high-quality privacy resources for young people focused on their unique needs. The goal was to create content on topics they care about, using language and formats they understand - like a meme. After consulting with teen patrons, they developed a total of 54 privacy memes reaching a diverse set of teens; most of which were young people of color. These discussed privacy issues like school surveillance, facial recognition, policing, the broad data-gathering of apps like Uber and Facebook, and the creepiness of online advertising in a way easily digestable to teens. Through these interactions, the participants gained a better understanding of privacy issues. At the conclusion of the project, an exhibition was displayed at the Boston Public Library.
Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) is a non-profit that exists to enable the free transmission of data in the public interest, promote and support journalism, freedom of speech and government and corporate accountability. They engage in outreach, education, advocacy, and other work primarily through our collaborative index of datasets. The Calyx Institute supported infrastructure costs, including hosting, web development, and seeding capabilities for the nearly 50 TB of data in DDoSecret’s archive.
The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider that litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. S.T.O.P. produced two educational reports on the impact of Community Control of Police Surveillance (CCOPS) Legislation. The Community Control of Police Surveillance (CCOPS) is a combined effort by a wide range of nonprofits focused on increasing community oversight of and transparency about privacy-invasive technologies used by government agencies and departments throughout the country. Legislation modeled on the CCOPS initiative has passed in over a dozen towns, cities, and counties. The first report, “New CCOPS on the Beat”, was released in February 2021. It examined the range of statutes that have been enacted to date, creating a framework for evaluating the implementation of specific CCOPS laws in varying jurisdictions. A second report, "Above the Law?" applied this framework to the first round of NYPD privacy and use policies per the POST Act.
SignalBoost was an open-source tool that let activists, journalists, rapid response workers, and everyone else use the encrypted messaging app Signal to send text blasts and receive hotline tips with minimal metadata exposure. It was designed for situations in which organizers needed to spin up secure communications loops quickly for massive groups of strangers. SignalBoost improved the scalability, maintainability, and usability of their tool as part of this grant during a period of rapid growth. Calyx Institute support acted as gateway funding, helping the SignalBoost team focus on the project full-time while pursuing long-term funding. SignalBoost was fiscally-sponsored by Aspiration Tech, received Emmerson Collective Fellowships, and received a $100,000 grant from Mozilla. The project shut down in August 2021.
Fiscal Year 2020
We coordinated with national security reporters to ensure timely coverage of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JOSHUA ADAM SCHULTE trial through the daily procurement of the trial transcripts to assist journalists and reporters in covering the court case of the accused Vault 7 leaker. The Vault 7 leaks were one of the largest leaks of information from the CIA, and understanding what happened and how the U.S. government responded is crucial for the public’s knowledge of the privacy and security vulnerabilities the world’s digital networks face. The transcripts are hosted with other related exhibits and court documents by Alexa O'Brien. Transcripts for the 2022 retrial are hosted on our website here.
MuckRock Foundation’s Hacking History Freedom of Information Act project, which aims to educate the public on the cyber domain, government investigations, and hacktivism by identifying and filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents on hackers, hacking groups, and high profile hacks. With over 500 FOIA requests filed, this project served to inform the public's understanding of the political and legal dimensions of online privacy, digital speech and political organizing, and criminal law relating to cybersecurity through the release and analysis of primary source documents. As of the conclusion of the grant period, the Hacking History project includes 855 requests and continues to grow. The filing of these requests now also has special value — each month, the FBI destroys hundreds of thousands of pages of its files, but a FOIA request delays this destruction and allows them to ensure a public copy is released to be preserved in perpetuity. All of the materials continue to remain available at the Hacking History project page.