This year, the Regional Fund for Digital Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean (FRIDA) will prioritize projects for community networks and initiatives that promote gender equality in technology. Through this call for proposals the program will present US $95,000 in the form awards, grants and scale-ups.

The 2018 FRIDA call for proposals (http://programafrida.net/en/) seeks to support innovation in the LACNIC region. This call will be opening today, 4 April, and applicants will have time until Tuesday 15 May to submit their proposed projects’ executive summaries.

In 2018, FRIDA will offer three US$5,000 awards plus a sponsorship to participate in the 2018 Global Internet Forum (IGF) (http://programafrida.net/en/awards), three US$20,000 grants (http://programafrida.net/en/grants) and a US$20,000 scale-up (http://programafrida.net/en/scale-ups).

With the support of its partners the Internet Society (ISOC) and the International Development Research Centre (IRDC) of Canada, this year LACNIC will focus on projects involving community networks as well as technology and gender. “The digital and gender divides in technology are two of the key regional challenges we are seeking to address with the FRIDA program in 2018,” said Carolina Caeiro, head of this LACNIC initiative.

Since 2004, FRIDA has distributed more than US$1.6 million among more than 125 innovative initiatives and projects from 18 different countries of the region, thus contributing to promote Internet development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Technology and Gender. This year FRIDA will offer two awards, one grant and one scale-up to projects that promote greater gender equality through technology and highlight women’s leadership in the Internet industry. Priority will be given to initiatives that focus on developing digital skills among women and girls, encouraging women’s participation in digital markets and their access to employment in the technology sector, implementing strategies to defend digital rights and increase online security and the inclusion of women and girls, and supporting women’s involvement in the deployment of Internet infrastructure to promote Internet access and adoption.

Community Networks. FRIDA will present an award and two grants to support innovation in business models, regulations, technology and local content development that contribute to the growth of community networks. Organizations working on developing affordable, locally-managed community networks, and deploying creative low-cost solutions to bring connectivity to regions without Internet service may apply for this award.

Terms and Conditions. The application process will be divided into two stages. In the first stage, applicants will have time until 15 May to submit a summary of their project. Only shortlisted projects will move on to the second stage, during which applicants will be required to submit a detailed proposal between 13 and 29 June. As in previous editions, a panel of experienced Latin American and Caribbean professionals will be responsible for selecting the winning projects. The final results will be announced on Monday 6 August on FRIDA’s website and social media.