Digital Integrity Fellowship Program (DIFP)

Bolstering the digital security of at-risk groups through longer-term support

OTF’s Digital Integrity Fellowship Program (DIFP) supports individuals capable of bolstering the digital security capabilities of at-risk organizations, groups, or communities through longer-term support, seeking to fill a gap left by common, shorter-term digital security trainings. DIFP fellows embed with an organization of their choice - ideally one that is located in the Global South, has experienced internet freedom violations in the past, and whose focus is on journalism, human rights, advocacy, activism, blogging, or a similar field. The scope of a DIFP fellow’s work will likely depend significantly on the organization(s) with which the fellow will be working. Generally, a fellow’s work may include, for example: conducting initial digital security assessments; understanding and documenting the organization’s adversaries as well as connecting the organization’s culture, vision and core purpose with what they need to succeed in the face of their digital threats. Before applying, ideal fellowship candidates should initiative a strategic conversation with the organization(s) and network(s) that they intend to assist and work with during their fellowship. Fellows are also expected to share their findings with the broader internet freedom community. More about the DIFP’s scope and desired criteria can be found on the DIFP fellowship request page.

Important Considerations

DIFP offers fellows a monthly stipend of $5,000 per month for a maximum of 12 months. Fellows are also allotted an “organizational support stipend” of $5,000 USD total to cover equipment and subscription costs that will maintain security protections for organizations receiving digital security assistance from the fellow.

Applicants and the organization(s) with which they plan to work should agree that they are a good match. Indicating that you’ve either worked with the proposed organization(s) in the past or that they’ve endorsed your plan are generally good signs.

Applicants should be specific about the types of threats and vulnerabilities the organization(s) face in their work. Who are the adversaries? What are their capabilities? How can the applicant, as a fellow, help mitigate these threats?

Increasing the knowledge and capacity of locally-based digital security professionals and the organization(s) they work with are good goals. At the end of a DIFP fellowship, the organization(s) with which they’ve worked should have enhanced their digital security practices in a demonstrable, sustainable way.

Avoid one-off trainings or training of trainers as an effort’s primary focus, or projects that might endanger a fellow or the organization’s staff in any way.

When to Apply

We accept applications for the DIFP annually. If you’d like to be notified when the DIFP application window opens, considering signing up for our OTF-announce mailing list.

Review Process

  1. Application Submission and Review: After the deadline for DIFP’s annual application window passes, we review each application received, assigning two OTF team members to individually review it. During this phase, we may reach out to ask some clarifying questions about your application.

  2. Application Determination: Once we’ve had the chance to review your application and ask clarifying questions if needed, we’ll then contact you (along with all DIFP applicants for that round) via email and inform you whether you’ve been invited to submit a full proposal or declined. If we’ve declined your application, we’ll provide you with feedback on why it was not approved.

  3. Proposal Invitation: If you’re invited to submit a full proposal, you’ll have the chance to expand on the idea you presented in your initial application, fleshing out your plan in a more focused, detailed form. We will specify a date by which the full proposal will need to be submitted.

  4. Advisory Council Review: Each DIFP proposal is reviewed by at least two Advisory Council members, as well as two OTF team members. You can see the DIFP’s current Advisory Council members listed on the DIFP request page.

  5. Proposal Determination: Upon successful review by the OTF team and Advisory Council, we will inform you whether your proposal has been accepted or declined. After AC review takes place, we may reach out to ask some clarifying questions about your application.

  6. Legal Review: Approved proposals are reviewed by our executive, legal and financial departments. If you reach this stage, OTF’s Director of Digital Safety will work with you on completing this step.

  7. Contract Issued: Once the contract has been approved, it will be issued to the applicant to sign and return. Note that each contract includes standard provisions for U.S. Government funded agreements. A sample contract can be viewed here.

  8. Project Oversight: Because payment is dispersed at monthly intervals upon completion of stated contractual goals, successful applicants can expect regular contact with both their host organization and OTF’s Director of Digital Safety. Monitoring consists of compulsory monthly reports and also phone, email, or in-person discussions and consultations as needed. Fellows are required to submit brief monthly updates about their work to OTF, their host organization, and the OTF community. This allows others to review and comment on the DIFP community’s work, encouraging collaboration.