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NEW YORK (June 5, 2024) The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce 1 billion satoshis of gifts from its Bitcoin Development Fund. HRF’s latest batch of grants focus on education for people living under authoritarian regimes, privacy and Lightning development, decentralized communications, and providing nonprofits and human rights groups with easier onramps to financial freedom tools. Areas of focus include key countries and regions in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Grants include:

RoboSats, a Tor-only, KYC-free platform enabling the exchange of Bitcoin for national currencies in a peer-to-peer fashion via the Lightning Network. As an open-source and privacy-first project, Robosats is a significant platform for individuals living under authoritarian regimes. Funding will support its ongoing development (including Android app development), enhancing the RoboSats node, and boosting its social media presence.

Bitshala Internship Program, a grassroots, Bitcoin educational initiative from India offering mentorship, resources, and opportunities to aspiring Bitcoin developers. Amid India’s increasing financial repression, Bitcoin development is crucial for helping citizens remain financially free. The program enables students to contribute to vital free and open-source Bitcoin projects such as Bitcoin Core, coin selection, and more. Funding will support these internships and help Bitshala establish a hackerspace and community center in Bangalore inspired by Bitcoin Park and Chaincode Labs.

-Building Bridges to Bitcoin (BBB), an educational initiative in the Middle East and North Africa region by Ideas Beyond Borders (IBB). By providing educational material in Arabic, the project empowers local youth to combat tyranny with Bitcoin, secure their financial autonomy, protect their human rights, and transform their region. Funding will support the translation, publishing of educational resources, and management costs.

Flash, a Nostr-enabled Lightning wallet designed to connect island economies in the Caribbean with Bitcoin. Founded by Dread, Flash aims to provide this historically-underbanked and politically-repressed region with access to global online marketplaces and physical Bitcoin on and off ramps. Funding will support Flash’s development, educational materials, local businesses onboarding, and a Caribbean-wide adoption campaign.

Bitcoin Seoul, a Bitcoin conference in Seoul, Korea, dedicated to broadening the understanding and adoption of Bitcoin. The event will convene industry experts, local policymakers, diverse speakers, and attendees to explore Bitcoin from both general and technical perspectives. Funding will support open-source initiatives as well as help create spaces for North Korean defectors to meet Bitcoin developers to collaborate on human rights work in North Korea.

Margot Paez’s research examining the relationship between Bitcoin mining, human rights, and sovereignty. Her study will explore how Bitcoin mining can reduce corruption and waste in energy systems, and expand power and electricity for people who lack it, given that without electric power, people cannot easily realize civil liberties. She will also examine how certain trends in Bitcoin mining can lead to overall network decentralization, making the software a more censorship-resistant tool for the world’s most vulnerable populations. This funding will help Margot’s graduate research.

Validating Lightning Signer (VLS), an open-source project enhancing the Lightning Network’s security by separating private keys from a Lightning Node. VLS adds an extra layer of protection for Bitcoin users and lowers barriers to running a Lightning node. This enables more users to enforce their own financial autonomy. The allocated funding will be used to hire a full-time Rust developer to fix bugs and address feature requests.

OpenSats, a 501(c)(3) public charity funding free and open-source projects, education, and research. With most OpenSats donations going directly and 100% to open-source contributors, this funding will support OpenSats core operational expenses, and will allow them to scale their operations and grow their team.

The Core, a non-profit Bitcoin educational platform in Kenya founded by Felix Mukungu. The East African initiative aims to increase the financial freedom of Kenyans and others in the wider Great Lakes region through education, entertainment, and engaging content. Funding will support in-person meetups, course creation, salaries, and rewarding students upon course completion.

Terry Yiu, a software engineer working on three Nostr-related projects: the Nostr SDK, helping developers create Nostr-based apps for Apple devices; Comingle, a conference app; and Damus, a decentralized social platform. The grant will support Terry’s continued development of these projects, helping strengthen freedom of speech and censorship-resistant communications for people worldwide. 

Paulo Sacramento, a Bitcoin-focused UX designer and researcher. He is studying the successful adoption of Brazil’s Pix digital payment system to derive lessons for broader Bitcoin adoption, especially for unbanked and underprivileged communities. There are big lessons here when it comes to the choice of citizens between CBDC-like platforms and open-source options like Bitcoin. The grant will help serve as support for the research endeavors carried out over the last two years.

Blockchain Commons, a not-for-profit supporting the continued development of FROST, a next-generation security protocol to improve the resilience and security of private keys. This is a crucial building block for allowing users to control their identities and Bitcoin in a self-sovereign way. For example, FROST can help make “multi-sig” solutions (appealing to human rights activists) much more flexible and robust. Funding will support the organization of two FROST roundtable meetings among members of the FROST ecosystem. 

Summer of Bitcoin, a global internship program enabling university students to contribute to Bitcoin open-source development and design. Students gain valuable experience and potential career opportunities while earning Bitcoin stipends. This grant will support student stipends, mentor compensation, and program operations. This program attracts thousands of applications from more than 50 countries each year, and helps promising individuals from all over, especially from authoritarian regimes, find roles in the Bitcoin community.

HRF is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. Gifts can be made at HRF.org/DevFund, and proposals for support can be submitted to https://hrf.org/bdfapply.

Follow @HRF on X for more updates on this project and all of our other programs designed to promote freedom and human rights around the world.