Human Rights Foundation Grants $500,000 To 14 Bitcoin Projects Worldwide

Today, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announced its most recent round of Bitcoin Development Fund grants, according to a press release sent to Bitcoin Magazine. 

$500,000 is being granted across 14 different projects around the world focusing on global education, Lightning Network development, decentralized communications, and providing nonprofits and human rights groups with an easier onramp to “financial freedom tools,” per the release. The main areas of focus for these grants center around Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

This announcement comes only a few months after their last round of grants in December, also donating $500,000 to worldwide Bitcoin projects. While the HRF did not disclose exactly how much money each project is receiving, the following 14 projects are the recipients of today’s round of grants worth $500,000 in total:

USD E-Cash for Bitcoin by Calle, a USD-based Chaumian e-cash system built on the Cashu protocol. This system aims to enable private, affordable, and stable use of USD-denominated credits, all interoperable with the broader Bitcoin Lightning network. USD E-Cash is positioned as an alternative to major stablecoins, in that it does not have any connection to the traditional banking system. The core idea is that activists anywhere can exchange their bitcoin for privacy-protecting dollar-denominated E-Cash, with the trade-off of being custodial. Funding will support the full development of this project.

BTCPay Server, a free, open-source, self-hosted payment solution that enables individuals and businesses to accept Bitcoin payments. BTCPay provides a platform for merchants in difficult political and economic climates to process global payments, manage crowdfunding campaigns, and offers developers opportunities to kickstart their projects on top of Bitcoin. Funding for BTCPay Server will support UI/UX improvements, feature enhancements, contributor rewards, and training programs.

BOB Builders Residency Program, an in-person residency for Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) developers located in Thailand. The new cohort of developers will focus on “Toolings to Reinforce Bitcoin’s Decentralization,” to combat centralizing forces in the software ecosystem. The previous cohort, also supported by HRF, focused on privacy. Funds will be used to support the residents of this second cohort, covering living and travel expenses. 议报中文, a popular news platform led by Citizen Power Initiatives for China, serves Chinese scholars, intellects, and writers abroad. Dedicated to promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the global Chinese-speaking community, Yibao has gained a significant readership, particularly in pro-democracy communities within China. HRF’s grant will support the wages of writers, editors, and translators of the site, as well as social media promotion efforts, as they translate Bitcoin educational materials and news items into Chinese for wide circulation into the world’s biggest dictatorship.

Bitcoin Innovation Hub, a physical space and community center promoting the socioeconomic transformation of refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable communities led by Noble Nyangoma in Kampala, Uganda. The hub offers a range of vocational training and financial literacy to women and men in various fields, where they learn how to use and how to earn Bitcoin, regardless of what kind of ID they hold. Funding will support the addition of vocational classes (ie. digital skills, carpentry, and baking) for thousands of students in the East African region, enabling stateless communities to earn Bitcoin for their work.

BITCOIN DADA, a non-profit initiative founded by Kenyan entrepreneur Lorraine Marcel, aims to empower African women through financial education. BITCOIN DADA provides a safe space for women to learn about Bitcoin as a tool for financial freedom and build up their skill set. Funds will support the expansion across Africa, the creation of multilingual educational resources, and promote women-led businesses adopting Bitcoin. The grants in this round to Bitcoin DADA and to the Bitcoin Innovation Hub are generously supported by Strike’s nonprofit initiative.

The Bitcoin Design Foundation, which supports the Bitcoin Design Community, is dedicated to providing design infrastructure and resources to bitcoin designers and developers, including those building for people living under authoritarian regimes and in developing economies. The funding will support the development of the Bitcoin UI Kit (a resource that help people learn, design, prototype, and build full bitcoin applications) as well as the addition of new and emerging techniques for privacy and self-sovereignty in the Bitcoin Design Guide. Improving the UX of Bitcoin wallets remains one of its top goals.

Bitcoin Op-Tech, a technical Bitcoin newsletter renowned for its industry-leading resources, technologies, and techniques tailored for Bitcoin developers, businesses, and organizations. The newsletter regularly covers issues of privacy, censorship-resistance, and decentralization which are core to HRF’s mission. Additionally, Bitcoin Op-Tech offers workshops, documentation, original research, and case studies. Funds will be allocated towards operational expenses and growth strategies.

Damus Android, a communications application using the nostr protocol. Developed by Will Casarin, Damus ensures free speech online — critical for people living in difficult political environments without being censored — and enables users to receive Bitcoin through its “zapping” functionality. Funding will be used to develop the Damus application for Android devices, helping to potentially onboard millions of new users in authoritarian countries and the developing world.

Bitcoin Core Developer Pablo Martin, whose initial work addressed a vulnerability that caused a Bitcoin node to crash and shut down. Martin continues to contribute, review, and put forth proposals advancing Bitcoin, including the http-rest interface, bitcoin-cli, p2p, rpc, and the wallet within the Bitcoin repository, while also contributing to Bitcoin Core GUI repositories. Funds will support his ongoing contributions to Bitcoin development, the likes of which are crucial to keeping Bitcoin a secure tool for activists everywhere.

LNbits, a multi-user and account system for the Lightning Network, enables users to create separate Lightning wallets for friends and family. Built by software developer Ben Arc, LNbits aims to decentralize custodianship and provides users with a robust suite of Bitcoin tools they can run for themselves, for others, or as part of a stack. Funding will support the core contributors’ salaries, bounties, and educational outreach efforts through workshops and video tutorials.

Bitcoin Policy Summit 2024, a one-day conference bringing together policymakers, academics, and industry leaders to explore the opportunities and challenges of Bitcoin. The event aims to reshape the narrative surrounding Bitcoin, advocate for its benefits in liberal democracies, and highlight its potential to undermine closed societies. Funding will support event logistics, speaker travel, and attendance by human rights advocates.

Bitcoin for Billions, a series of informative videos created by Bitcoin educator, Paco de la India. The videos, initially available in four regional languages — Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati — aim to have a wide audience among the 750 million people in India who speak these languages. Topics include the concept of bitcoin as freedom money and practical guidance on purchasing and self-custodying bitcoin safely, items which are increasingly important under a regime that continues to trend more authoritarian. The grant will be used for research, content creation, translation, and promotion of the videos.

Scalar School, founded by Luciana Ferreira, a Brazil-based Bitcoin and Lightning development program dedicated to training early-stage Bitcoin developers. The school equips students with a comprehensive understanding of Bitcoin development, philosophy, and community engagement, preparing them for future opportunities in esteemed programs such as Chaincode Labs. The grant will go towards teachers’ salaries, training workshops, and university outreach and will give a boost towards developers living in South America.

More about the HRF

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. The HRF continues to raise support for the Bitcoin Development Fund, and applications for support can be submitted here