Accelerating Social Impact with the Chainlink Grants Program

The Chainlink Community Grant Program provides financial resources to the many development teams and researchers building a more functional and accessible Chainlink Network. Beyond making Chainlink a powerful building block for enabling hybrid smart contracts, the Chainlink Community Grant Program is focused on funding social impact initiatives that reduce systemic risk in developed economies and create technological leaps in developing regions. Social impact initiatives are a key part of fulfilling our mission to create an economically fair world, where anyone with an Internet connection can better monetize their resources, rely on the contractual obligations of their counterparties, and gain transparency into the guarantees they actually have when using economic infrastructure.

To accelerate these initiatives, we are expanding the number of resources available through the Chainlink Community Grant Program to projects building hybrid smart contract infrastructure and applications that achieve deep social impact. The goal is to incentivize developers and researchers who want to build tangible blockchain solutions that enhance people’s ability to independently improve their well-being and social-economic status. Below are some of the key initiatives that the grant expansion is targeting.

Supporting Nonprofit Organizations and NGOs

We’re looking to partner with a wider range of nonprofits and NGOs that are focused on building open-source technologies, specifically targeted at solving large-scale social and financial challenges through the use of blockchains, smart contracts, and oracles. These organizations have well-established resource networks that can help broaden the types of markets and geographical regions that hybrid smart contracts can reach.

Chainlink is already engaging with several nonprofits and NGOs through the Community Grant Program. This includes the UNESCO Global Education Coalition, which was awarded a grant to accelerate blockchain education and development around the world. It also involves working with non-profits/NGOs to co-sponsor hackathon prizes for social impact. Chainlink recently partnered with the UNESCO Global Education Coalition to award a social impact prize at the Spring 2021 Virtual Hackathon, which went to Smart Scholarship for Social Impact, a project that uses Chainlink External Adapters to automatically reward students based on verifiable off-chain data about their academic performance.

Funding Startup Programs and Projects

Beyond expanded support for new nonprofits, it’s important to deepen our collaboration with these organizations by working closely with their startups to incubate their early development and help them secure long-term adoption. Grant Program initiatives around this include co-sponsored grants with non-profits, support for startup programs like accelerators and incubators, and ongoing financial support for startups making real progress with increasing social impact.

Our work with startup programs has already fostered results. The UNICEF Innovation Fund received a Chainlink grant to support and mentor projects solving key global challenges through building early-stage, free, and open-source blockchain-enabled software. The grant helped the UNICEF Innovation Fund support its second cohort of investments, some of which include:

  • Rumsan Associates (Nepal) is developing a digital cash and voucher assistance management system using mobile-based blockchain tokens for emergency response and recovery programs.
  • Leaf Global FinTech (Rwanda) is developing a virtual bank for refugees and vulnerable populations, allowing for storage and transfer of assets across borders.
  • KotaniPay (Kenya) is developing a platform for transfers, remittances, savings, withdrawals, loans, and payments and integrating solutions for users to easily interact with crypto.

Encouraging Development of Novel Smart Contract Use Cases

Another key initiative is supporting the development of hybrid smart contracts that both unlock completely new services for users and enhance existing services, bringing them to new regions where they were previously inaccessible. Not only will this help stimulate innovation, but it will showcase the efficiency at which blockchain-based services can be introduced into new markets.

One Chainlink Grant Program initiative already underway is the creation of parametric insurance solutions in emerging markets. Chainlink is collaborating with agricultural microinsurance provider ACRE Africa and decentralized insurance protocol Etherisc to facilitate the development of sustainable and blockchain-based parametric crop insurance solutions that help over 250,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya access affordable insurance policies and offset the effects of climate change.

Another grant recipient was Green World for their development of AIRS—a hybrid smart contract application that uses satellite data to automatically dispense financial rewards to people who successfully regenerate designated areas of land by improving soil health, contributing to greater carbon sequestration, increasing vegetative/tree cover, enhancing hydrology, and other rehabilitation techniques. These rewards are issued to stewards as “regenerative carbon” assets that are tokenized on the blockchain and represent Green World Credits.

Regenerative agriculture smart contracts
Rewarding stewards of regenerative agriculture using Chainlink oracles to connect AIRS hybrid smart contracts with satellite remote sensing data.

Building Out Critical New Data Infrastructure

Hybrid smart contracts are dependent on reliable data feeds to verify the occurrence of real-world events. While data infrastructure has expanded substantially in the last 10 years, specialized datasets for novel use cases are increasingly important. There is also demand for higher-quality data since it’s used to directly automate processes involving exchanges of real economic value.

Some examples of data infrastructure that can support more advanced hybrid smart contracts include open-source satellite data, drones, and IoT devices for measuring carbon levels, reforestation efforts, soil quality, wind speeds, and rainfall. This data is useful for carbon credit marketplaces and regenerative agriculture projects like AIRs, as well as for parametric insurance solutions for crop, disaster, and water level insurance.

Partnering With Web3 Organizations

Chainlink provides core infrastructure within a wider interconnected Web3 ecosystem, allowing us to work closely with other Web3 organizations and initiatives. This includes co-grant opportunities with other Web3 foundations, and continued financial and technical support to hackathons, accelerators, innovation challenges, and more.

Chainlink’s efforts in sponsoring Web3 hackathons have already resulted in numerous submissions that showcase how hybrid smart contracts can achieve social impact. Some examples include:

  • Shrub — a parametric earthquake insurance solution where people can easily purchase protection and get paid out directly using earthquake detection data.
  • FarmerNet — a dynamic NFT solution for creating carbon emission credits based on land aerial footage.
  • Parametric Water Level Insurance — a parametric insurance product where marine cargo transportation systems can protect against rising water levels.
  • Weatherchainxm — an open hardware weather station that automates the execution of parametric weather insurance contracts.

Conducting Social Impact Research

Making large-scale impact is not just about creating great technology, but applying that technology to specific use cases and regions in a manner that’s effective. Achieving this involves taking into account a wide range of factors like technological limitations, financial incentives, political structures, game theory, and more. Funding in-depth research into how hybrid smart contracts can be applied to achieve the maximum benefit to individuals, local communities, and global economies will be critical to widespread adoption and true global impact.

Through the Chainlink Community Grants program, we look forward to continuing to empower more and more Chainlink ecosystem teams and researchers who are both researching and building key tools and infrastructure that accelerate the development of hybrid smart contracts and secure oracle networks. We will continue supporting the community as a key driver of Chainlink’s rapid growth, because only together can we make universally connected smart contracts into the dominant form of digital agreement.

If you want to learn more about the Grant Program, check out our recent blog post that further expands upon its goals and the criteria for submission. We encourage talented individual developers and development teams to apply to the grant program, or if you’re a researcher and want to collaborate, contact us. Chainlink Community Grants are provided in cash and/or LINK.

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