This section examines the benefits and challenges of a Mozilla F&A alumni network. The following insights rely heavily on interviews with participants, staff, funders, and stakeholders, as well as the program survey.
- 74.4% of survey respondents are still connected in some way with other fellows and awardees.
- 72.6% look for alumni events as part of a potential alumni network.
- 48.4% look for networking or mentorship opportunities as part of a potential alumni network.
- 61.3% would prefer the network be run by Mozilla, and 48.4% prefer it to be alumni-run.
Program staff and alumni are both eager to see a more useful and active F&A alumni network, but agreed that resourcing and staffing are currently major barriers to its success.
- Many former recipients are interested in joining an alumni network, but do not want it to be a heavy lift – some feel like they don’t have time to attend another regular Zoom meeting, or expressed that they wouldn’t go out of their way to participate.
- When speaking about F&A alumni’s role in the broader ecosystem, one staff member shared:
"...I think that the creation of a natural, more organic, ecosystem that serves as a pool, in which everyone swimming in the pool knows that they're swimming in a pool. And sometimes...they'll know that there's more people that might come into the pool. And sometimes maybe you need to...come out of the pool to make room for someone else who wants to take a dip. But at the same time, kind of looking out in case anyone's drowning."
- Some shared concerns about gatekeeping in the network. Should it be available to only former Mozilla fellows and awardees? Will it become exclusive and discriminatory?
- Across former and current staff, the consensus was that the alumni network idea would only succeed if it was properly staffed and resourced, and by doing so, that would show everyone that it is an organizational priority.
- Awardees feel less attached to the informal Mozilla “network,” but program officers find that post-award check-ins can help form more natural bonds with Mozilla.
- Interviewee and Survey respondent ideas:
“Don't think it will be active if there is a heavy lift, significant asks - too many Zoom calls, too many emails - too many online activities. [Knowing] what people are working on is useful.”
“I can't see myself checking, like another online platform or logging into a thing. But I can totally see myself loving like an email listserv or something where people are, like, blasting out information.”
“Always try to involve alumni in onboarding, because they can be way more helpful than staff.”
“People want to meet, to have low pressure conversations about what you're doing, and to have fun together.”
Many interviewees are interested in seeing a F&A projects and people repository. This would be useful for both internal impact tracking and storytelling, but also for recipients and alumni to connect with others based on overlapping interest or needed skills.
There is a desire from funders, participants, and staff, to see a visualization of the network effects of the F&A program – who has been touched and what connections have been forged.