These 13 grantees — all Mozilla fellowship and award alumni — will fuel online privacy, trustworthy AI, and more

(TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2024) — Mozilla is collaborating with its fellowships and awards alumni on a slate of new projects, panels, curricula, and gatherings.

Today, Mozilla is announcing its first-ever Alumni Connection Grant finalists. The Alumni Connection Grants were introduced in 2023 to explore how alumni can nurture relationships with each other, connect as a network, collaborate, and share their impactful work with the world. Grants for this inaugural cohort total $175,000 USD with awards ranging from $6,000 to $15,000.

Says Hailey Froese, Mozilla Program Officer for Alumni Engagement: “Supporting and sustaining an alumni network enables a whole greater than the sum of its parts. This network can build collective power via relationships, infrastructure, and strategic pathways — collective power that then pushes the internet and AI in a better direction.”

This network can build collective power via relationships, infrastructure, and strategic pathways — collective power that then pushes the internet and AI in a better direction.

Hailey Froese, Mozilla Program Officer for Alumni Engagement

The Finalists:

Jihyun Kim, Gabor Csapo, Miha Klasinc, and Alia ElKattan; Singapore, Sweden, U.S.| Creative Media Awardee, 2018

Kim, Csapo, Klasinc, and ElKattan are creating a five-year retrospective and update for the 2019 Mozilla Creative Media Awards project Survival of the Best Fit, an online educational game about algorithmic bias. The project will 1) produce an impact assessment and provide lessons learned for similar civic education projects; 2) revisit the website to ensure it provides more relevant resources and language to adapt to more timely conversations on AI bias (e.g., LLMs); and 3) allow the group to connect once again and explore potential next steps and further collaborations with an in person meeting — the first time this group has been together since the project release in 2019.

Lorena Lucas Regattieri, Brazil | Senior Fellow, Trustworthy AI, 2022

This project will support funding for "MARGEM: the Amazonian Convening of Communication, Culture, and Technologies," which aims to bridge the gap between Amazônia's rich socio-biodiversity and the evolving global technological landscape. The project will foster trustworthy AI that aligns with Amazonian community needs and traditions by supporting a two-day event of workshops, discussions and activities. These sessions will emphasize meaningful connectivity, open data, cartography, and AI systems for sovereignty, culminating in the release of a policy brief co-created with CPA (Grassroots Communication Center/Centro Popular de Comunicação e Audiovisual) and eco-media, a project from Regattieri.

Petra Molnar, Canada | Open Web Fellow, 2019

This project will convene interested Mozilla alumni and community members for direct conversation with inaugural refugee fellows at the Migration and Technology Monitor to foster connections and idea exchanges from the ground up on border technologies that impact every aspect of migration. This will facilitate an opportunity for people with lived experiences of migration to lead accessible and public-facing conversations interrogating both the negative impacts of technology as well as the creative solutions that innovation can bring to the complex stories of human movement. The learning circle will be followed up by a brief public facing report and a media piece for broader connections and reach. As a Mozilla Fellow, Molnar published the Technological Testing Grounds report.

Fieke Jansen, the Netherlands | Tech Policy Fellow, 2019

This project is a series of dialogues about Sustainable and Equitable Internet Infrastructure. Jansen will curate three structured conversations with experts — from community leaders, climate justice and digital rights advocates, public interest technologists, and members of the Mozilla network — to talk about infrastructural imaginaries that center people and planet over profit and capital. In particular, these conversations will look at issues around the environmental impact of the internet, how to understand the design choices, social practices, and how different forms of stewardship and governance of this infrastructure can yield positive outcomes. They will also identify policy opportunities in Brazil, the EU and beyond for fostering more sustainable and equitable internet infrastructures.

Brian Obilo, Kenya | Tech+Society Fellow, 2020

This project will create a Digital Security Champions Training Program for East African Civil Society Organizations. The majority of social organizations in this region lack dedicated digital security experts on their teams. Obilo, along with Mozilla Open Leader alumni Laura Tich, will collaborate with IT professionals and tech-savvy individuals within these organizations, providing them with hands-on skills, knowledge, and tools to become effective Digital Security champions. They are rooting this project in Open Leadership Principles and the perspective that the resources and expertise they and others have are best used when leveraged for the benefit of the broader community.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, A.C., Mexico | Tech+Society Fellow host organization, 2020

This project is a second phase of development of the “No somos expedientes” platform, first developed by Centro Prodh during the Tech and Society Fellowship. The platform aims to put technology at the service of relatives searching for their disappeared loved ones in Mexico who are looking to access justice and truth. Feedback on the highly successful platform has highlighted a need for additional tools to facilitate the follow-up of forensic identification. Furthermore, Centro Prodh will improve access and usability of the platform in order to bridge the digital divide among its users. This project will support the introduction of these new features, as well as a workshop with representatives from groups of relatives of disappeared persons — “colectivos” — from various states in Mexico which will focus on sharing with the colectivos how to effectively use the contents of nosomosexpedientes.mx.

Freddy Martinez, U.S. | Open Web Fellow, 2017

The Chicago Public Schools system provides vast amounts of data to the city police department and collaborates closely with them to monitor and discipline students. This project will expose and describe many of these forms of surveillance that students in Chicago schools experience by creating an interactive, narrative-driven timeline of a student’s day within the public education system. The project will center student- and community-produced research to collect, organize, and make accessible information.

Genel Ambrose, U.S. | Creative Media Awardee, 2022

This project will continue the evolution and development of TRUTH Portal, an interactive web platform created by Ambrose that collects and transmits visual and audio-based stories of Black women, by Black women. These stories spotlight the systemic bias embedded in AI-powered systems and cultivate an accurate digital collection of what it means to be a Black woman that can be used as data sets to train AI assistants on how to respond better to queries like, “Tell me about Black women.” The functionality of the platform will be expanded, SEO functionality improved, and a community messaging board developed to drive engagement and build authentic community around the project.

Julia Lowndes, Daniela Saderi, U.S. | Open Science Fellow, 2018

This will be a collaboration between Openscapes and PREreview, which are both leaders in the open science world of open data science and open peer review. This project will support the Openscapes Pathways to Open Science program for Black environmental and marine science researchers. This is an ongoing collaboration with Black in Marine Science (BIMS) and Black Women in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Science (BWEEMS). This second year will reuse and build on the previous structure (six virtual 1.5-hour calls), teamwork, and momentum: the 2023 kick-off call had 80 Black researchers participating as undergraduates and alumni from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). PREreview team member Dr. Antoinette Foster will also be supported as a collaborator, and will develop and lead a lesson about antiracist peer review for this audience. This proposal builds on previous work and trust by and between Openscapes and PREreview, and will support open science and antiracist work plus early career Black environmental science researchers.

Phillip G. Eaglin, U.S. | Gigabit Community Fund Awardee, 2017

This project supports and facilitates critical project activities for the Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) Black Affinity Group Members and alumni of Mozilla Fellowship or Awards programs within the framework of the Changing Expectations Closing the AI Education Gap Initiative. It will enhance the collaboration, knowledge sharing, and understanding of trustworthy AI among CSTA Black Affinity Group Members and Mozilla alumni, contributing to the wider mission of promoting ethical AI practices. It will do this by building a network of Educators and Alumni passionate about AI education and facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing, and ongoing communication, promoting a sense of community.

Phi, Mexico | Open Web Fellow, 2018

This project will support Chequea.la: Helpline for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Latin America, which is specifically designed to address web-related incidents and exclusively targeted at human rights defenders and journalists in Latin America. It will provide vital support to those facing online threats in the region, enabling them to continue their crucial work in defending truth and justice. A team will build the assistance platform and manage the helpline, as well as collaborate with other initiatives in the region to strengthen the network of organizations and individuals working to protect freedom of speech and human rights. The project will bring together a community to share experiences, insights, and support, fostering connections among individuals with common goals.

Russel Hlongwane, Amy Louise Wilson, and Francois Knoetze, South Africa | Creative Media Awardee, 2022

Dzata: The Institute of Technological Consciousness is an artistic research project and 2022 Mozilla Creative Media Award recipient. It explores and imagines vernacular technological practices operating across the African continent. This experimental work takes the form of a video and text which arose from archival research, workshops and speculative imagining and was overseen by one of the foremost scholars in the field of African technopolitics, Prof. Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga (MIT), and curator and thinker Oulimata Gueye. This project will support a three-city screening and public engagement mini-tour in order to be able to share this work — for the first time — in South Africa’s three major cities (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban). These three locations will be a series of 'mobile laboratories' in collaboration with cutting-edge South African cultural spaces, aiming to establish experimental sites and spaces for future knowledge generation.

Annabel Church and Kavya Sukumar, Germany | Open News Fellow, 2013

This project will develop a prototype program to support mid/senior women, and non-binary people who are returning to tech or who are struggling to stay in tech. This is needed as diversity in tech has reached a new crisis during the pandemic as layoffs disproportionately affected women and non-binary people. Activities will include surveying Mozilla alumni to assess issues faced within the network, holding workshop sessions to reflect on issues faced and program possibilities, designing and prototyping a program, and exploring what mentorship in this area could look like and how it could be facilitated with Mozilla alumni.