Tag Archives: MERL Center

Paid opportunities to support the MERL Center

Update, 26 August 2020 – The new deadline to submit an RFP for the websites development is now end of day, Sunday, 13 September 2020. The application for the MERL Center stipends is now closed.

Post by Mala Kumar, GitHub Social impact, Tech for Social Good

Over the past year, some of you may have seen previous posts here on MERL Tech about a new, highly collaborative effort called the “MERL Center.” A joint effort of the GitHub Social Impact, Tech for Social Good (formerly Open Source for Good) program and MERL Tech, the MERL Center is creating case studies, beginner’s guides and more to support practitioners determine if, when and how to use open source software, tools and data as part of MERL solutions. Since launching at the MERL Tech DC conference in September 2019, we have grown to 30+ Working Group members.

We’re now actively recruiting for two PAID opportunities that will help take the MERL Center to the next level, as outlined below!

MERL Center Working Group Stipends 

We are offering 15 stipends of US $500 to MERL Center Working Group members who are willing, able and qualified to commit to set deliverables in support of the MERL Center (for example, supporting with writing on case studies or developing guidance).

Existing Working Group members and new members are welcome to apply. Five stipends are reserved for new professionals with less than three (3) years of experience, including internships. Five stipends are reserved for applicants from low- and middle-income countries. The remaining five stipends are open to anyone. For now, the stipends are a one-time annual payment, though we hope to fund additional stipends next year.

Please note it is NOT required to apply for a stipend to join/continue with the MERL Center as a Working Group member. Email Mala if you wish to get involved without receiving a stipend. Stipends are funded by GitHub and will be distributed through MERL Tech (via Kurante).

Click here to view the stipend requirements

Click here to apply

Website Design for the MERL Center and MERL Tech

MERL Tech and GitHub Social Impact are jointly recruiting for a website designer. Individuals, groups, companies and organizations are encouraged to apply. The contractor will be responsible for:

  • a design refresh of this website – http://merltech.org – in WordPress
  • creating the new MERL Center website using GitHub Pages.

The total budget is US $20,000; competitive bids are encouraged.

[Updated] Click here to view the Request for Proposals

Please note that the successful contractor must be paid through the staffing agency TargetCW, who can hire individuals or organizations/firms based in the US or any of these countries.

For questions about either of the above, please email Mala or Linda. We will answer questions on a rolling basis and post those answers publicly here at merltech.org.

Open Call for MERL Center Working Group Members!

By Mala Kumar, GitHub Social Impact, Open Source for Good

I lead a program on the GitHub Social Impact team called Open Source for Good — detailed in a previous MERL Tech post and (back when mass gatherings in large rooms were routine) at a lightning talk at the MERL Tech DC conference last year.

Before joining GitHub, I spent a decade wandering around the world designing, managing, implementing, and deploying tech for international development (ICT4D) software products. In my career, I found open source in ICT4D tends to be a polarizing topic, and often devoid of specific arguments. To advance conversations on the challenges, barriers, and opportunities of open source for social good, my program at GitHub led a year-long research project and produced a culminating report, which you can download here.

One of the hypotheses I posed at the MERL Tech conference last year, and that our research subsequently confirmed, is that IT departments and ICT4D practitioners in the social sector* have relatively less budgetary decision-making power than their counterparts at corporate IT companies. This makes it hard for IT and ICT4D staff to justify the use of open source in their work.

In the past year, Open Source for Good has solidified its strategy around helping the social sector more effectively engage with open source. To that aim, we started the MERL Center, which brings together open source experts and MERL practitioners to create resources to help medium and large social sector organizations understand if, how, and when to use open source in their MERL solutions.**

With the world heading into unprecedented economic and social change and uncertainty, we’re more committed than ever at GitHub Social Impact to helping the social sector effectively use open source and to build on a digital ecosystem that already exists.

Thanks to our wonderful working group members, the MERL Center has identified its target audiences, fleshed out the goals of the Center, set up a basic content production process, and is working on a few initial contributions to its two working groups: Case Studies and Beginner’s Guides. I’ll announce more details in the coming months, but I am also excited to announce that we’re committing funds to get a MERL Center public-facing website live to properly showcase the materials the MERL Center produces and how open source can support technology-enabled MERL activities and approaches.

As we ramp up, we’re now inviting more people to join the MERL Center working groups! If you are a MERL practitioner with an interest in or knowledge of open source, or you’re an open source expert with an interest in and knowledge of MERL, we’d love to have you! Please feel free to reach out me with a brief introduction to you and your work, and I’ll help you get on-boarded. We’re excited to have you work with us! 

*We define the “social sector” as any organization or company that primarily focuses on social good causes.

**Here’s our working definition of MERL.