Microgrant Policy and Processes

Micheile Henderson (CC-BY)

Applicant workflow

  1. Requesting a microgrant: Accepted OLS-participants are asked if they need a microgrant as part of OLS registration. To request a microgrant at other times, email microgrants@we-are-ols.org with details of your request.
  2. Agree what items OLS can support and how they’ll be purchased: The OLS organisers will discuss with you via email what items are required. See the recommendations section below. Once your request is agreed with the OLS team via email, they’ll send over a short Civi form to fill out your details, including telling us what you want and how to purchase it (we can reimburse you or purchase it directly and ship it to you). We can also offer money up-front so you can purchse your items in person, if it is easier.
  3. Record your purchase: Once you have filled out the form, OLS organisers will purchase the items on your behalf, or you should go ahead and purchase them yourself if that is the agreed route. OLS organisers will contact you if there are any problems or additional questions (e.g. if the online store doesn’t accept foreign credit cards, if there’s a missing address field or the purchase is out of stock).
  4. If you purchase items yourself and didn’t get the money up-front, there’s a 4th step: Request reimbursement. This is another short form, where you upload your receipt and share your bank account/reimbursement details.

Microgrant recommendations and tips

  • Buy local, buy online - the fastest route to microgrants is to find a link for the item you need online, from a local supplier in the region where you currently are. OLS can arrange to buy it and ship it to you directly. Buying items in the area where you live can help to avoid expensive import taxes and lost post.
  • Offline purchases are fine too - If you prefer or need to buy something local, try to get an estimate of its cost. We’ll usually reimburse you when you provide a receipt, but if this is difficult, please let us know and we’ll discuss options to make it easier.
  • Aim for mid-range quality - Do try to be cost-conscious. We’re unlikely to approve a request for Apple Airbuds when there are other well-reviewed wireless headsets available for much cheaper. You don’t have to go for the cheapest thing on the market - try to choose something that won’t end up being false economy. We’re also happy to go for more ethical items rather than the cheapest option possible.

Personal items this policy covers from acceptance into OLS

These are items to help you participate in online calls with the cohort and your mentor.

  • Mobile data top-ups
  • Broadband provider (Cable, DSL, Satellite)
  • Wireless or wired headsets (try to choose something with a dedicated microphone)
  • Mouse, keyboard, webcam, microphone
  • Diesel for generators
  • Backup batteries in case the power goes out, if the battery can be sourced in your country.
  • Childcare
  • Other items needed? Please discuss with the OLS team.

Items that are usually out of scope:

  • Monitors (unless you don’t have any other screen that is suitable, e.g. perhaps you have a laptop or desktop but your screen is damaged).
  • Lithium batteries can’t usually be shipped internationally, but are fine if you can source one in your country.
  • Buying a whole new computer is usually out of scope, but if you think there’s a compelling reason this is needed let us know.

Project expenses: After week 12 in the Open Seeds program or participation in at least one cohort

  • Organisational set-up costs such as videoconference subscriptions, legal registration of your organisation.
  • Swag items such as stickers, leaflets, etc.


Who can apply for a microgrant?

Microgrants are primarily for participants accepted into an OLS program to ensure they can fully participate. In some cases, we can also support mentors with microgrants to facilitate them supporting their mentees.

How much money can I ask for?

There is no general limit for the size of a microgrant as needs differ and prices for items vary around the world. We try to be fair in our support and have as many people as possible profit from our microgrant programme, so we sometimes might ask you to prioritize your requests.

Can I put in several requests during a cohort?

Yes! If you need a data top-up during the cohort or an item to ensure you can continue to participate, you can send us another request.