Category: UNICEF

This category covers my contributions, interests, and experiences with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF. This includes Open Source endeavors at the UNICEF Office of Innovation, the Ventures Team, the UNICEF Innovation Fund, the Digital Public Goods Alliance, Giga Connect, and more.

UNICEF Office of Global Innovation

2020/2021 in Open Source at UNICEF Innovation Fund

Open Source is a means to collaborate and solve common problems; during the COVID-19 pandemic, open data and tools proved useful in quickly tailoring and deploying life-saving services. How has the UNICEF Innovation Fund kept up with latest Open Source innovations?

The UNICEF Innovation Fund invests exclusively in Open Source technology – with today’s rapidly evolving innovation landscape, Open Source software, hardware, data, and content not only create value and generate revenue, but also ensure greater collaboration and impact. This reflection is a look back at Open Source activity and participation stemming from the UNICEF Ventures Team from June 2020 to date (July 2021).

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the evolving and forward-thinking approach to Open Source taken by the UNICEF Office of Innovation.

This article looks at a few aspects of Open Source engagement at the Innovation Fund:

  1. Support models
    1. Legal & policy
    2. Building and leveraging from the community
  2. Case study: Cloudline and upstream engagement
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Introducing UNICEF Open Source Mentorship

This post was co-published on the UNICEF Innovation Fund blog.

2020 saw the launch of a formalized Open Source Mentorship programme for the UNICEF Innovation Fund, built up on two years of work from RIT LibreCorps expertise and consulting.

The Open Source Mentorship programme includes five modules about Open Source intellectual property and communities delivered across twelve months. UNICEF grantees are matched with an experienced Open Source Mentor to guide them through the modules. The mentorship takes an interactive, guided approach to understanding the unique context that each team and product exist within. The assigned Open Source Mentor provides specialized advice and training:

  • Tailored feedback based on business models
  • Existing local user communities
  • Best practices for collaborating together with others on similar challenges.

The geographic diversity in the UNICEF Open Source Mentorship programme is unusual for technology incubators or accelerator programs. All funded projects come from UNICEF programme countries. The UNICEF Innovation Fund provides equity-free funding for Open Source solutions from local innovators and entrepreneurs solving local problems. To date, the Innovation Fund has invested in teams from over 57 countries. Argentina, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, and Rwanda represent the most recent incoming cohort in July 2021.

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How Mozilla Open Source Archetypes influence UNICEF Open Source Mentorship

In May 2018, Mozilla and Open Tech Strategies released a 40-page report titled, “Open Source Archetypes“. This blog post is a recap of how this report influences the Open Source Mentorship programme I lead at the UNICEF Innovation Fund.

I joined the UNICEF Innovation team in June 2020, although this is not the first time I have worked with UNICEF Innovation. I have had some opportunity to write about Open Source, but my personal blog has been quiet! So, this felt like the right opportunity to talk about what I am up to these days.

The Open Source Archetypes report (below) provides nine archetypes common among Open Source projects and communities. These archetypes provide a common language and perspective to think about how to capture the most value of Open Source in various contexts.

This article covers the following topics:

  1. How Open Source Archetypes align with my experience
  2. How I use Open Source Archetypes at UNICEF
  3. Unanswered questions
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Keep your open source project organized with GitHub project boards

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


Managing an open source project is challenging work. The challenge grows as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span across multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with organized development focus.

At the UNICEF Office of Innovation, we use GitHub projects boards to organize development on the MagicBox project. MagicBox is a full-stack application to serve and visualize data for decision-making in humanitarian crises and emergencies. The project spans multiple GitHub repositories and works with multiple developers. With GitHub project boards, we organized our work across multiple repositories to better understand development focus and team bandwidth.

Here’s three tips from the UNICEF Office of Innovation on how to organize your open source GitHub projects with the built-in project boards on GitHub.

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Humanitarian open source work: My internship at UNICEF

In December, I received the happy news of an offer for a internship position at UNICEF in the Office of Innovation. The Office of Innovation drives rapid technological innovation by rapid prototyping of new ideas and building full-stack products to make a positive impact in the lives of children. This is a simple answer, but a more detailed description is on our website.

My internship at UNICEF is unique: I support open source community engagement and research as my primary task for the MagicBox project. For years, I’ve done this in open source communities in my free time (namely SpigotMC and Fedora), but never in a professional role. As I navigate my way through this exciting opportunity, I plan to document some of the experience as I go through blogging. My intent is that my observations and notes will be useful to someone else in the humanitarian open source space (or maybe to a future me).

But first, what does “open source community engagement and research” really mean?

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