Open Internet for Democracy Leaders Program 2022-2023 |  Worldwide 

Deadline: 8 July 2022.

Open Internet for Democracy Leaders Program 2022-2023 |  Worldwide 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022-2023 cohort of the Open Internet for Democracy Leaders program. The Open Internet for Democracy Leaders Program, a partnership between the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), is a year-long non-residential leadership program that empowers emerging leaders from around the world to strengthen their advocacy and organizing skills in order to protect internet freedom.

The free flow of ideas has always been essential to democracy. In the modern era, this means a free, open internet where all citizens can freely express, share, and debate their ideas. Open internet access for all is required to strengthen democratic engagement and governance, enable equal participation in the market economy, and promote social accountability.

The Open Internet for Democracy Leaders are a distinct group of global advocates from civic organizations, the media, and the private sector who are committed to preserving and promoting an open internet.


The program’s goals are as follows:

  • Empower emerging open internet advocates to advance internet policy discussions and organize for change in their country and/or region.
  • Strengthen the Open Internet for Democracy Community by connecting emerging open internet advocates with their global peers.

The Open Internet for Democracy Initiative seeks to adapt and strengthen digital rights advocacy tactics this year in the face of rapid digital policy change. The Leaders Program is looking for advocates from diverse stakeholder groups (media, civil society, the technical community, and the business sector) who are defending digital democracy by pushing back against harmful legislation impacting the digital space in their countries and regions. Leaders will connect and collaborate with peers and mentors around the world to discuss how they are grappling with these rapid policy challenges.


  • Create a joint policy paper on ways to strengthen digital governance 
    • Together, the cohort will collaborate on a joint policy paper to produce recommendations and case studies that identify opportunities and threats around a specific policy trend with significant impact on an open, and democratic online space.
    • The cohort will select the topic during a four day in-person project design sprint (anticipated to take place in late January 2023, location TBD). The policy paper will be further developed and finalized through on-going virtual engagement with the cohort throughout the remainder of the Leaders program.
  • Conduct national or regional advocacy to strengthen digital governance
    • Individually, Leaders will be responsible for organizing a local or regional activity with diverse stakeholders (e.g. civil society, independent media, and local business) to disseminate the findings from the policy paper produced as a cohort (see first bullet point). Some examples of possible advocacy activities include:
      • An advocacy campaign to raise awareness among policymakers about the pitfalls of policies that would contribute to the spread of digital authoritarianism.
      • Training modules or videos that explain the implications of digital authoritarianism for civil society, media, and/or the private sector.
      • A multi-stakeholder workshop or roundtable discussion (with civil society, media, and/or the private sector) to discuss a proposed government action that threatens digital rights.
      • A clear strategy for engaging local and regional open internet advocates and groups to collaborate on future efforts.
  • Communications and Outreach
  • Community Collaboration & Thought Leadership
    • Participate at the 2022 Internet Governance Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (virtually or in-person – TBD)
    • Contribute to knowledge and awareness of the Open Internet for Democracy Community about local/regional/national threats to an open internet through participation in relevant events and ongoing information sharing.

Criteria for selection

  • Demonstrated interest or experience working on digital rights and open internet issues, with preference given to those focused on media, local private sector/business, or civic/political participation
  • Experience in one or more of the following areas: policy, activism, research, or technical expertise
  • Strong writing skills
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision in collaboration with colleagues across different time zones
  • Strong organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills
  • Fluency in written and spoken English
  • Demonstrated public speaking experience speaking a plus
  • Ability to travel to at least one international conference (location TBD; costs covered; In-person participation in such events is contingent on health considerations related to the COVID-19 pandemic) a plus
  • Access to reliable internet connection that will enable participation in video or virtual workshops or conferences
  • Ability to actively participate in regular check-in calls with program organizers and in virtual orientation sessions
  • Applicants must live and work in an OECD-DAC eligible country.

Benefits & Stipends for the Open Internet for Democracy Leaders Program 2022-2023

Selected applicants will be welcomed into a community of like-minded advocates, where they will be able to learn from one another and share their work. The Open Internet Leaders program will include the following activities:

  • Receive an honorarium of $2000 USD for completing their required activities
  • Learn from leaders in the digital rights and advocacy community during presentations and workshops
  • Access mentorship and soft skills training opportunities
  • Connect with cohort of Leaders during an in-person project design sprint*
  • Participate as Open Internet for Democracy representatives at international conferences such as the Internet Governance Forum* and RightsCon


For more information, visit here.