Round One: Core Grantmaking

The Digital Trust Foundation granted over $6,200,000 in its core phase of grantmaking, which involved a series of RFPs issued in the first half of 2015.

Grant Numbers by Program Area

 Program Area                                                     Number of Grants   Total Amount
1. Privacy Education for Youth 11 $1,290,000
2. Understanding Socioeconomic Status and Online Privacy and Security
 6 $1,793,480
3. Assessing, Preventing, and Addressing Digital Abuse  9 $1,651,000
4. General Funding for Promotion of Online Privacy, Safety, and Security 12 $1,400,000

Grantee List by Program Area Strategy

 Organization Project Description Grant Amount
Strategy 1.1: Implementation and Assessment of Online Privacy Education Programs
Center on Law and Information Policy, Fordham University To recruit and train law student volunteers at Fordham and other schools across the country to educate middle school students about privacy. $120,000 
DPR Educational Services To run an after school program to increase digital literacy among African American and Hispanic elementary and middle school students in Detroit and to train those students to become digital ambassadors. $90,000 
FPF Education and Innovation Foundation To create an online resource and training tools for parents on legal uses of student data, opportunities to correct inaccurate data, and ways to increase privacy controls and protections. $125,000  
Harris County Department of Education To enhance a skill academy focused on preventing problems regarding digital safety and information privacy, and to roll out the program in a large suburban school district. $187,500 
Internet Keep Safe Coalition To expand a suite of cloud-based tools aimed at educating the school community about protecting student data and increasing the privacy resilience of children. $100,000 
Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center To update two components of an online anti-bullying curriculum—one focused on minimizing destructive online behaviors and the other on promoting positive uses of digital technology; the curriculum is available in multiple languages and will be promoted in a youth summit and through a public service announcement contest. $125,524 
Strategy 1.2: Online Privacy Campaigns for Youth 
California State University, Northridge To support a team of undergrads to work with middle school students on developing a social marketing campaign on the use and abuse of online information $193,491 
YTH To create a youth-generated video messaging campaign about online safety and privacy $150,000 
Strategy 1.3: Online Privacy Messaging Best Practices White Paper 
Boston Children’s Hospital, Center on Media and Child Health To draft a white paper evaluating classroom-based strategies to empower youth to protect themselves online $49,763 
University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Human Development To draft a white paper to help guide policies and practices for dealing with the impact of rapid changes in digital technology on children and adolescents $50,000 
University of New Hampshire, Crimes Against Children Research Center To draft a white paper outlining recommendations for using research-supported practices when crafting education and messaging strategies on youth privacy $49,980 
Strategy 2.1: Research into the Privacy Experiences of Low-SES Populations 
Appalachian Center for Resilience Research To investigate the online privacy concerns and security practices in rural Appalachia using a mixed methods approach that includes focus groups, interviews, and a large-scale survey $299,718 
Data & Society Research Institute—danah boyd To conduct qualitative research on the language and framing of privacy issues among low-SES teens and young adults; to convene a conference entitled 2016 Data & Society conference and workshop. $141,421 
Data & Society Research Institute—Karen Levy To conduct qualitative research on three low-wage workplace issues: (1) the impact of agricultural data collection on small farmers; (2) the use of data-intensive scheduling systems in retail; and (3) the use of low-wage labor to train production-process robotic systems $74,976 
Data & Society Research Institute—Mary Madden To conduct a national survey of American adults with an oversample of low-SES respondents aimed at understanding the everyday privacy and security-related behaviors of low-SES adults and seeking to answer key questions that can ground the policy conversations and debates $270,622 
New America To fund a national representative survey and a participatory research project — the Our Data Bodies (ODB) Project — in partnership with grassroots organizations in Charlotte, Detroit, and LA, exploring the nature and experience of digital privacy and “data rights” of adult low-income people in the U.S. $713,090 
Strategy 2.2: Providing Online Privacy and Security Services and Information to Low-SES People 
No grants awarded for this strategy N/A $0
Strategy 2.3: Journalism Fellowship Focused on Socioeconomic Status and Online Privacy and Security 
Center for Investigative Reporting To fund a two-year fellowship for a reporter to investigate the privacy experience of low-SES people and where a differential approach to privacy protections might be needed $300,000 
Strategy 3.1: Understanding Digital Abuse Prevalence 
Data & Society Research Institute – Amanda Lenhart To conduct a nationally representative survey quantifying the prevalence of cyberstalking and digital domestic violence and to provide a better understanding of how abuse is perpetrated and experienced through technology across age groups $403,520 
University of New Hampshire, Crimes Against Children Research Center To analyze data from the Technology-Harassment Victimization Survey to answer four questions regarding cyberbullying: (1) what is its nature and impact for youth with various disabilities; (2) how do victimization rates and characteristics differ across age groups; (3) what is its relationship to suicide ideation; and (4) what role does power imbalance play $106,259 
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire To fund a nationally representative survey of 12-17 year olds to illuminate the prevalence, frequency, and scope of cyberbullying and teen dating violence $188,776 
Strategy 3.2: Understanding Digital Abuse Prevention 
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) To increase implementation of the Student Project Kit—a peer-to-peer tool to educate youth about online safety and digital citizenship issues—including translating the kit into Spanish and evaluating its effectiveness $75,000 
Strategy 3.3: Supporting Digital Abuse Victims 
Hollaback! To provide a platform where victims can safely report their digital abuse and volunteers can provide real-time support $120,000 
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) To fund the Knowledge is Safety project, which provides resources to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking on their legal rights and the applicable laws $195,000 
Net Family News, Inc. To pilot a Social Media Helpline for California schools to help resolve problems students and staff encounter in social media $175,000 
The Brookings Institution To conduct the first systematic study of sextortion cases and prosecutions to date $188,362 
Without My Consent To answer three questions for victims in digital domestic abuse cases: (1) if they can report the abuse to law enforcement and/or sue the perpetrator; (2) if litigation records could appear online, exacerbating their injuries; and (3) if they can sue under a pseudonym $199,810  
Program Area 4: General Funding for Promotion of Online Privacy, Safety, and Security 
ACLU To advance three activities: (1) identifying vulnerabilities in existing technologies; (2) enhancing consumer privacy and security through consumer education and by working with companies on fair defaults; and (3) advocating in front of standards bodies and in administrative proceedings $100,000 
Center for Democracy & Technology To sustain the work of the CDT’s Consumer Privacy Project by supporting new projects on algorithmic fairness and workplace privacy in order to enhance legal protections for consumer data, improve user controls, and promote core privacy principles $200,000 
Center for Digital Democracy To produce a paper summarizing the privacy implications for children of Big Data and targeted marketing and laying the groundwork for a digital privacy framework for youth at different stages of development $50,000 
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester To provide online privacy training workshops for military members pre-deployment and after returning from service—in part addressing their unique risk for identity theft and scammers given their long absences $41,239 
Consumer Federation of America To create educational materials for consumers about how to make mobile payments safely and confidently $125,000 
Electronic Frontier Foundation To support the Digital Privacy Training and Activism project, which educates users about privacy and security settings on various websites, apps, and platforms $100,000 
EPIC To expand EPIC’s Consumer Privacy Project—strengthening its web presence, improving outreach, bringing important privacy matters to the FTC’s attention, supporting the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, educating the media about privacy issues, and remaining an advocate for consumer privacy $100,000 
Family Online Safety Institute To conduct the next stage of a longitudinal study, focusing on parents’ hopes, fears, and actions (e.g., use of parental controls, privacy settings, and reporting mechanisms) regarding their children’s online behaviors $100,000 
National Cyber Security Alliance To engage in a privacy education and awareness initiative through the Stop, Think, Connect campaign, saturating the digital community with research-based messaging that raises awareness, prompts behavior change, and promotes a safer and more trusted Internet $150,000 
New York University, Information Law Institute To study formalistic legal categorizations—e.g., data vs. metadata and content vs. non-content—and provide recommendations for a new paradigm $125,000 
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse To expand PRC’s educational privacy, safety, and security resources, including developing new content, using different formats, and improving the website design $250,000 
US PIRG To evaluate Internet and mobile consumer data tracking systems, measure them against the Code of Fair Information Practices, then educate various stakeholders about threats to privacy posed by these systems $100,000


Grant Numbers by Award Amount

Range  Number   of Grants 
$40,000 – $99,000 8
$100,000 – $199,000 23
$200,000 – $299,000 4
$300,000 – $400,000 1
Over $400,000 2

Geographic Focus

Most of the funded projects tackle privacy, safety, and security issues at a national or general level. However, several grants focus on a particular geographic region, including:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Harris County, Texas
  • Los Angeles, California
  • New York, New York
  • Rochester Metro Area, New York
  • Rural Appalachia
  • The State of California

Population Focus

Some grants focus on the general U.S. population while others home in on specific categories or groups, including:

  • Middle school students
  • Teens and young adults
  • Low-income youth
  • Parents
  • Low-income adults
  • Teachers and school administrators
  • Consumers
  • Workers
  • Low-wage workers
  • Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other digital abuse

Main Grant Activity

It may be useful to get a picture of how many grants focus mainly on conducting pure research, versus developing and disseminating informational resources, versus providing direct services. Classifying the grants in these categories is a bit difficult because the lines among the activities blur. For instance, all of the research grants have a dissemination component (which arguably puts them in the resource development category), most of the grants focused on resource development have a hefty research component, and many of the direct services grants require formal evaluation (which is a type of research). The following is a rough attempt to break down the grants according to their primary activity:

Main Activity Percentage of Grants
Direct Services 16%
Resource Development 50%
Research 34%

Narrative Summary of Grants by Program Area

Program Area 1: Privacy Education for Youth
Number of Grants: 11
Total Amount: $1.3 million

This program area focuses on implementing, assessing, and disseminating educational strategies aimed at increasing the privacy resilience of children and teens and helping children and teens develop skills and resources to protect themselves in the digital environment throughout life.

Six grantees are educating youth around the United States about privacy issues using a variety of program models and curricula. All of these grantees will also evaluate the effectiveness of their approach to privacy education, contributing to the field’s evidence base. Two grantees are creating and implementing privacy education campaigns, also aimed at youth. Three highly-respected research groups are developing white papers and educational materials on the most effective messages to promote online privacy to youth. These papers will provide privacy educators and curriculum developers with more guidance on what works to increase knowledge and privacy protective practices among youth.

Program Area 2: Understanding Socioeconomic Status and Online Privacy and Security
Number of Grants: 6
Total Amount: $1.7 million

The Foundation found that in recent years, there has been little inquiry into how people living in poverty or individuals marginalized by low socioeconomic status experience privacy. Scholars and advocates have expressed concerns that the poor may be subjected to greater government and private-sector surveillance by virtue of participation in social service programs, the dynamics of low-wage workplaces, and the reality of policing in poorer neighborhoods. The Foundation is funding investigation into the privacy experiences of people of low socioeconomic status.

Two grants are supporting national studies of digital privacy behaviors and needs of low-socioeconomic status (low-SES) people, including a participatory research project designed and implemented in collaboration with community-based organizations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; and Los Angeles, California. A third grant involves a study of privacy concerns and security practices of low-SES people in rural Appalachia, an area that has been under-studied when it comes to technology use. Another funded project is examining how low-SES young adults talk about privacy, to contribute to the field’s understanding of how to communicate about privacy in a culturally-relevant way. A fifth grant is supporting research into how data collection and use affects low-wage workers in three industries: agriculture, retail, and manufacturing. Finally, the Foundation made a grant to an innovative investigative journalism media organization, which is hosting a two-year reporting fellowship focused on the privacy experiences of low-socioeconomic status people and communities in the United States.

Program Area 3: Assessing, Preventing, and Addressing Digital Abuse
Number of Grants: 9
Total Amount: $1.6 million

Digital abuse can take many forms, including harassment, trolling, bullying, revenge porn, and sextortion. Although some legal and technical remedies exist, they may not reach far enough, particularly given the cost of litigation for victims. The Foundation is funding research projects on digital abuse and organizations providing direct services to victims.

Three Program Area 3 grants are going toward digital abuse prevalence research, including a nationally-representative survey of youths’ and adults’ experiences with cyberstalking and digital domestic violence. Two projects are addressing digital abuse in the school environment: one helping students prevent digital abuse and the other helping schools respond to digital abuse. One grantee will release an online platform for digital abuse victims seeking support. Finally, three grantees will focus on how laws and the legal system protect digital abuse victims.

Program Area 4: General Funding for Promotion of Online Privacy, Safety, and Security
Number of Grants: 12
Total Amount: $1.4 million

The Beacon settlement agreement directs the Foundation “to fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security.” The Foundation invited proposals to continue or expand existing projects that fit within the settlement’s broad mandate.

The Program Area 4 grants cover a range of activities, including developing consumer education materials on topics such as mobile payment security, big data, identity theft, and how to use privacy settings on various computing platforms; creating privacy protection guidance and best practices for industry; researching parenting in the digital age, youth-targeted marketing, and the legal distinction between data and metadata; and building the capacity of grantee organizations to be more effective by hiring staff, modernizing websites, and participating in national and international discussions about online privacy, safety, and security.


Round Two: Supplemental Grantmaking

The Digital Trust Foundation was charged to disburse $6,700,000 to support efforts in privacy and online safety.  As of August 2016, we had granted over $6,200,000 of this money and had a small percentage left. At that point, the board voted unanimously to divide $300,000 of the remaining funds evenly among 12 existing grantees working on privacy and online safety. This decision was based upon performance in executing an existing DTF grant, quality of work, and established reputation in the privacy/security area.

ACLU 25,000.00
Center for Democracy & Technology 25,000.00
Center for Digital Democracy 25,000.00
Consumer Federation of America 25,000.00
Electronic Frontier Foundation 25,000.00
EPIC 25,000.00
Family Online Safety Institute 25,000.00
National Cyber Security Alliance 25,000.00
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse 25,000.00
Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) 25,000.00
FPF Education and Innovation Foundation 25,000.00
Without My Consent 25,000.00