Greater Internet Freedom

Funded by: Internews, USAID-DRLDate Range: 2020 - 2023Project Lead: College of EngineeringNotre Dame Collaborators: Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Pulte InstituteContact: Tom Purekal

The Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) project was a three-year, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored global program that centered on coalitions of regional and local organizations at the forefront of the fight to preserve an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet. Through this, the program also aimed to protect the citizens, civic actors, journalists, and human rights defenders who relied on it to realize fundamental freedoms. Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) was a USAID- funded Activity. The GIF program extended digital rights and freedoms in 38 countries by implementing activities under two main objectives, one focused on digital security and the other on digital rights.

Internews led the GIF consortium, which consisted of USAID-approved sub-recipients including the University of Notre Dame (UND). The GIF project sought to accomplish this goal through two objectives:

  • Enhanced digital safety for civil society and media.
  • Increased citizen engagement in Internet governance.

GIF sought to achieve the GIF program objectives by:

  • Centering country and regionally-based partners in program design and activities, and supporting them in driving IF goals in their regions. GIF’s approach is a regionally-owned process that will support locally designed and led activities through subgrants to 1) Regional Partners (RPs); 2) Local Partners (LPs); and 3) international non-governmental organization (INGO) technical experts to transfer specialized skills disproportionately held at the global level;
  • Uniting digital safety and digital rights communities and concepts at the local, regional, and global levels through consistent knowledge exchange and joint strategy development to address Internet governance, enabling environments, digital safety solutions, and cybersecurity threats;
  • Galvanizing inclusion of a broader, non-traditional range of stakeholders—including marginalized communities and youth—in IF activities, and embedding IF objectives into wider human rights-focused and sustainable development goals through convenings, trainings, strategic advocacy, and multi-stakeholder processes;
  • Localizing existing, successful global models for increasing private sector engagement (PSE) while supporting local and regional partners to pilot and expand innovations to PSE; and
  • Supporting the entire IF community with stronger tools for measuring effectiveness and impact, as well as documenting and sharing insights into successful interventions and models.

The Pulte Institute led the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) activities. The purpose of MEL within the larger program context was to use the MEL information to provide feedback to the program in an adaptive scheme, and share the progress and learning generated with GIF sub-awardees, USAID operating units, governmental and other partners, and the affected communities in general.

GIF developed and administered its MEL system according to a set of organizational principles employed by the Evidence and Learning Division of the Pulte Institute for Global Development.  Regional partners have ownership of the MEL approach and activities within their regions. Creating a network-based approach is the key to GIF success, and in doing so, the GIF team prioritizee the need for regional variation and capability in GIF MEL processes including prioritizing Collaboration, Learning and Adaptation (CLA) approaches. 

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