Seeking your feedback: Creation of OTF’s Learning Lab

Mon, 2018-08-13 20:54

OTF is sharing a draft Request for Partners (RFP) for public review and comment. We are looking for individuals or firms in support of our new Learning Lab, which will allow OTF to share more of what we learn through our funded projects and fellows by better presenting their outputs, successes, challenges, and lessons learned. If you have any questions or comments, please post them on the discussion thread for this RFP on our online forum, Any and all questions and comments should be posted on the forum; direct emails may not be responded to.

The Learning Lab RFP schedule is as follows:

  • 13-08-2018: DRAFT RFP is published
  • 24-08-2018: Deadline for any posted questions
  • 27-08-2018: RFP is published
  • 07-09-2018: Deadline for applications
  • 21-09-2018: Estimated date for contract issuance

Request for Proposals: Learning Lab

The Open Technology Fund (OTF) is seeking individuals or firms in support of our new Learning Lab, which will allow OTF to share more of what we learn through our funded projects and fellows by better presenting their outputs, successes, challenges, and lessons learned. We expect to accept multiple applications to provide writing and visualization services for OTF-supported projects and fellows. Candidates should specialize in areas including writing, graphic design, data visualization, digital strategy, and/or research.


Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Open Technology Fund (OTF) program is soliciting proposals from professional organizations, agencies or individuals to support the services offered by our new Learning Lab. The OTF program at RFA supports technology-centric projects and research which empower world citizens to have access to modern communication channels which are free from restrictions, and allow them to communicate without fear of repressive censorship or surveillance.

RFA is a private nonprofit District of Columbia corporation, qualified as an organization exempt from federal income taxes under Internal Revenue Code Section 50l(c)(3). RFA was established under the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to broadcast news and information in 13 languages and dialects to listeners in Asia who primarily have access to state-run media. RFA is funded by the U.S. government through an annual federal grant administered by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Learning Lab: Background

Stemming out of recent OTF efforts to be both more open in our funding operations and share more of the knowledge we receive through our work with the Internet freedom community, OTF is creating a community-driven Learning Lab. The Learning Lab will be a transparent means by which OTF and the broader Internet freedom community can better understand the impact of our funding in a way that emphasizes collective learning and knowledge sharing. It will also serve as an online home for the outputs generated by a number of recent OTF’s strategic initiatives.

In practice, this will entail helping OTF projects and fellows share what they have learned and accomplished in the form of post-project or fellowship blog-style write-ups, as well as helping to ensure that projects’ associated outputs are presented in a visually appealing, professional format through graphic design consultation services.

  • Post-project write-ups will be informed by the stated project goals (as established when the project initially applied for OTF funding) and the impact-monitoring efforts projects have conducted over the course of their work. Writers contracted through the Learning Lab will have some access to project proposals, monthly progress reports and will in most cases be able to interview project teams in order to help compose project write-ups.
  • Design professionals contracted through the Learning Lab will work with projects and fellows to transform project outputs into polished products that are visually appealing, readable, and include a detailed outreach strategy that prioritizes key audiences and an appropriate dissemination plan.

OTF goes to great lengths to make our funding as accessible as possible to those with good solutions to the kinds of difficult problems we are most concerned with. This means that many of those who receive OTF funding may, for example, speak English as a second or third language (if at all) or are brilliant technologists who may not be accustomed to explaining their work to non-technical audiences. However, we recognize that it is nonetheless vital that the Internet freedom community be able to openly access the knowledge generated through these projects. To this end, OTF seeks to establish an online home where the projects’ outcomes can be highlighted while remaining accessible to the community and, hopefully, informing future Internet freedom projects.

Scope of Services Requested

OTF seeks individuals or organizations capable of providing one or more of the following services for OTF’s supported projects and fellows, working on Internet freedom-related efforts:

Overall Production Coordination – Coordinate the production of post-project write-ups. – Work closely with OTF team members to track closing projects. – Ensure the quality of finished write-ups, including editorial and stylistic consistency.

Research Writing – Produce post-project write-ups of approximately 1500 words, through review of project proposals, project documentation, and project interviews.

Graphic Design and Visualization – Improve the presentation, appearance, and readability of project and fellow outputs, which may take the form of research paper(s), raw data, websites or other promotional tools, and/or branding elements like logos or campaign materials.

As a result of this RFP, OTF expects to partner with at least one entity capable of providing at least one of the above specializations. Therefore, applicants with expertise in one or more of the above services may apply, but applicants need not have experience with or expertise in all of the services listed above. Collaborative efforts between multiple entities are welcome.

Applicants are welcome to include additional services not listed above, so long as demonstration is provided as to how those additional services will advance the stated goals of OTF’s Learning Lab.

OTF expects to offer a request for service partners on an annual basis, so applicants should be capable of offering services for a minimum of one year from the time of contract issuance.

Miscellaneous Requirements

Organizations or individuals applying should be able to demonstrate the following, as organized by discipline:

For writers

  • A strong background in technical writing, with an emphasis on the ability to write accessible, short-form pieces for online mediums.
  • Some background in qualitative research or monitoring and evaluation practice.
  • Curiosity and an ability to help a diverse set of projects and fellows from around the world tell their story or present the successes and challenges they faced to their peers in an accurate and engaging manner.

For graphic designers

  • A track record of performing graphic design work, especially for projects and/or clients in the Internet freedom community, with an emphasis on the ability to produce reports that are visually appealing and demonstrate cultural and topical awareness.

For all

  • A strong sense of familiarity with and knowledge of the mission-driven ideologies that guide and inspire Internet freedom projects, and the audiences they serve.
  • An understanding of the Internet freedom community demographic, culture, and preferences; previous working experience in the Internet freedom community strongly preferred.

Please note that candidates who are currently or were previously contracted as service providers for a different OTF Lab are eligible to apply to serve as service providers for the Learning Lab, so long as candidates can clearly demonstrate the ability to provide the services distinct to the Learning Lab.


Pricing should be based on either a per unit deliverable fee for write-ups or an hourly billable rate. Acceptable applications must include an estimate of the number of hours of work being provided, by level of person in each phase of the projects and the respective hourly rates for each, and the hourly rate per offered service or detail of services offered and their associated rates.

OTF awards are performance-based contracts signed directly with the applicant. Payment is issued upon completion of work on agreed-upon services as outlined in a contract. OTF reserves the right to award less or more than the funds requested as deemed in the best interest of OTF’s priorities.

Schedule of Activities

Acceptable applicants will offer to provide the requested services within a 12 month contract term.

  • 13-08-2018: DRAFT RFP is published
  • 24-08-2018: Deadline for any posted questions
  • 27-08-2018: RFP is published
  • 07-09-2018: Deadline for applications
  • 21-09-2018: Estimated date for contract issuance

Note, we can and may change these at any time. We’ll update this page and the topic here as changes occur.

Selection Process

Submission and Application Details
Applications must be submitted no later than 23:59 (11:59PM) GMT on the date of deadline stated on the OTF website. We do not accept applications submitted via email, Fax, the U.S. postal system, FedEx, UPS and similar delivery companies, or courier. Only applications submitted through this online form will be considered. Applicants that do not meet any of these requirements may not be considered.

Ideal applicants are making use of, support, or develop open and accessible technologies, have a history of promoting human rights and open societies, and/or help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks. In addition, the following criteria must be met:

  • Individuals of all ages irrespective of nationality, residency, creed, gender, or other factors, with the exception that OTF is not able to support applicants within countries that the United States has trade restrictions or export sanctions as determined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC);
  • Non-profit organization/non-government organization, including U.S.-based NGO, PIO, or foreign NGO;
  • For-profit organization or business in any country;
  • Consortia of multiple people or organizations with one individual or organization designated as the lead applicant;
  • Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably targeting the requested program area, or similarly challenging program environments where OTF reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations;
  • Ideal applicants must not reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.

Pre-selection engagement
While we will not be able to review any applications until after the deadline, we very much encourage and hope to support as much public engagement with potential applicants as possible.

If you have any questions related to this request, you may ask on this thread on OTF’s public forum. We’ll do our best to answer as many questions as possible before the application deadline.

Other Provisions
RFA will make the final determination as to the acceptability of all work products due hereunder.

The vendor shall not issue, or permit to be issued, during the period covered by this contract or at any time thereafter, publicity in any form respecting the work hereunder or the fact of its participation herein, unless such publicity is first approved in writing by RFA.

In the event any portion of the cost of the services provided hereunder includes travel cost reimbursement, the vendor shall obtain advance approval of RFA and all travel expenditures must conform to the Standard Government Travel Regulations in effect on the date of the award.

The vendor hereby agrees that all Work Product produced under the contract will be the sole property of RFA and the fees to be paid to the Vendor are full, fair and adequate compensation for Vendor’s conveyance to RFA of copyrights in all Work Product.

The awarded contract will include RFA’s standard contractual language. The contract will also include the relevant U.S. Government provisions, which are attached as Appendix A.



  1. Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility, and Voluntary Exclusion. The Consultant certifies that neither it nor any of its principals is presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from participation in this Agreement by any U. S. Government department or agency.
  2. USG Funding Agency Nonliability. The USG Funding Agency does not assume liability for any third party claims for damages arising out of this Agreement.
  3. Travel. The Consultant agrees to use U.S. flag carriers to the extent possible for all air travel and transportation arrangements funded by the U. S. Government under this Agreement. The Consultant must abide by the requirements set forth in the Fly America Act of 1974 which is incorporated by reference.
  4. Rights to Invention. Contracts or agreements for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work shall provide for the rights of the Federal Government and the recipient in any resulting invention in accordance with 37 CFR part 401, “Rights to Inventions Made by Nonprofit Organizations and Small Business Vendors Under Government Grants, Contracts, and Cooperative Agreements,” and any implementing regulations issued by the awarding agency.
  5. Equal Employment Opportunity. If the Agreement is to be performed in the U. S. or to be performed with employees recruited in the U. S., the Consultant agrees to comply with Executive Order 11246, entitled “Equal Employment Opportunity,” as amended, and as supplemented in Department of Labor Regulations (41 CFR Part 60).
  6. Nondiscrimination. To the extent such laws apply to the Consultant, the Consultant agrees to abide by U.S. laws in regards to nondiscrimination of U.S. citizens or legal residents working under the Agreement.
  7. Worker’s Compensation. For Agreements which require performance outside the United States, the Consultant agrees to provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance (42 U.S.C. 1651, et seq.). As a general rule, Department of Labor waivers will be obtained for persons employed outside the United States who are not United States citizens or residents provided adequate protection will be given such persons. It is the responsibility of the Consultant to obtain such waivers. The Consultant shall notify RFA of all requests for waivers.
  8. Anti-Lobbying. For Contracts of $100,000 or more, the Contractor certifies that no funds will not be used to lobby, influence or attempt to influence any person or organization in connection with obtaining any Federal contract, grant or any other award covered by 31 USC 1352.