2015 YIR: Laying a Foundation for Growing Outreachy

by Marina Zhurakhinskaya on December 31, 2015

[ This blog post is the fifth in our series, Conservancy 2015: Year in Review. ]

Marina Zhurakhinskaya, one of the coordinators of Conservancy's Outreachy program, writes about all the exciting things that happened in Outreachy's first year in its new home at Conservancy.

2015 was a year of transition and expansion for Outreachy, which was only possible with the fiscal and legal support Conservancy provided us. Becoming a Conservancy Supporter will ensure the future in which more free software success stories like Outreachy's are possible.

Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free software get involved through paid, mentored, remote internships with a variety of free software projects. After successfully growing as the GNOME Foundation project for four years, Outreachy needed a new home which could support its further growth, be designed to work with a multitude of free software projects, and provide extensive accounting services. With the current participation numbers of about 35 interns and 15 sponsoring organizations a round, and two rounds a year, Outreachy requires processing about 210 intern payments and 30 sponsor invoices a year. Additionally, Outreachy requires processing travel reimbursements, preparing tax documents, and providing letters of participation for some interns. Legal entity hosting Outreachy needs to enter into participation agreements with interns and mentors, as well as into custom sponsorship agreements with some sponsors.

In February, Outreachy announced its transition to Conservancy and adopted its current name. The alternative of creating its own non-profit was prohibitive because of the overhead and time commitment that would have required. Conservancy was a perfect new home, which provided a lot of the services Outreachy needed and allowed seamlessly continuing the program throughout 2015. The transition to Conservancy was completed in May. 30 interns were accepted for the May-August round with Karen Sandler, Sarah Sharp, and Marina Zhurakhinskaya serving as Outreachy's Project Leadership Committee and coordinators.

With the program's needs met, we were able to turn our minds to expanding the reach of the program. In September, Outreachy announced the expantion to people of color underrepresented in tech in the U.S., while continuing to be open to cis and trans women, trans men, and genderqueer people worldwide. This expansion was guided by the lack of diversity revealed by the employee demographic data released by many leading U.S. tech companies. Three new cooridinators, Cindy Pallares-Quezada, Tony Sebro, and Bryan Smith joined Karen Sandler, Sarah Sharp, and Marina Zhurakhinskaya to help with the expansion. 37 interns were accepted for the December-March round.

One of the most important measures of success for Outreachy is its alums speaking at free software conferences. In 2015, 27 alums had full-time sessions at conferences such as linux.conf.au, LibrePlanet, FOSSASIA, OpenStack Summit, Open Source Bridge, FISL, and LinuxCon. Isabel Jimenez gave a keynote about the benefits of contributing to open source at All Things Open. In a major recognition for an Outreachy alum, Yan Zhu was named among the women to watch in IT security by SC Magazine.

Outreachy coordinators are also being recognized for their contributions to free and open source software. Sarah Sharp won the inaugural Women in Open Source Award, sponsored by Red Hat, and generously donated her stipend to Outreachy. Marina Zhurakhinskaya won an O'Reilly Open Source Award.

Outreachy coordinators, mentors, and alums promoted Outreachy and diversity in free and open source software in the following articles and conference sessions:

Outreachy is made possible thanks to the contributions of its many coordinators, mentors, and sponsors. For May and December rounds, with the credit given for the highest level of sponsorship, Intel and Mozilla sponsored Outreachy at the Ceiling Smasher level, Red Hat at the Equalizer level, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Linux Foundation, and OpenStack Foundation at the Promoter level, and Cadasta, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Endless, Free Software Foundation, GNOME, Goldman Sachs, IBM, M-Lab, Mapbox, Mapzen, Mifos, Open Source Robotics Foundation, Perl, Samsung, Twitter, VideoLAN, Wikimedia Foundation, and Xen Project at the Includer level. Additionally, Red Hat supports Outreachy by contributing Marina Zhurakhinskaya's time towards the organization of the program and the GNOME Foundation provides infrastructure support. However, first and foremost, Outreachy is possible thanks to Conservancy being in place to be its non-profit home and handle the fiscal and legal needs of the program.

Conservancy's service of helping free software projects establish a foundation for growth without the prohibitive overhead of creating their own non-profits is a cornerstone of the free software community. We need Conservancy securely in place to continue providing exceptional support for its 33 member projects and to offer this support to new projects. To help free software thrive, please join Outreachy's Project Leadership Committee members Karen Sandler, Sarah Sharp, and Marina Zhurakhinskaya in becoming a Conservancy Supporter.

Tags: conservancy, Year In Review 2015

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