Rewarding open source for social good

Do you know a software developer building open source tools with the potential to positively impact communities around the world? If you do – or you are one – then read on.

The Tides Foundation is now accepting nominations for this year’s Pizzigati Prize. The Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest annually awards a $10,000 cash grant to one individual who has created or led an effort to create an open source software product of significant value to the nonprofit sector and movements for social change.

The 2012 winner will be announced in April at the Nonprofit Technology Network annual conference in San Francisco. Each year, starting in 2006, the Pizzigati Prize has accepted nominations for talented and creative individuals who develop open source software products that demonstrate impressive value to the nonprofit sector. Tides welcomes nominations from both developers and the nonprofits who work with them.

Earlier this year I had the honour of picking up the Pizzigati Prize in Washington DC on behalf of everyone at FrontlineSMS. According to the Pizzigati jury, we’d managed to:

create software that speaks directly to the reality that millions of people globally have only simple mobile phones and no access whatsoever to the Internet. The software they developed turns mobile phones into grassroots organizing tools for everything from mobilizing young voters to thwarting thieving commodity traders.

The 2010 Pizzigati Prize winner, Yaw Anokwa, led the development on Open Data Kit, a modular set of tools that’s helping nonprofits the world over on a wide variety of battlefronts, from struggles to prevent deforestation to campaigns against human rights violations.

“Open source software developers like these fill an indispensable role”, explained Tides Chief of Staff Joseph Mouzon, a Pizzigati Prize judge and the former Executive Director of Nonprofit Services for Network for Good. “The Pizzigati Prize aims to honor that contribution – and encourage programmers to engage their talents in the ongoing struggle for social change”.

The Pizzigati Prize honors the brief life of Tony Pizzigati, an early advocate of open source computing. Born in 1971, Tony spent his college years at MIT, where he worked at the world-famous MIT Media Lab. Tony died in 1995, in an auto accident on his way to work in Silicon Valley.

Full details on the Pizzigati Prize, the largest annual award in public interest computing, are available online.

Please nominate, share or enter as appropriate. Good luck!

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