News

2018 Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Nidhi Jain

This year’s Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship recipient is Nidhi Jain, a developer who enjoys helping her clients learn how to use WordPress. Over the past four years, she has contributed to the WordPress Core, Polyglots, Support, Community, Themes, Plugins and Meta teams. Jain recently served as the lead organizer of WordCamp Udaipur 2018, and continues to participate actively in her local WordPress community.

The WordPress Foundation created this memorial scholarship in 2015, to honor the memory of longtime WordPress contributor Kim Parsell. This scholarship provides financial support to a woman who contributes to the WordPress open source project, who would not otherwise be able to attend WordCamp US. More information on the scholarship, including information on past recipients, is available here.

You can read more about Nidhi and what led her to this opportunity on the WordCamp US 2018 site.

Open Source Training Events Announced

As part of our continuing efforts to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software (OSS), we’re excited to announce that four local WordPress communities will organize Introduction to Open Source workshops next month!

The following communities have scheduled an Introduction to Open Source workshop, for the following dates:

Once all these events take place, we’ll publish recaps of the workshops. Many thanks to all of the groups who applied for the grant this year! We hope to support even more workshops in 2019.

If you’re interested in helping the WordPress Foundation support open source education all over the world, please donate today!

Charity Hackathons: 2018 Mid-year Report

At the end of 2017 we reported on how the recently introduced do_action charity hackathon event series had been going — by the end of the year, we had worked with four local communities to help them run their own do_action events, which was a great start to the program and one that we were looking to build on for 2018.

Participants at the Bristol do_action event 

And build on it we did! With word getting out about the events and more people in the WordPress community finding out about them, we have already worked seven different communities who ran their own local do_action events — starting with Bristol in February, followed by Pune, Zurich, McAllen, Lagos, Cape Town, and finishing with Harare at the end of July. On top of that, a further three events are scheduled for the rest of the year — Port Harcourt, Stuttgart and Montreal — with another three in pre-planning that are not yet scheduled.

The do_action event in Zurich, Switzerland

At the seven events that have already taken place, there were a total of 220 participants from the local communities, and they built websites for 32 different non-profit organizations in their cities.

Some of the websites built at these events include:

All the participants at the McAllen, TX do_action event

Aside from these fantastic new websites, each organization also received enhanced social media profiles, newsletter integrations and easy to use donation platforms.

In order to make sure the organizations are able to work with their new websites, each event runs training sessions for the non-profits coaching them on how to use WordPress to manage their content and get the most our of their sites.

Cape Town do_action teams hard at work

On the surface these events provide an improved online presence for each of the non-profit organizations, but they really do so much more than that. A website is essentially just code on a server, but what these organizations are getting is so much more than that — what they’re really getting is a platform that allows them to get on with the great work that they do without having to worry about the technical side of things.

With these new websites working for them, each of the non-profits can receive donations, attract volunteers, help more people, and further their work. It is a great gift that goes beyond a bit of programming and really touches the heart of what the founders of organizations like these set out to do in the first place.

Participants at the Lagos event

As we look ahead to the rest of 2018 and beyond, we’re excited to see what our communities do for even more non-profit organizations and where the do_action program will grow from here.

Call for Organizers: Introduction to Open Source Workshops for 2018

Last year, in an effort to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software (OSS), the WordPress Foundation helped fund two “Introduction to Open Source” workshops in Mombasa and Kanpur.

The goal of this workshop is to highlight the potential of open source software in regions where there is less participation in OSS projects.

Last year’s workshops were quite successful, so in 2018 we’re expanding this program to support up to four separate events. We are particularly interested in funding event held in regions where there might be less awareness of — or support for — participation in open source, specifically Latin and South America, Africa, Oceania and Asia*.

To learn more about this workshop program, and how you can get involved, read on!

Event title: Introduction to Open Source

Event description: What do people mean when they use the term Open Source when referring to software? This workshop will cover that question as well as what the GPL software license provides, why WordPress is an open-source project, and how this is important for both the users of WordPress and the contributors to WordPress.

Event purpose: Spread knowledge and understanding of the open web and open source through two-hour training events, staffed and organized by local communities, and financially supported by the WordPress Foundation, using training materials here:

Financial support: up to $500 USD per event, available to cover costs associated with event venue, refreshments, and/or videography.

Expectations for organizers: Event should be free of cost, open to anyone, and organized/held in 2018. Strong preference will be given to organizers who are already members of a community group that is part of the WordPress open source project’s meetup chapter program, but has not yet organized a WordCamp. Organizers should not need to solicit additional event sponsorship. Financial support will be provided via Paypal or wire transfer, and will require documentation.

Interested in organizing an event like this? Fill out this 10-question application!

We’ll close grant applications on August 23, and notify the successful applicants no later than September 10, 2018.

*According to a recent study, the majority of Github participation in OSS projects is centered in North America and Western and Northern Europe.

Successful Open Source Workshops in Mombasa and Kanpur

In 2017, we set a goal of supporting the organizing of two “Introduction to Open Source” workshops in parts of the world with less participation in open source: Latin and South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia*. This was accomplished with events in Mombasa, Kenya and Kanpur, India.

Mombasa

The Introduction to Open Source workshop in Mombasa was held on September 23, 2017 at Swahili Pot Hub. Though only 10 people signed up online, 38 people attended.

Daniel Joakim, lead organizer of the event, commented that this kind of workshop was a good fit for the Mombasa community because:

Currently, in Kenya and more specifically in Mombasa, the rate of unemployment is extremely high. Thousands of high school graduates normally don’t make it to the university or any higher learning institutions every passing year, so where do they end up? It is so sad, the majority get wasted on the beach and in the local clubs, this is a negative growth to the community.

Introducing open source software to these generations might be the solution to unemployment. The main agenda in mind for that event was to open up minds of the youths to seek other alternatives to tools that are readily available, and build amazing technology on top of these.

The WordPress Mombasa group was founded a little over a year ago, and currently has 168 members. Daniel said that organizing the workshop helped spread the word about the monthly user group, as well as educating the community about open source. Regarding the response of attendees to the information about open source shared in the workshop, Daniel said, “some of the attendees liked the fact of ease of use without the technical background of coding. Others found it to be handy in terms (of) speed in web design compared to other conventional methods we know.”

Kanpur

The WordPress Kanpur user group held its Introduction to Open Source workshop on November 11, 2017 at Allenhouse Institute of Technology. Online sign-ups were counted at 44, but event attendance was estimated at 150-200. Hardeep Asrani, one of the organizers of the event along with Himanshu Awasthi, said that the Kanpur community was interested in organizing this workshop because:

We love open-source and wanted to spread more knowledge about what open-source is, and why it’s important. We’ve been trying to take our workshops to colleges and schools to bring more awareness, and the [Introduction to] Open Source workshop allowed us to do this exactly.

In addition to presenting the material outlined in the lesson plans on WordPress.org, the Kanpur organizers included an open mic session. Hardeep commented that this allowed attendees to talk about anything they had coded and published open-source. “There was a guy who coded a pretty cool application using C++, and he was unsure how to release it, and open-source wasn’t his first choice, but we sat with him and explained him how it can benefit him and the community, and he decided to release it under GPL once it’s finished,” said Hardeep.

When asked about what part of the workshop particularly interested attendees, Hardeep responded, “When we talked about the freedom that open-source and Free Software gives you, a lot of people were interested, as well as when it came to privacy.”

Looking forward to more workshops in 2018

Based on the success of these two workshops, we hope to expand this program in the future, with a plan to sponsor at least four events in 2018. If you’re interested in organizing an event of this kind in your community, please keep an eye out for the next call for organizers, which will be posted early next year!

If you’re interested in helping the WordPress Foundation support open source education all over the world, please donate today!

*According to a recent study, the majority of Github participation in OSS projects is centered in North America and Western and Northern Europe.

Charity Hackathons in 2017

When we were looking forward to 2017, one of our goals was to work with local WordPress communities to organize charity hackathons in order to help non-profits benefit from open source tools. We made sure to achieve this goal by bringing the do_action event series into our program.

do_action is a charity hackathon that uses WordPress to uplift local communities by having volunteers come together to build websites for non-profit organizations.

Over the course of the year, we supported four local communities in running do_action events – Johannesburg, Beirut, Cape Town and Montreal. Each event was very successful, resulting in a total of 122 volunteers building WordPress sites for 17 different non-profits organizations — with the financial and logistical support from the WordPress Foundation to make it all possible.

Here is a small selection of the sites that were created at these hackathons:

Along with their websites, the non-profits also received invaluable WordPress training, making these events educational as well as charitable.

Looking back

We chatted to the organizers of the four events this year to get an idea of why they chose to do them, and how they feel about it all – they had some interesting insight into their events and the impact that the do_action events can have worldwide.

Beirut

The Beirut event was held on July 8 — they had 30 volunteers attending and helped 3 organizations get online with WordPress.

The primary organizer for the Beirut event, Marina Pape, had a great team working with her to make it happen. She said that “do_action seemed a good fit as the tech scene in Beirut is pretty alive and there are a lot of NGOs doing great stuff, but needing websites.”

Group of participants from do_action BeirutThe event “went smoothly, with a great group of people. It met the goal of rallying the WordPress community, creating connections between WordPress developers, designers, and marketing people.”

Marina and the Beirut community are interested in organizing another event in the do_action series for 2018.

Cape Town

This was Cape Town’s fourth annual do_action event — this year they held the event on July 15 and had 70 volunteers working to build new WordPress websites for 9 organizations.

I was the lead organizer for the Cape Town event and we put the event together because we wanted to open our local WordPress community to the broader community of Cape Town and using our web-building skills for this just made sense — we, as a WordPress community, have all the skills needed to build a great online presence for anyone. Couple that with the fact that there is a lot of need amongst Cape Town non-profits for this kind of thing, and an event like this becomes the logical next step.

Cape Town do_action participants working on the non-profits websites
Photo by Basil Parker: Instagram @basilparker

While it’s difficult to gauge the impact of a do_action event in its entirety, we’re confident that we met the goals for the day. The non-profits all left with great new websites along with training on how to use them effectively in order to grow their own causes — that’s the goal of this event.

Aside from the broader impact of the non-profits being more empowered to continue their good work, our WordPress community worked together in a way that we never have before — the impact of this on each of us as individuals and our community as a whole has been fantastic. We now have a greater awareness for organizations outside of our usual circle, and we have shown that we can use WordPress as a powerful tool to provide a dynamic platform for any non-profit organization.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg held their event on February 4; 10 volunteers attended and they helped 1 charity with a new WordPress website.

Seagyn Davis, who was the lead organizer for the Johannesburg event, said that they “always love giving towards good causes and do_action is a great initiative that allows them to use the great skills found in the WordPress community to do something really great for someone who really needs it.”

When we asked about the possibility of doing do_action again in 2018, he said that “the people that were involved really loved it and would do it again” — they are in the process of recruiting an organizing team for the next event already.

Montreal

Montreal hosted their event on October 14 — they had 28 volunteers coming together to build WordPress websites for 4 organizations.

The motivation behind the Sasha Endoh’s plans in leading the Montreal event, was that though her “business is focused on working with non-profit clients, there are many times when smaller organizations who do important work can’t quite afford to hire a professional team for their project.” She wanted to give back to the community “by giving support to these organizations and helping them have a greater impact.”

Montreal do_action participants working on the non-profits websites
Photo by Jer Clarke: jerclarke.org

When asked after the event about what impact she felt the hackathon had on the broader community of Montreal, Sasha commented that, by assisting the organizations that took part, “we hope to have helped to bring more cultural events, create a community space, connect and support folks who’ve been through the foster (care) and adoption system, and put a dent in the abandoned animal problem in our city.”

“It was amazing to see so many different folks come together for a good cause — the organizing team is eager to go to work on the next event!”

Looking ahead

The plan for 2018 is to continue promoting the do_action hackathons and supporting more communities that wish to organize them, around the world. There are already four events on the schedule for next year – three of which are in cities that have never hosted one before (Bristol, Pune and Zurich) along with one returning city (Cape Town) – and we fully expect at least another five communities to be organizing their own events over the course of the year too.

If you’d like to become an organizer for a local do_action event, you can find out more in the organizer’s handbook.

To help support this program, and the WordPress Foundation’s other efforts to educate people about open source and WordPress, you can donate here!

2017 Kim Parsell Scholarship Recipient: Bianca Welds

This year’s Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship recipient has been selected by members of the WordPress global community team. Over the past two years, Bianca Welds has worked with the local community to bring education around technology and help others achieve entrepreneurial success in the online space. Currently residing in Kingston, Jamaica, Welds is a new contributor and is ready to kickstart progress in her community.

You can read more about Bianca and what led her to this opportunity on the WordCamp US site. More information on the scholarship, including information on past recipients, is available here.

Call for Organizers: Introduction to Open Source

To further the WordPress Foundation’s charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software (OSS), we want to sponsor a new series of workshops/training events introducing people to open source.

Specifically, we want to shine more light on the potential of open source software in countries where there is less participation in OSS projects. To help spread the word about the potential that open source has to offer, we’d like to provide financial support for two educational events this year, to be organized in parts of the world with less participation in open source: Latin and South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia*. Here’s what we have in mind:

Event title: Introduction to Open Source

Event description: What do people mean when they use the term Open Source when referring to software? This workshop will cover that question as well as what the GPL software license provides, why WordPress is an open-source project, and how this is important for both the users of WordPress and the contributors to WordPress.

Event purpose: Spread knowledge and understanding of the open web and open source through two-hour training events, staffed and organized by local communities, and financially supported by the WordPress Foundation, using training materials here: https://make.wordpress.org/training/handbook/user-lessons/what-is-open-source/ and https://make.wordpress.org/training/handbook/user-lessons/what-can-you-do-with-wordpress/

Financial support: up to $500 USD per event, available to defray costs associated with event venue, refreshments, and/or videography.

Expectations for organizers: Event should be free of cost, open to anyone, and organized/held in 2017. Strong preference will be given to organizers who are already members of a community group that is part of the WordPress open source project’s meetup chapter program, but has not yet organized a WordCamp. Organizers should not need to solicit additional event sponsorship. Financial support will be provided via Paypal or wire transfer, and will require documentation.

Interested in organizing an event like this? Fill out this 10-question application!

We’ll close applications on August 21, and notify the successful applicants no later than September 8, 2017.

*According to a recent study, the majority of Github participation in OSS projects is centered in North America and Western and Northern Europe.

Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship

We’ve added information on the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship, which provides funding annually for a woman who contributes to WordPress to attend WordCamp US, to our site. We’ll also announce the 2017 awardee here, when this year’s selection process is complete.

The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship supports the mission of the WordPress Foundation to democratize publishing, supporting participation in open source by people who are historically underrepresented in the world of tech.