Big Picture: The Grants Council

For the past three seasons, the Grants Council has played a fundamental role in improving governance processes and in setting Optimism as one of the leading Layer 2 solutions. Its decisions have not only stimulated on-chain activity but also promoted an open and collaborative ecosystem.

As part of the Optimism Collective, we recognize that gathering data, often scattered across the forum, is essential for delegates, citizens, and community members to understand the importance of governance processes and their mechanisms, as well as the relevance of the involved organisms and their significance in achieving The Optimistic Vision.

With this purpose, we present this document, which compiles public forum data in an organized manner, providing a chronological, quantifiable, and cohesive perspective on the work and impact of the Grants Council on Optimism. We hope that the detailed information here offers delegates and new participants a clear view of the current state of governance and the influence of the Grants Council over the past three seasons. Furthermore, we aim to facilitate decision-making and participation in future metagovernance changes, and to enrich feedback during the pre-season 6 reflection period.

And as always, stay optimistic!

Disclaimer

This is a data collection effort to gain a broader understanding of one of the most significant organism within Optimism’s governance. If you find any error, please notify it.

Grants Council Retrospective: A Brief Historical Overview

The story of the Optimism Grants Council began during the Reflection Period just before Season #3, at a time when Optimism’s governance was taking its initial steps. The Optimism Foundation, aware of the challenges facing the governance structure—ambiguous processes, delegate workload overload, and underlying conflicts of interest—decided to introduce an innovative reform: The Grants Council.

During Special Voting Cycle #9a, the Token House approved the incorporation of the Grants Council and elected its first 8 members. They were organized into two subcommittees: Builders and Growth Experiments. While the members were part of the community, the Council leader was selected directly by the Foundation, an external figure with a primarily administrative role and no voting rights on grant approvals.

Since its beginning, the Grants Council has focused on operational efficiency and transparency. Its main objective was to streamline the proposal selection process, creating a more predictable environment for proposers and setting a regular rhythm in fund distribution. Clear scopes were set, distinguishing Partner Fund operations and improving accountability through milestone-based distributions and smaller-sized grants. This approach not only improved Governance Fund management but also eased the workload of delegates, allowing them to focus on other governance areas.

Today, the Grants Council continues its initial approach but has evolved to play an even more multifaceted role within Optimism’s governance. With the expansion to three subcommittees—Builders, Growth Experiments, and Milestones and Metrics—and a total of 13 members. This reflects the Optimism Collective’s ongoing commitment to efficient and responsible fund allocation, essential for the sustainable development of the ecosystem.

This strategic effort to integrate the grants process within the broader Token House governance framework not only underscores the Council’s commitment to continuous improvement but also ensures a lasting impact on strengthening and growing the Optimism ecosystem.

You can read more about the Council Structure, Goals and Responsibilities here.

Grants Council: The Journey of Growth in Optimism

Season #3: Habemus Grants Council

In this season, the Grants Council came to life, its foundations were laid and its first members were elected. It’s worth noting that in its early days, the Grants Council was titled as a governance experiment.

The Grants Council was led by danelund.eth and the committees made up of:

  • Builders: Gonna.eth, Kaereste, Jack Anorak
  • Growth Experiments: Michael Vander Meiden, Katie Garcia, GFX Labs, Matt Losquadro, Doug Sugma

Budget:

  • The Council budget: 5M OP
    • The Council Lead received a remuneration of 35k OP
    • Builders Sub- Committee Budget: 850k OP + Compensation per member 14k OP
    • Growth Experiments Sub- Committee Budge: 4M OP + Compensation per member 14k OP

Season #4: Council Framework and Renewal


In this season, Token House voted to renew the Grants Council and its leader, approving the budget proposal for Intent #2, which was overseen by the Council. Additionally, members of each subcommittee were re-elected. It’s worth noting that new tasks were added for Council members, including managing RFG line of grants, communications, and operations.

The Grants Council was once again led by danelund.eth, with the committees comprised of:

  • Builders: Gonna.eth, Kaereste, Jack Anorak
  • Growth Experiments: Michael Vander Meiden, Katie Garcia, GFX Labs, Matt Losquadro, Doug Sugma

Budget:

  • The Council budget: 5,285M OP + 12.5k USDC (budget operation). An extension of 2.5M OP was approved by reallocating leftover budget from Intents 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Season 4.
    • The Council Lead received a remuneration of 35k OP + 10k OP for the preparatory work during the weeks between Season 3 and Season 4.
    • Builders Sub- Committee Budget: 1M OP + Compensation per member 25k OP
    • Growth Experiments Sub- Committee Budge: 2M OP + Compensation per member 25k OP
    • RFGs Budget: 2M OP + 5k OP manager
    • Operation and Comms: 5k OP per manager

Season #5: Grants Council as Persistent Structures

In Season 5, the Grants Council transitioned from an experiment to a persistent structure within the Optimism Collective, meaning its renewal is no longer subject to a vote. The Council leader is now also elected by delegates, and each candidate for leader must propose an operational budget to support Council operations. Additionally, the selected leader must propose budgets for all intents. In this season, the Council evaluates proposals for all intents, not just intent #2. Additionally, the Milestones and Metrics subcommittee was added.

The Grants Council started off led by danelund.eth, but later he stepped down and Gonna.eth took his place.

The committees were comprised of:

  • Builders: Gonna.eth, Kaereste, Jack Anorak, Mastermojo* and Joxes.eth

  • Growth Experiments: Michael Vander Meiden, Katie Garcia, GFX Labs, Matt Losquadro, MoneyManDoug

  • Milestones and Metrics: Juanbug_PGov, v3naru_Curia and Mmurthy

  • In replace of Ethernaut.

Budgets:

  • The Council Operating budget: 440k OP
    • The Council Lead 0 OP (This position will be rewarded only through retroPGF if it is rewarded for Season 5)
    • Builders Sub- Committee: 30k OP per member
    • Growth Experiments Sub- Committee: 30k OP per member
    • Milestones and Metrics Sub- Committee: 25k OP per member
    • Operation manager: 10K OP
    • Communications Manager: 5K OP
    • 40,000 OP were allocated for grants specifically designed to improve the operations of the Council (e.g., knowledge management platform, front-end, developer contributions, etc.)
  • Intents Budget Proposal: 9M OP.
    • Intent #1: 1.33M OP
    • Intent #2: 4M OP
    • Intent # 3: 1.33M
    • Intent #4: 1.33M
    • 1 million OP were set aside for general allocation to any of the Intents.

Summary

  • The Council Operating budget cumulative: 872K OP + 12.5k USDC
  • Budget managed by the Council over the 3 seasons: 18325106 OP

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Grants Council by the Numbers

A brief review of the numbers season by season.

Season#3:

The Grants Council ran for two Cycles in Season 3: Cycle#10 and Cycle#11

Cycle#10: Jan 26th - March 1st:

  • 73 grants applicants
    • 26 were for Builders Grants,
    • 46 were for for Growth Experiments Grants
    • 1 was not updated to include a grant type
  • 22 Final Roundup:
    • Builders: 10 proposals for a budget of 335k OP Total.
    • Growth Experiments: 12 proposals for a total budget of 2133633 OP.
      • Total: 2468633 OP.

Cycle#11: March 2nd - April 5th

  • 79 grants applicants
    • 29 were for Builders Grants
    • 50 were for Growth Experiments Grants
  • 26 Final Roundup:
    • Builders: 12 proposals for a total budget of 454K OP
    • Growth Experiments: 14 proposals for a total budget of 1615500 OP.
      • Total: 2069500 OP.

Summary Season #3:

  • Total grants applicants: 152
  • Total grantees elected: 48
  • Total OP Tokens: 4538133

Season#4:

The Grants Council ran for three Cycles in Season 4: Cycle#13, Cycle#14, and Cycle#15.

Cycle 13: June 8th - July 12th

  • 106 total grants applicants
    • 58 were for Builders Grants
    • 48 were for Experiments Grants
  • 26 Final Roundup:
    • Builders 16 projects for a total of 612.5K OP
    • Experiments 10 projects for a total of 1040500 OP
      • Total : 1653000 OP

Cycle 14: July 13th - August 16th

  • 97 total grants applicants

    • 51 were for Experiments Grants
    • 46 were for Builders Grants
  • 28 Final Roundup:

    • Builders 18 projects for a total of 589,4k OP
  • Experiments 10 projects for a total of 935k OP

    • Total: 1524400 OP

Cycle 15: August 17th - September 20th

  • 104 total grants applicants
    • 54 were for Builders Grants
    • 50 were for Growth Experiments Grants
  • 23 Final Roundup:
    • Builders: 16 proposals for a total budget of 496,7K OP
    • Growth Experiments: 7 proposals for a total budget of 1205000 OP.
      • Total 1701700 OP

Requests for Grants (RFG): These were specific grants that we did not include in the summary.

  • 72 total grants applicants
  • 17 proposal Final Roundup for a total budget of 1712000 OP

Summary Season #4:

  • Total: 307 grants applicants
  • Total grantees elected: 94
  • Total OP Tokens: 6591100

Season#5

The Grants Council ran for two rounds in Season 5: Cycle 19 and Cycle 22. Season 5 ran from January 4, 2024, to May 8, 2024. The Season will include two grant rounds:

  • S5 Round 1: Feb 1st - Mar 28th
  • S5 Round 2: Mar 14th - May 8th

Cycle#19:

  • 314 applications were received for 28 mission requests.
  • 43 propuestas Final Roundup
    • 5 proposal for Intent 1 - 225k OP
    • 18 proposal for Intent 2 - 1155000 OP
    • 14 proposal for intent 3 - 1055000 OP
    • 6 proposal for intent 4 - 119k OP
      • Total: 2554000 OP

Cycle#22:

  • 234 grants applications
  • 87 Final Roundup:
    • 12 proposal for Intent 1 - 640k OP
    • 46 proposal for Intent 2 - 2288984 OP
    • 23 proposal for Intent 3 - 1514390 OP
    • 6 proposal for Intent 4 - 123500 OP
      • Total allocated: 4566874 OP

Summary Season #5:

  • Total grants applicants: 548
  • Total grantees: 130
  • Total OP Tokens: 7120874 OP

Summary

Above, we can see the total number of applications per cycle and per season, along with those that advanced to the Final Roundup. Additionally it shows the approved budget by the Foundation for each season, as well as the total OP allocation per cycle, specifically for the Builders and Growth subcommittees, along with the allocation for RFG. It also shows the total budget that was allocated and any leftover funds that were returned to the Gov Fund.

Season #1 to #5 totals
This chart displays the total number of applications and those that reached the Final Round throughout the grants process, from Cycle 10 in Season 3 to Cycle 22 in Season 5.

This graph shows the budget of the Grants Council across its three active seasons, delineating the approved budget for each season, the total allocated amount per season, and the funds returned to the Gov Fund treasury at the conclusion of each season.

The introduction of the Grants Council within the Optimism Collective has proven highly beneficial for governance. Since its beginning, we have observed significant changes in fund distribution. In the first two seasons, before the Council was established, fund distribution was disorganized with large amounts of OP tokens allocated to a limited number of applicants. However, with the implementation of the Council in Season 3, the situation improved dramatically: the number of applicants increased by 261.9%, and the number of beneficiaries rose by 54.8%.

In Season 4, we continued to see progress, with a 101.9% increase in the number of applicants and a 60.41% increase in beneficiaries. The allocated funds increased moderately, by 7.5% compared to Season 3. The positive trend continued in Season 5, where the number of applicants grew by 78.5% and beneficiaries by 68.9%. Additionally, the allocated funds also increased by 47.48% compared to the previous season. It is worth mentioning that in latest season the Grants Council evaluated both the Grants Program and Mission Requests Program.

Regarding the budget, we can see that each season a portion of the initially approved budget has not been allocated and it was returned to the Government Fund Treasury. This suggests that funds are allocated meticulously and responsibly, avoiding exceeding the initially assigned budget. Similarly, when it was necessary to allocate more budget, such as in Season 4, it was increased by 2.5 million.

During Cycle 19, out of the 314 applications the Grants Council received, 252 were evaluated by 2 randomly selected reviewers based on the respective subcommittee involved, following the specified rubric. After passing the intake filter, approximately 40 proposals were ultimately approved, including 31 for the builders subcommittee and 12 for the Growth subcommittee. Meanwhile, in Cycle 22, the Grants Council received 234 applications. Out of these, 37 applications were declined during intake, leaving 197 to be evaluated by two randomly selected reviewers, depending on the subcommittee handling the mission request. Among these, 64 proposals were assigned to the builders subcommittee and 26 to the Growth subcommittee. This data was gathered from the Optimism GovFund Grants: Public Delivery Tracking. We would like to highlight the work of the reviewers:

Note:

  • In Season #4, the Request for Grant (RFG) was introduced, with approximately 77 applicants, 17 of whom were approved, and 1,712,000 OP tokens allocated. The RFG administrator was @jackanorak.

A Positive Rhizome:

  • The total number of applications for Cycle 13 was ~34% higher than for Cycle#14

  • During S4, the Cycle#13 had a 24.5% grant rate vs 33.8% for Season 3

  • Compared to Season 4 (306 applications) Season 5 experienced an astonishing 73.2% growth

  • Applications:

    • There’s been a 196,20% more grants applicants in Season#5 than Season#3
    • The increase in the number of applications between Cycle 10 and Cycle 11 is approximately 8.22%.
    • The increase in the number of applications between Cycle 11 and Cycle 13 is approximately 34.18%.
    • During Cycle 14 compared to Cycle 13, there was a decrease of 8.49% in applications.
    • The percentage increase in the number of applications between Cycle 14 and Cycle 15 is approximately 7.22%.
    • The percentage increase in the number of applications between Cycle 15 and Cycle 19 is approximately 201.92%.
    • Between Cycle 19 and Cycle 22, there was a decrease of 25.48% in the number of applications.
  • Budget:

    • The Cycle 22 allocated the highest budget, around 4,566,874 OP, which represents an increase of approximately 85% compared to the initial Cycle 10 budget of 2,468,633 OP.

We share this document with a little more insight in percentages such as pass rates, budget and applications between cycles.

Conclusion: A few optimistic ideas

The purpose of this data collection was to snapshot, in a single post, the impact of the Grants Council and its importance within governance. We believe it’s important for delegates and community members to understand the work and positive impact of these entities driving the Optimism collective.

That’s why we’d like to contribute some ideas that came up while working on this report:

  • Just like this post by @gonna.eth, we believe that Audit Requests should have a dedicated subcommittee for evaluation and closer approach to protocols and auditors. We also suggest that this subcommittee have its own framework, schedule and timeline.

  • As we saw, the number of applicants increases each season, and to maintain this momentum while assisting diverse groups of developers, communities, and protocols in applying to the Grants Program and Mission Requests Program, we suggest establishing a broader marketing and communications task force. Perhaps @katie, who led communications for the Grants Council, can provide insights on whether this makes sense.

  • We also believe that a working group could be established to provide initial feedback on proposals; this group would ensure that proposals meet the template and established requirements. The idea of this group is to alleviate the workload of reviewers.

These are just a few suggestions that we’re sharing so we can continue iterating together.

Additional resources
Grants Council charmverse - Season #3
Grants Council charmverse - Season#4
Grants Council charmverse- Season#5

19 Likes

Nice read! Thank you for gathering all this data, You can reach out next time if you are missing any numbers.

The grants council was elected by delegates during Season 4 too. It sounds like the implementation happened during Season 5 but was implemented in the previous season.

Will be also nice to mention the huge work reviewers did previous to the review process with the rubrics which is the core idea behind the selection process.

Some more data for you, I’ll use it on the next Grants Council Budget for KPIs:

  • Pass rate to final review Season 4 and 5 ≈37.5%
    • S4: 118 final review / 306 submitted applications = 38.5%
    • S5: 196 final review / 530 submitted applications = 37%
  • Finalist rate from final review Season 4 and 5 ≈65.3%
    • S4: 77 finalist / 118 final review = 65.3%
    • S5: 130 finalist / 196 final review = 66.3%
  • Overall application rate Season 4 and 5 ≈24.8%
    • S4: 77 finalist / 306 applications = 25.1%
    • S5: 130 finalist / 530 applications = 24.5%

Nice post!

8 Likes

Complete and understandable post to get to know from the conception of the Grants Council, for those who are starting in the Collective.

Happy to collaborate with translation or summaries to share with Spanish-speaking communities. :muscle:t2:

Great job! :clap:t3::clap:t3:

1 Like

Loving this post! Thank you for sharing this detailed report on the work and impact of the Grants Council on Optimism.

It’s fascinating to see how the Grants Council has evolved from its inception to become a foundational structure within the Optimism ecosystem. This compilation of information and data provides us with a clear insight into the significance and impact of the Grants Council on Optimism governance across multiple seasons.

Keep up the excellent job!

1 Like

Thanks for documenting the evolution of the Grants Council! Useful for context building for new members and also fun to see :slight_smile:

On the above, we’re planning to have one of the three govNERD Maintainers train the govNERDs in training to help with this process now that govNERDs are transitioning to an open contribution path.

6 Likes

That sounds great as it contributes to the meta governance path we’re working on.

1 Like

image
That should be Mojo.

2 Likes

Thanks for your response, good to know. We were thinking it could be done with a third party group, but if it works for the governor too that’s great.

On what you mentioned, how can the DAO keep track and help define tasks? We think it would be good for these tasks to cover both missions and Grants Council, specially as an initial feedback stage, so projects have more polished proposals by the time they reach the Grants Council, making it easier for them to evaluate.

Thank you for pointing that out, we will correct it now.

Yes! This will be published as part of the govNERDs contribution path, which @op_julian and @blockchainwith are working on now, to be launched at the start of Season 6

3 Likes