Grants Council: Internal Operating Procedures for Season 5

Internal Procedures - Governing

The internal procedures in this document govern the activities of the Experiments, Builders, and Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committees. The document sets forth the processes the Sub-Committees will follow in order to screen applications and conduct a formal review of proposals submitted for grants.

Cycle Procedure

Each Cycle will have three periods, a Submission Period, a Review Period, and a Decision Period.

  • The Submission Period is designed to accommodate the submission and fair review of applications.

  • The Review Period is designed to enable a methodical and interactive review of submissions and to enable sound grants decisions.

  • The Decision Period is designed to facilitate efficient and diligent grants decisions.

The Cycle Procedure is set forth in detail in the sections that follow.

Submission Period - Procedure

  • During the Submission Period, the Council will have three objectives: (1) receive proposals; (2) finalize Sub-Committee review rubrics and (3) begin reviewing applications.

  • During the Submission Period, proposers will be able to submit proposals through a Proposal form for a specific Mission.

  • The Submission Period will last two weeks for each round in Season 5. Dates will be reflected on the Calendar on the Grants Council landing page no later than January 19, 2024.

  • For each relevant Mission, the Sub-Committees will publish final review rubrics on the Council Landing Page by the end of the Submission Period for a given Cycle. The Sub-Committees will specify the cut-off criteria to pass to the Final Review when publishing a final rubric.

  • Sub-Committee members will begin reviewing applications in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

Review Period - Procedure

  • The Review Period has three objectives: (1) Complete the Intake Filter; (2) Complete Preliminary Review; (3) Publish the list of proposals to be reviewed for Final Review.

  • The Review Period will last for four weeks, culminating with the publication of a list of proposals to be voted on by the Council for Final Review.

Intake Filter

  • Intake Filter is a preliminary review to assess the adequacy of proposals. This process runs immediately following the Submissions Period and for two weeks thereafter. It may be extended for up to five days by Sub-Committee vote based on the volume of proposals.

  • To begin the Intake Filter process, the Grants Council Operations Lead will assign proposals submitted prior to the end of the Submission Period to Sub-Committee members in sequential order.

  • The assigned member will conduct an Intake Filter Review, as described below.

  • Reviewers should provide a brief comment that elaborates on the grounds for rejection.

  • The Operations Lead will approve a simple form for Sub-Committee members to complete for each review and manage a tracker to ensure orderly review of proposals. The form responses will be made available to the community.

Preliminary Review

  • Upon the completion of the Intake Filter, the Operations Lead will also include an assignment of each passing proposal to a reviewer.

  • A reviewer will complete an assessment form for each proposal they review. The Operations Lead will provide the form to the Sub-Committee members. The form will be based on each Sub-Committee’s rubric, which can be found on each Sub-Committee landing page.

  • For each relevant Mission and Cycle, two reviewers will review each proposal that passes intake according to a rubric set forth by the relevant Sub-Committee for that Mission. A proposal’s score for the Preliminary Review will be the average of the two reviewers’ scores.

  • If a proposal meets the cutoff criteria specified by the relevant Sub-Committee, the proposal will be placed on the Review List for a final review during the Decision Period.

  • In order to move to a Final Review, any proposal pertinent to Intent 1 must be approved by the Developer Advisory Board.

Decision Period - Procedure

  • During the Decision Period, Sub-Committee members have two objectives: (1) rank proposals and (2) decide the finalists list.

  • For the first week of the Decision Period, each Sub-Committee member will review each proposal application on the Review List and assign their own score based on the rubric factors.

  • At the beginning of the second week of the Decision Period, Sub-Committee members will convene to discuss the overall rankings of the proposals.

  • The Sub-Committees will determine the finalists by selecting the proposals with the highest mean score from the Proposal Ranking in descending order. The Sub-Committees will determine the cutoff, or “n”, number of projects that will receive grants from the descending list, where 1-n shall be grant recipients. Where “n” is specified by a Token House Mission Proposal, the Sub-Committee will follow the proposal.

  • Each Sub-Committee will collaborate on final grant communications to be made to the finalists and to the Optimism community.

Final Grant Communications

Based on the input of the Sub-Committees, the Council will communicate the results to the proposers and post the results to the Governance Forum within three days of the end of the Cycle.

Grant Finalists

The Grants Council decisions on final grants represent only the opinion of the Grants Council as to which projects are grantworthy. The Grants Council does not hold, issue or distribute grants. The Foundation administers grant implementation in accordance with the Optimism Collective Operating Manual . The Grants Council does not endorse or promote any products or projects.

By proceeding with the grant process, any proposer and / or grantee acknowledges that the Grants Council and its reviewers and administrators and their affiliates do not distribute the grants and are not liable to the grant recipients in any way and will hold the Council harmless for any claim related to the grant in any way. The recipients acknowledge that the Grants Council, its reviewers, and its administrators and their affiliates are not making a representation of the effectiveness or quality of their product by giving a grant. The grant is subject to restriction or delivery based on rules set forth in the Optimism Collective Operating Manual, Optimism Grants Policies, or any other applicable rule or procedure, including but not limited to a vote of the Token House, the procedures of the Code of Conduct Council, or other applicable process, for nonperformance of critical milestones, egregious behavior, or any other reason.

Milestone Completion and Accountability Review

The Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committee will be responsible for assessing and tracking milestones for grants that have reached the Final Review as well as finalists from Seasons 3 through 5.

Milestone Hub

By January 31, 2024, the Operations Manager and Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee lead shall create a Milestone Hub on the Grants Council Landing Page that serves as a space for grants finalists to report their milestone progress. The Milestone Hub should contain instructions on how finalists should submit their milestones and the form in which those milestones should be reported. The Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee shall assess whether the Milestone Hub is well-suited to its purpose and may, with the assistance and guidance of the Operations Manager, adapt the Milestone Hub as it deems appropriate.

Prospective Proposals

In order to be considered as a finalist, a proposal must include critical and benchmark milestones. Critical milestones are intended to show good faith effort and a baseline of success toward the goals articulated in the grant proposal. Benchmark milestones are intended to show impact to the Optimism Collective that can be used to assess the project in the future.

The Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee will establish Milestone Guidelines for assessing milestone sufficiency. The Milestone Guidelines will be aimed at creating discrete, trackable milestones for each successful proposal.

At the beginning of each Final Review, the Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committee will review each proposal selected by each of the Experiments and the Builders Sub-Committees for Final Review to determine whether the proposal’s milestones meet the standard of sufficiency set forth in the Milestones Guidelines.

In order to be eligible to become a finalist, a proposal must receive a favorable vote of a majority of the Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committee members verifying that the proposal’s milestones meet the standards of sufficiency.

Past Proposals

The Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committee shall make recommendations to the Foundation or Optimism Collective as to whether or not to proceed with the remainder of an Experiments or Builders grant. In general, the Milestones and Metrics Sub-Committee shall not recommend proceeding with a project unless all critical milestones have been achieved (per the vote of the Sub-Committee).

The Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee is generally responsible for voting on whether or not milestones have been achieved. In circumstances where the Sub-Committee determines that it would require expertise beyond the capacity of the Sub-Committee, the Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee Lead may submit a milestone for consideration of the Sub-Committee that originally voted to designate the proposal as a prior finalist. In such cases, the majority vote of the relevant sub-committee shall be considered determinative.

Standard procedure

  • Proposals for the continuation of an Experiments grant or the completion of a Builders grant should be submitted to the Milestones Hub. (Season 5 will be CharmVerse)

  • In general, proposals will be reviewed only after a project confirms that all relevant critical milestones have been completed. However, the Milestone and Metrics Sub-Committee may consider requests to review individual milestones in the case that a project requires feedback on a milestone to continue.

  • Absent an approval for a greater amount of time, critical milestones will be considered past due after six months from the delivery of the grant for Experiments proposals and twelve months from the locking of the grant for Builders proposals.

  • Milestones and Metrics votes shall be recorded.

Other procedures

  • In cases where a project has failed to complete its critical milestones in the allotted time (either the six or twelve month defaults for Experiments and Builders or the time allotted on the specific proposal, whichever is greater), the Sub-Committee will default to recommending against proceeding with any further steps of the grant.

  • In the case where a proposer makes a proposal to change the substance (or extend the time) of a critical milestone, the Sub-Committee may consider the change only if (a) the Sub-Committee determines that there is substantial good reason to support the request and (b) a super-majority of all of the Council reviewers vote in favor of the proposal.

  • For milestones pertinent to Intent 1 proposals, the Sub-Committee shall wait for the Developer Advisory Board to confirm the completion of the critical milestones prior to confirming completion to the Foundation.

At any point, if the Council becomes aware of a matter that should be presented to the Code of Conduct Council, the Council may revoke its recommendation to move forward with a grant.

The guidance in this section yields to any contrary rule, guidance, or vote from Token House or the Foundation.

Reviewer Metrics Accountability

In conjunction with the newly established Milestones and Metrics committee, that committee will start the process of ensuring grant council reviewers communicate effectively with the grant applicants and are accountable for their work. For Season 5, specific metrics and processes as mandated by the charter will include: reviewer comment frequency on substantive rubric components, reviewer comments on failed intake proposals, reviewer attendance of sub-committee meetings, reviewer voting on sub-committee and full council polls.

The metrics as a whole will possibly be adapted over the course of the season as best practices reveal themselves in this trial run period. The goal will not be to micromanage each reviewer but more so to identify and allocate additional support for those reviewers that need such, while also offering comparison between reviewers for delegates and token house members.

Official Record and Rule Changes

  • The Council will maintain a tracker of proposals considered, finalists named, milestones for finalists, and the progress / completion of milestones.

  • For Season 5, the operating procedures for any Requests for Grants considerations from Season 4 shall be approved by separate rules set forth by the prior RFG Lead and the current Operations Lead and Milestone and Metrics Lead with the consent of the Foundation.

  • On a bi-weekly basis, the Council may review the effectiveness of its internal procedures and make proposals for improvement. The Sub-Committee can amend the internal procedures by a simple majority vote of the members of all Sub-Committees (provided that any vote to amend the rubric comports with the procedures described above). Any amendment must be recorded as a comment to this post and reflected on the Landing Page. It is recommended that the Sub-Committee defer the effectiveness of an amendment until the next review cycle, unless the amendment creates a critical improvement to the review process.

Rules of Decision

  • If one or more Sub-Committee members abstains from a vote, a vote will pass by the simple majority vote of the remaining members, provided there are more than one voting members remaining. If only one member of a Sub-Committee votes, the result will be to take no action on the proposed matter. For instance, if the matter being voted on relates to whether or not to include an application in the final review, the result will be not to include the application in the final review.

  • Any Council-wide votes must include members of each Sub-Committee to achieve a quorum.

  • The Grants Council Lead or Operations Lead may correct any clear errors in the Internal Procedures or resolve any conflicting provisions. For resolving conflicts, the Lead may submit a question of the best resolution to a vote of the Sub-Committee members, the results of which may be recorded on the Landing Page.