Grants Council: Internal Operating Procedures

The Grants Council has developed a set of procedures designed to provide proposers and the community with clarity as to how grants will be processed, visibility into the decision-making processes, and efficient management of proposals. The Internal Procedures, posted to the Grants Council landing page, are reproduced here for the community. The Grants Council will continue to review its procedures through the course of Cycle 10 in order to consider any improvements for Cycle 11.

All deadlines are 19:00 GMT on the date specified.

Proposers may go directly to the Grants Council Landing Page to learn how to apply.

Internal Procedures - Governing

The internal procedures in this document govern the activities of both 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 sections that follow.

Submission Period - Procedure

  • During the Submission Period, applicants will be able to submit proposals through the Applications form.

  • The Submission Period will last one week, ending on:

    • Cycle 10: February 1, 2023
    • Cycle 11: March 8, 2023
  • During the Submission Period, the Council will have two objectives: (1) finalize Sub-Committee review rubrics and (2) begin reviewing applications.

    • Objective 1 - Finalize Sub-Committee Review Rubrics

      • The Sub-Committees will publish final review rubrics by the last day of the Submission Period of Cycle 10.
      • For Cycle 11, the Sub-Committees will publish any amendments to their review rubrics by the end of the Submission Period of Cycle 11.
    • Objective 2 - Begin Reviewing Applications

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

Review Period - Procedure

  • The Review Period will last two weeks, culminating with the publication of a list of proposals to be voted on by the Council for final review. The Review Period will end:

    • Cycle 10: February 15, 2023
    • Cycle 11: March 22, 2023
  • The Review Period has three objectives: (1) complete Intake Filter; (2) Complete Preliminary Review; (3) Publish list of proposals to be reviewed for Final Review.

  • Objective 1 - Intake Filter

    • Intake Filter is a preliminary review to assess the adequacy of proposals. This process begins during the Submissions Period and continues for the first week of the Review Period.

    • To begin the Intake Filter process, the Grants Council lead will assign proposals submitted prior to the end of the Submission Period to Sub-Committee members in sequential order. Applications will be reviewed in order of the time of submission (first to last).

    • The assigned member will conduct a Submissions Period Review, as described below.

      • For each assigned proposal, the member will review the proposal to assign a score of “0” or “1”.

        • A score of “0” means reject. The score indicates that a proposal fails to provide key information, does not satisfy proposal template requirements, or otherwise exhibits a deficiency that requires resubmission or rejection.
        • A score of “1” means review. The score indicates that the proposal satisfies the information requirements of the proposal form and has a reasonable chance to receive a grant, provided that there are clarifications or greater proof of concept.
      • For any proposal that is marked “0,” the reviewer must specify the grounds for rejection. The reviewer can tag the application as:

        • Incomplete: the application is incomplete or does not provide sufficient information to key questions.
        • Deficient-Clarify: the application does not provide answers sufficient for the reviewer to assess whether to include the application in the Cycle’s Review Period.
        • Deficient-Reject*: the application does not provide answers sufficient to assess whether to include the application in the list of proposals that will be reviewed in the current Cycle’s Review Period and based on the information in the application, it is unlikely the project would successfully receive a grant.
        • Other: the application is unlikely to receive a grant for another reason that includes a reasonable explanation from the reviewer.
    • Reviewers must provide commentary that elaborates on the grounds for rejection. For instance, if an application is Incomplete, the reviewer must specify where the application is incomplete. Reviewers should provide commentary on how a proposal may be improved.

    • The Council Lead will create 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 with the publication of the Review List at the end of the Review Period.

    • Proposers whose applications are rejected on the grounds of Deficient-Clarify or Other may be encouraged to work with Token House delegates to refine the proposal for submission in the following Cycle.

  • Objective 2 - Preliminary Review

    • Upon the completion of the Intake Filter, but no later than the end of the first week of the Review Period, the Grants Lead will communicate to each Sub-Committee the number of applications that passed Intake Review. The Grants Lead will also include an assignment of each proposal to a reviewer.

    • All proposals must receive a Preliminary Review at least two days prior to the end of the Review Period. For Season 3, the Review deadlines will be:

      • Cycle 10: February 13, 2023
      • Cycle 11: March 20, 2023
    • Review Criteria and Proposer Communications

      • A reviewer will complete an assessment form for each proposal they review. The Grants Council 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 in each Sub-Committee landing page: Builders Sub-Committee and Growth Experiments Sub-Committee.

      • As part of the review, the reviewer may identify any aspects of a proposal that, if clarified or refined, may lead to a meaningful improvement in the outcome for the proposer and / or the accountability of the proposer to the Optimism community through milestone refinement.

        • After identifying areas that may be improved, the reviewer may invite the proposer to a call to refine parts of the application. The reviewer will summarize any call in #grants-council.

        • In order to permit a refining statement, the reviewer must send specific questions to the proposer and post those questions in #grants-council.

        • A refining statement may only address the specific questions posed in the reviewer’s written communication.

        • Any refining statement must be received by the second-to-last day of the Review Period. For Season 3, refining statements will be due on:

          • Cycle 10: February 14, 2023
          • Cycle 11: March 22, 2023
        • Upon receiving a refining statement, the reviewer may include a comment to Sub-Committee explaining how the reviewer would change the assigned score in light of the refining statement. The statement does not change the score recorded, but may inform the Sub-Committee’s deliberations during the Decision Period. This statement will be referred to as a Score Update.

    • The reviewer for Proposal Review must be different from the reviewer for Intake Filter review.

  • Objective 3 - Determination and Publication of Review List

    • On the last day of the Review Period, each Sub-Committee will vote, for each proposal refinement, whether to adopt Score Updates. Each update will be voted on and approved by a simple majority vote of the Sub-Committee.

    • Immediately, thereafter a final list of scores will be provided to the Sub-Committees for the adoption of a Proposals List.

    • The Proposals List will be determined as follows:

      • The Builders Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of 16 or higher. Up to a maximum of 10 applications will receive grants.
      • The Growth Experiments Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of 16 or higher.
    • Each Sub-Committee may vote to review a proposal that does not meet the cutoff, provided that a member other than the most recent reviewer motions to include the proposal and a simple majority of the Sub-Committee vote to approve the proposal.

    • The Grants Council Lead will publish the Grant Review Roundup at the end of the Review Period. The Lead will also publish explanations for proposal rejections. The publication dates for Season 3 will be:

      • Cycle 10 Grant Review Roundup: February 15, 2023
      • Cycle 11 Grant Review Roundup: March 22, 2023

Decision Period - Procedure

  • During the Decision Period, the Sub-Committees will deliberate on proposals and decide which proposals to approve for grants. During the Deliberation Week, Sub-Committee members have two objectives: (1) rank proposals and (2) decide final grants list.

  • Objective 1 - Proposal Ranking

    • 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.
    • The Grants Council Lead will send a summary of the Sub-Committee reviewers’ scores, including an average score for each project prior to the second week for the Decision Period. The forms and average score calculation will be made available to the community along with the publication of grant decisions.
  • Objective 2 - Decide Final Grants List

    • 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 final grantees by selecting the proposals with the highest mean score from the Proposal Ranking in descending order. The Sub-Committees will choose the maximum number of grantees possible such that the cumulative grant awards do not exceed the Sub-Committee’s budget for the Cycle.
    • If the cumulative amount granted by the method above is lower than the Sub-Committee’s grants budget for the Cycle, the Sub-Committee may choose to allocate the surplus to the next highest-ranking proposal or to reserve the surplus for a later Cycle. The Sub-Committee should only allocate the surplus to the next highest proposer if, after communicating with the proposer, the Sub-Committee determines that the proposer may accomplish the goals of the proposal with a lower grant amount.
    • Each Sub-Committee will collaborate on final grants communications to be made to the grantees and to the Optimism community.

Final Grant Communications

Based on the input of the Sub-Committees, the Grants Council Lead will communicate the results to the proposers and post the results to the Governance Forum within three days of the end of the Cycle. The Grants Committee lead will update the grants tracker and populate a public portal for tracking milestones for successful grants.

Official Record and Rule Changes

  • The Council Lead will publish the result of any Sub-Committee votes to the Governance Forum, including the individual votes of the Sub-Committee members. The votes will be presumed to be valid unless a Sub-Committee member challenges the posted result within 24 hours of posting. If a Sub-Committee member challenges the recording of their own vote, the Sub-Committee members will post their votes on the Governance Forum and the votes recorded by their posts will be considered authoritative.
  • The Council Lead will maintain a tracker of grants considered, grants made, milestones for grants, and the progress / completion of milestones.
  • 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 simple majority vote of the members of both Sub-Committees (provided that any vote to amend the rubric comports with procedures described above). Any amendment must be published to the Governance Forum. 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.

Milestone Completion and Accountability Review

During Cycle 10, the Grants Council and Sub-Committees will develop standards to determine milestone completion as well as other accountability measures. As standards are developed, the Grants Council Lead will post the standards to the Governance Forum.

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 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 in #grants-council and on the Governance Forum.

Hey everyone! I made a simplified roadmap for anyone to use. cheers!


Would be great to add this to the application landing page as well!


Good Idea, I’ll remove the Cycle 11 dates in case something changes and send it to Dane as a png to add it


Please note that the following edits will be made to this post based on Sub-Committee votes:

Original Text

  • The Builders Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of [16] or higher, up to a maximum of [25] applications. [Note: The numbers in this provision will be adapted to each Sub-Committee immediately after each Sub-Committee adopts its rubric].

  • The Growth Experiments Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of [12] or higher up to a maximum of [15] applications. [Note: The numbers in this provision will be adapted to each Sub-Committee immediately after each Sub-Committee adopts its rubric]

New Text

  • The Builders Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of 16 or higher. Up to a maximum of 10 applications will receive grants.

  • The Growth Experiments Sub-Committee will review each application with a score of 16 or higher.

1 Like

Note that both Sub-Committees have provided proposers with an opportunity to amend their applications by Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 at 19:00 GMT to account for the parameters that apply to the different types of grants for Season 3 (e.g., grant size, no sale rule for Growth Experiments, and 1 year lock-up for Builders grants, appropriate form for Season 3 grants).

More resources are available in the summary of the Feb 3 AMA call.

1 Like

Note that for Cycle 11, the following changes apply:

For both the Builders and Growth Experiments Sub-Committees, the Final Grants List will be determined based on the Proposal Ranking. Each Sub-Committee will choose “n,” where “n” is the number of grants from the Proposal Ranking such that 1-n that will receive final grants.

Note that the Builders Sub-Committee has updated its Rubric, as shown on the Sub-Committee’s landing page.

Note that for Cycle 11, the Preliminary Review deadline has been extended to March 27 (19:00pm ET). The list of proposers who have passed to the Final Review will be published on the forum on that date. The amendment was approved by both sub-committees in recognition of the fact that the deadline for submissions was extended by one week for Cycle 11.