[Special Voting Cycle #9a]: Grants Council

As outlined in Guide to Season 3: Course Correcting, the current Governance Fund grants process faces significant challenges. Luckily, there is a lot of room for optimization. Some goals for Season 3 include:

  • creating a more streamlined and consistent process for proposers
  • setting a pace for grant distributions
  • defining a clear scope, with clear differentiation from Partner Fund
  • creating accountability via smaller grant sizes and milestone-based distributions
  • reducing the workload on delegates so that they have more time to weigh in on high impact votes, better positioning the grants process within the broader responsibilities of Token House governance

In Season 2, the Token House experimented with multiple committees, which made non-binding recommendations on proposals within their domain. While committees reduced the workload on non-committee delegates, they introduced new challenges:

  • voting cycles became increasingly complex
  • proposers became even more confused as they received conflicting recommendations from multiple committees
  • multiple committees vying for power created a dynamic that negatively impacted culture, made worse by the lack of enforceable delegate code of conduct
  • there weren’t appropriate checks on committee power, including a clear mechanism to remove committee members mid-Season
  • several large delegates were prevented from voting for committees due to third-party application errors, which impacted the perceived legitimacy of elections

These challenges are related to specific committee design choices rather than the organizational structure itself. Instead of continuing committees into Season 3, we propose experimenting with a Grants Council to overcome many committee challenges while helping achieve the goals of Season 3.

If this proposal passes:

  • In Season 3, Governance Fund grants process will be managed by a Grants Council. The Grants Council will be comprised of 1 Lead and 8 Reviewers and will have full decision making authority as to which grants are made.
  • Non-Council delegates will no longer vote on each grant proposal. Instead, they will elect Council members and, if the Council continues in future Seasons, approve the Council budget. Throughout the Season, non-Council delegates will serve the important role of working with proposers to refine proposals deemed unfit for review by the Council, providing oversight on the Council, and voting on other proposal types, such as protocol upgrades. There will be a multitude of other activities non-Council delegates will be responsible for in the near future.
  • Council members will be subject to the following checks on their authority:
    • All Council members will be subject to the Delegate Code of Conduct and may be suspended from the Council at any point during the Season via Token House vote.
    • All Reviewers will be subject to re-election if they wish to be a Reviewer for an additional Season (provided the Council were to be approved to continue beyond S3). Term limits may be added in the future, should the Council continue for multiple Seasons.
    • A high degree of transparency will be required of Council operations so that non-Council Token Holders are able to provide effective oversight.

Council Structure

If approved, there will be 1 Council, comprised of 2 sub-committees. Each sub-committee will have a clear mandate and be tied to a specific grant objective. Sub-committees will be encouraged to create Requests For Proposals (RFPs) to incentivize well-aligned grant applications. At the end of Season 3, the Token House will have the chance to evaluate, re-approve, or modify the two sub-committees.

  • Builders Sub-Committee:
    • Goal: maximize the number of developers building on Optimism
    • Non-goal: retroactive funding
    • Possible RPFs: prospective builder grants for new projects, hackathons, technical content
    • Format: proposers receive grants, suggested to be <50k OP, which are locked for a period of 1-year. If access to upfront capital is a blocker for applicants, Optimism may put them in touch with alternative resources to support teams in this position.
    • Budget: 850k OP / Season
    • Reviewers: 3 (see below)
    • Consensus: 2/3 vote required to fund a grant
  • Growth Experiments Sub-Committee:
    • Goal: maximize the number of users interacting with applications on Optimism
    • Non-goal: retroactive airdrops
    • Possible RFPs: small-scale liquidity mining experiments, usage incentives, user education
    • Format: proposers receive milestone-based grants, suggested to be <250k OP, to pass on directly to their users as incentives for engaging with a protocol, platform, product or service. 40% of the grant will be distributed to the proposer upfront and the remaining 60% will be distributed upon completion of a mid-way point milestone. Completion of all milestones should be achievable in 3-6 months.
    • Budget: 4M OP / Season
    • Reviewers: 5 (see below)
    • Consensus: 3/5 vote required to fund a grant

Council Responsibilities

All Council members will be required to abide by the Delegate Code of Conduct. All Council members will be required to disclose all anticipated conflicts of interest when applying to serve on the Council and all actual conflicts of interest in all written voting rationale where a conflict is present.

  • The Grants Council will:

    • filter and process all grant applications. All grant applicants should receive feedback, even if it will not proceed to Council review. If a proposal does not proceed to Council review, a brief reasoning for this decision should be included in a public response to the grant applicant and proposers should work with non-Council delegates to refine their proposal for re-submission in the next grant cycle.
    • approve grants in regular cycles, which include a deadline for proposal submission before a review period begins (previous Seasons followed 3 week cycles)
    • publish a report outlining grant decisions for all reviewed proposals (both approvals and rejections) within 3 days of the end of each cycle
    • assess whether grantees have meet pre-defined milestones
    • publish periodic milestone updates, as applicable
    • ensure ongoing Council operations and performance are transparent to the community
  • The Council Lead will oversee the general administration of the grants program and should:

    • ensure applications that are submitted to the Council database are also published to the Forum
    • provision and/or maintain external and internal information about the grants program, and any other resources needed by the Council
    • facilitate coordination across sub-committees by scheduling and hosting regular Council meetings. It is suggested that meeting minutes or summaries be made available to the community. Open meetings are encouraged.
    • monitor progress towards milestones and run a process to ensure milestones have been met before milestone-based distributions are made (possibly via a system similar to Radicle’s)
    • prepare regular reports to communicate grant decisions at the end of each cycle and periodic reports to communicate milestone updates from grantees
    • submit budget/renewal proposals at the end of the Season, if applicable
    • exercise decision-making authority in the event that sub-committees cannot come to consensus on an administrative or operational matter
    • commit to spend roughly 30 hours per week on these responsibilities
  • Reviewers will vote on grant proposals submitted to their sub-committees and should:

    • have the subject matter expertise required to evaluate advanced proposals. It is recommended that at least one member of each sub-committee have a technical background
    • be accessible to grant applicants - within reason - to provide feedback, answer questions, and respond to comments. This should be done via public communication channels whenever possible. It should be clear to grant applicants how to get in touch with the Council
    • work with proposers to ensure proposed milestones are clear, measurable, and achievable within the specified timeframe
    • maintain a participation rate >70% on Council votes
    • document voting rationale for each grant
    • provide any information required to publish regular reports and periodic updates in a timely manner
    • commit to spend roughly 12 hours a week on these responsibilities

While the Council should abide by the above guidelines, specific operational and administrative details are left to the Council Lead to determine with input from Reviewers. The Council, if/once formed, will be expected to publish an operating framework outlining Council operations in detail. The Season will run nine weeks from the publication of the operating framework. In future Seasons, this framework may be included in Council proposals, which would make it subject to approval by the Token House.

Council Membership

All Grants Council members will receive rewards for their work, which will be allocated from the Council’s 5M OP budget.

  • Lead
    • The Foundation will select the initial Council Lead (which is an administrative, non-voting role) via an open application process
    • If the Council continues in subsequent Seasons, the Foundation may hire a full time contributor to fill this role
    • The Council Lead will be compensated 35,000 OP per Season
  • Builders Sub-Committee:
    • 3 elected delegates (there is no minimum voting power requirement)
      • Delegates may self-nominate using the template found here
    • Reviewers will each be compensated 14,000 OP per Season
  • Growth Experiments Sub-Committee:
    • 5 elected delegates (there is no minimum voting power requirement)
      • Delegates may self-nominate using the template found here
    • Reviewers will be compensated 14,000 OP per Season

Council Budget

The Council budget for Season 3 will be 5M OP. Should the Council operate in subsequent Seasons, the budget will be approved by the Token House on a Seasonal basis. As a result, this budget may fluctuate up or down each Season. For more information, please see the Gov Fund Charter.

Ecosystem grants will continue to be disbursed by the Foundation, meaning the Council will not operate its own multi-sig wallet at this time. Any budgeted OP that is not distributed at the end of the Season will remain in the Governance Fund.

Implementation and Administration

In Season 3, the Foundation will provide administrative services to the Council consistent with the services described in the Operating Manual. This includes reviewing and approving (in its discretion) Council operating expenses for reimbursement, conducting a KYC process on all grant recipients, and administering the multi-sig wallet for grant disbursements. In future Seasons, the Council may control its own multi-sig as the Foundation increasingly decentralizes its role.

You can view discussions on the original draft of this proposal here


Hello Optimists :red_circle: :slight_smile:

Congratulations for all the work put into this initiative. It’s quite exciting to imagine the potential formation of the future Grants Council and its future impact.

It is quite the challenge to ensure efficient capital allocation in a grants program, especially in web3 because inclusiveness is a core value and many will use that to extract. For the last year and a half I was a grant reviewer at Gitcoin DAO and also lead the decentralized Grant eligibility team there for three seasons. After reviewing over 3000 projects the least I can say is that we and encountered a spectrum of types of extractive behaviors, grant emulations and even hybrid sybil attacks combined with eligibility breaches. Grants that emulate real projects are most def an issue in web3 and the issue is more complex than most people would believe imho.

The Grants Council has quite the responsability and from what I understand, it’s kinda the oversight board for the future public good projects on Optimism and will possibly strive to ensure a credible neutral grants program on Optimism. Unfortunately in this red team-blue team scenario, the blue team is always behind in a way while the red team(people, orgs and in the future even nations)that want to extract $) is constantly aware of what the blue team(GC/Optimism in this case) is preparing and adapts its strategies accordingly…

I am not an expert in the field but I do have some pieces of advice for the GC:

-one way to combat the red team is to ensure a decentralized committee(Grants Council), this way the interests cannot mix
-a streamlined process always helps when it comes to grant reviewing
-documentation needs to be concise, but not overly detailed to ensure that the auditors of the GC can quickly understand what’s going on
-for maximum credible neutrality:
-It would be best if the people on the GC would not know each other prior to the formation of the GC
-It would be best if the people that do know each other be placed in different committees

Web3 anti-fraud/efficient capital allocation work is kinda close to my IKIGAI, but I still need to learn the abcs of how Optimism reviews these grant applications and the eligibility criteria. Personally I would love to help the Council achieve its goals and help out.


An important part of this journey is continuous experimentation, and this is an indication of Optimism’s willingness to grow.

There should be retroactive compensation for non-council delegate members who get involved by supporting failed proposals. This can discussion can happen after S3 concludes but I thought it’s worth mentioning since some members have been contributing without any compensation.


Thanks for raising this point, that’s the plan, outlined here: Retroactive Delegate Rewards for Season 1 & 2

“In Season 3, rewards will be pre-defined for all Council positions, if the Grants Council is approved. All other delegate rewards will continue to be allocated retroactively.”


Awesome, glad to see that. I forgot about that; thanks for reminding me!


Yes, there is not “right way” when it comes to financing public goods and ensuring efficient capital allocation in web3 is quite the challenge.

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I am not totally sure such a council is the best way forward but we can try and see. It’s an experiment after all.

Happy to see some feedback incorporated from previous iterations.

Edit: Voted for


I think it is a great idea actually, its much more akin to the traditional way grants get approved by 99% of grants programs in the default world. A few qualified people (hopefully our crew will be qualified) get paid to dedicate hours towards reviewing applicants and just make the final call.

Having a season that follows the traditional approach can be compared to the committees approach and maybe we can build a more experimental approach in Season 4 that can take the best of both worlds.

The best thing about this proposal is a strict budget!

One question though, @system how long is a “season” expected to be? 3 months? 6?


so, there is no further language elaborating on guidelines and restrictions for this?

can a delegate vote for themselves? can delegates that have known comradery and connections all vote for eachother?

oh i see its in the nomination template…“Nominees may not vote for themselves.” and delegates can vote for as many nominees as they see fit, got it. might have been good to include than language here as well but none the less glad i found that.

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seasons will be nine weeks iirc


This is an interesting proposal, and as always, we appreciate hearing new proposals which attempt to solve governance pain points. We don’t think this proposal as is is in the best interest of governance as a whole, since it centralizes decision making significantly. We recognize (and have felt) several of the pain points described in Guide to Season 3: Course Correcting and think Delegate Overload & Proposer Frustration are especially relevant here. We also believe an elected committee could be highly beneficial in the grants process.

We feel that to reduce these two pain points, it would be more beneficial to have the committee be one phase of the grant approval process. The process could look like this:

  1. Grants Committee does first pass on grant requests and provides sufficient feedback on a tight feedback loop for proposers.
  2. A proposal passes this phase by Grants Committee approval (by a vote or having specific members endorse the proposal)
  3. At the point the proposal becomes final and is up for general governance vote.

We believe this would significantly reduce Delegate Overload by requiring delegates to read through a reduced number of high quality proposals. It could also reduce Proposer Frustration because proposers will be engaged with and receive feedback early from a small, credible group of folks.


Voted For
Happy to see us experiment with different models.

Snapshot vote - passed

1 Like

Continuing the discussion from [Special Voting Cycle #9a]: Grants Council:

感谢你们的付出, 我很赞同

I love the transparency here. Kudos

Too long to complete.

Looks like Optimism is ready to grow. Fantastic!

What a paste =)) Паста то что надо