Update on 8 Apr 2019: We received our 501(c)(3) approval letter today! This allows tax-deductible donations from US taxpayers. It is an important step for the foundation.

Original post: We are pleased to announce the launch of the Decentralization Foundation, with a mission of promoting decentralizing technology, educating the world on its potential, and funding relevant scientific research. The foundation will raise donations and fund projects and communities that are consistent with the mission.

Why create the Decentralization Foundation? We want to build a community that is passionate about decentralization and is also willing to learn from others. We want to educate this community and others on the underlying technology, including its potential and its limitations. We want to fund scientific projects to improve the technology and society that would otherwise not be funded.

What will the foundation do?

The first focus of the foundation is to support community organizations and events by funding venues, meetup.com fees, and food for events. We will support groups focused on basic decentralized technology, as well as organizations and events focused on specific systems such as cryptocurrencies. We also plan to fund documentation of decentralized systems with the goal of making the technology more accessible to beginners. We are also happy to fund community events which include criticism of the decentralized technologies above. We will promote discussion of decentralization, economics, and social stability. We have already funded a small number of events, including an event on decompiling smart contracts, and another on formal verification of smart contracts.

One barrier to adoption of decentralized technologies is education. The second focus of the foundation is to develop and fund courses on important decentralized technologies such as hashes, Merkle trees, basic cryptography, and distributed consensus. We will also fund classes on systems such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, IPFS, and Circles, and finally courses on economics. We will promote a culture of critical thinking as a part of all curriculum.

The final focus of the foundation will be on funding scientific research. We have already given a small grant to the Kestrel Institute which we will describe in a subsequent blog post.

Who are you? What are your goals?

I am Chris Peel, the president of the foundation. Steve Waldman is secretary and treasurer. Elaine Ou is a member of the board; Steve and I are also on the board. Jeff Flowers is vice president. See the foundation website for longer bios. These are smart, wonderful people; it is a privilege to work with and be educated by them.

Our long-term goal with the foundation is to grow the decentralization-focused community. We are happy to work with big, well-established meetups, conferences, etc…; even more than this we would like to build communities and provide education in areas where there is none available at present.

We acknowledge a long history of thinkers who have emphasized the value of decentralization; for example Tocqueville said:

Decentralization has, not only an administrative value, but also a civic dimension, since it increases the opportunities for citizens to take interest in public affairs; it makes them get accustomed to using freedom.

“Democracy in America”, Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840, Saunders and Otley (London)

We recognize that we are building on Tocqueville and many others who contributed to the discussion of decentralization in government, finance, ideology and more. Despite the breadth of work on decentralization, the foundation is focused on technology, specifically the use of cryptography, blockchains, and incentives to build decentralized organizations. Steve will talk more about the word “decentralization” in a subsequent post.

Looking ahead

We have applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) non-profit status in the US; if this is approved we will be able to accept tax-deductible donations. We are optimistic that our application will be approved.

Finally, we are happy to announce a new round of grants; we are accepting applications now for small ($300-$3000) grants with a focus on community groups and meetups. Applications will close April 28. Please apply or donate!