UKFSN Profits Programme
After much thought on how best to honour the promise that all UKFSN profits will go to fund UK Free Software projects I have decided on the programme for this.
Originally the plan had been to pay the profits to the Association For Free Software and have them distribute the money in the form of grants.
Unfortunately this has not worked very well as AFFS only received 1 acceptable application so only £250 was distributed.
After discussing the matter with members of AFFS and with UKFSN users I have concluded that the best way to distribute the profits UKFSN is making is to do so directly.
In deciding how to do this I considered how many of the most well known authors of and contributors to Free Software got started. Pretty much every such person started contributing to the world of Free Software while they were a student (either at or before joining University).
With this in mind I have decided that UKFSN will use its profits to fund students who are active in the Free Software commnities.
For the funding to be worthwhile it needs to be enough that each funded student, as a result of the funding, is able to concentrate time and effort on his or her Free Software contributions. I've been advised that formal scholarship is not the best way to do this as the money ends up with the acedemic institute rather than the student. I have therefore decided to offer fixed term part-time "employment" from UKFSN with the job being defined as "writing or contributing to Free Software projects".
By paying each funded student an amount sufficient to cover basic living expenses UKFSN can free them up from the worry of having to work in a less than wonderful job to meet their needs.
I intend to offer an annual income of £4680.00 rising to £4800.00 from September 2007 with modest increases thereafter. This level of income can be paid without the student having to pay any income tax or NI as it is below the earnings threshold.
I propose to begin in January 2007 with a single student. Assuming UKFSN sees growth inline with growth predictions (so far UKFSN has experienced growth 2-3 times the predicted level so I've amended the model a little) it should be possible to increase this number to 3 students from September 2007 and then to 5 from September 2008 rising to 15 students from September 2009 by which time I expect it should be possible to pay about £5000 per year.
I've budgeted to supply the employed student with a dedicated ADSL connection from UKFSN as well as an income.
Update:The first student to benefit from this programme has already been selected. He is an established contributor to Ubuntu and maintains a general backup utility while also supporting several other Free Software activities. More details will be announced shortly.