Shameless Self-Promotion: How the Hive Digital Media Fund Promotes Its Members

Smartphone games and social media didn’t even exist a decade ago, but they’re now a way of life for the average American teenager. To tap into those seven-plus hours that teens spend online each day, one funder collaboration is trying to squeeze education and culture in between tweets and rounds of Words with Friends.

About four years ago, the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund was started by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the New York Community Trust. Since then, the Altman Foundation, the Renate Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, the Mozilla Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and David Rockefeller Fund have kicked in to the fund.

Related: Another Round of Interesting Grants for Digital Learning outside the Classroom

The Fund has awarded approximately $5.7 million in digital media and technology grants to members of Hive NYC. And there lies the catch.

This fund often only awards grants to Hive NYC Members. So if you’re not a member, you’re out of luck. However, there’s a new funding opportunity that allows non-member New York City nonprofits to also get in on the mix.

Right now, Hive is accepting proposals for projects from existing Hive NYC members to create, test, and implement projects for up to $50,000. Non-members can also apply for Hive grants of up to $100,000 for this current cycle. However, these non-member programs must agree to adapt, adopt, remix, or distribute projects originally created by the members of Hive NYC. So in the end, Hive members must still benefit from each grant dollar awarded. There are currently about 50 Hive NYC Members.

Three types of grants are available with this current opportunity: Adventure, Spark, and Catalyst. Adventure and Spark grants are only for Hive members, but the Catalyst grants are where non-member nonprofits come in. But again, there’s a catcha prerequisite, actually. Non-member nonprofits must have either completed a Spark grant for the project or received permission from the fund to apply. This permission only comes upon approval of a one-page project description, which must be submitted by January 16.

Catalyst grants are awarded for up to $100,000 for a period of up to 18 months. Non-member nonprofits should check out the list of digital media programs and tools developed by Hive NYC members to see if any connections can be made.

Ultimately, this collaborative fund is looking to support existing projects, spread them, and scale them. It never hurts to incorporate digital badges, which are online summaries of knowledge and skills acquired through courses, projects, and activities. In the past, Hive has funded projects that take digital learning outside the classroom and into the world to get teens involved in social justice, filmmaking, and environmental preservation.

Related: How the Hive Media Learning Fund is Turning NYC Middle Schoolers into “Pollution Police”

To apply for a Hive grant for the current funding cycle, you’ll first need to submit a one-page proposal concept to by January 16. There will be a 30-minute meeting on January 23 where the staff will provide feedback on what they receive. Grant recipients will be notified of their awards in April. For more information on applying for Hive Digital Media Fund grant, read through the Fund’s Open Request for Proposals document.

Related: How NYCT is Using "Hunger Games" and Skateboarding Culture to Engage Teens