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DEF’s First Grants

The DeFi Education Fund is pleased to announce the first slate of grant recipients, which include a mix of organizations and individuals working to advance policymakers’ understanding of the DeFi ecosystem. The DEF will regularly provide updates on grants and the status of funded proposals.


Conference room table and office chairs; with a city-scape view outside a tall glass window.

As the DEF ramps up its work, the materials and ideas produced by our initial grantees will be used in educational efforts in jurisdictions around the world to advance policymakers’ understanding of decentralized finance, its benefits, and their constituents’ interest in the technology. We are grateful for their contributions to the effort and look forward to funding similarly impactful proposals in the future.

First, we need to develop comprehensive arguments explaining the societal value of DeFi and decentralized governance. Clearly conveying DeFi’s potential to empower individuals everywhere will help convince policymakers that they should care about its future and support its development. Matt Bartlett and Mike Masnick’s team will receive grants to complete projects focused on this effort.

Matt will receive a grant of $5,500 to write a report on how DAOs and the governance structures that control DeFi protocols are systematically different from traditional structures in the financial system like LLCs and trusts. Matt is an independent technology consultant with a practice focused on communicating emerging technology research to traditional financial institutions. Matt’s piece will draw out the different ways in which DeFi, as an ecosystem built of DAOs, enables social mobility and the empowerment of individuals on a scale fundamentally different to anything seen in traditional finance. The ideas in Matt’s report will serve as a pillar of effective advocacy in jurisdictions around the world.

Mike and his team will receive a grant of $50,000 to conduct research, write a report, and create supporting materials explaining the value of a more decentralized internet and decentralized finance, ecosystems in which power is pushed out to the ends of the network rather than the center. The thought leadership project will thoroughly explore the role that decentralized finance can play in the move towards a more competitive and more distributed future. See Mike’s essay “Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech” for an example of his writings on a related topic.

In addition to clearly articulating the benefits of DeFi to a range of policymaking audiences, we need to produce accessible conduits to deliver that information. Diversity in Blockchain (DiB), a non-profit organization committed to creating equal, open and inclusive opportunities in the blockchain industry, will receive a $50,000 grant to create a series of animated explainer videos to showcase the benefits — like those that will be comprehensively evidenced in Mike’s and Matt’s projects — that DeFi is bringing to the world at large. Susan Joseph will head up this effort at DiB.

Finally, we need to develop a better understanding of people’s interest in and understanding of DeFi. Robust polling data about constituents’ interest in an issue can make it clear to elected officials the level of awareness and perception of DeFi in their states and districts. To date, the public’s attitude towards DeFi has not been comprehensively studied. It can also help the DEF and its partners understand points of misunderstanding or concern that we can create educational programs to address. Future Majority, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, will receive a $90,000 grant to conduct three polls studying public perceptions of DeFi and crypto in key regions: 1) 37 Congressional Districts decided by +/- 5 percentage points in the 2020 Election, 2) Ohio, and 3) New York City. Congressional swing districts are politically important and sometimes define the “middle ground” of the country’s voting spectrum. Having an understanding of where these voters stand on crypto issues will help drive policymaking narratives and discussions. Similarly, Ohio is a swing state, and members of Congress in key positions for DeFi policymaking represent the state. Finally, voters in New York City often act as a bellwether on political debates, and several members of the House Financial Services Committee hail from New York’s congressional delegation.

If you have an idea for a project that can help educate policymakers about DeFi or advocate for policies welcoming of DeFi and decentralized governance, apply for a grant from the DEF. If you have any questions, advice, or would like to discuss these grantees or the application process, please feel free to reach Miller on twitter @millercwl or via email at miller@defieducationfund.org to set up a time to chat.