The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has officially launched an unprecedented Grant Program, committing up to $10 million in funding towards projects aimed at bolstering the resilience and interoperability of the Internet on a global scale. This initiative represents a strategic effort by ICANN to address the widening digital divide, with an estimated 3.2 billion people worldwide currently without Internet access.

Bridging the digital divide

The advent of digital platform business models is forecasted by the World Economic Forum to generate 70% of new economic value over the next decade. Despite this potential, a significant portion of the global population remains disconnected from the digital world, thus missing out on the manifold benefits these platforms can offer. ICANN’s Grant Program seeks to remedy this by supporting innovative projects that foster an open, robust, and globally connected Internet.

Fostering innovation and inclusion

Sally Costerton, Interim President and CEO of ICANN, emphasized the critical role of the Internet in modern life and the importance of making it accessible and beneficial to all, particularly in underserved regions. The Grant Program is designed to encourage creativity and innovation in enhancing the Internet’s unique identifier systems, with a strong focus on projects that promote diversity, participation, and inclusion across different communities and regions.

Application and selection process

The application window for the Grant Program is now open and will run until May 24, 2024. ICANN has detailed its selection criteria, prioritizing proposals that aim to advance innovation, uphold open standards, and contribute to the development and evolution of the Internet’s foundational systems. A comprehensive Applicant Guide is available on the ICANN website, providing potential applicants with necessary information on eligibility and submission requirements. The successful applicants will be announced in January 2025.


With the launch of its Grant Program, ICANN is taking a significant step towards realizing a more inclusive, diverse, and resilient global Internet. This initiative not only aims to bridge the digital divide but also to ensure that the evolving landscape of the Internet remains a space of opportunity for innovation and collaboration across all regions of the world.