We’ll show you ours if you show us yours

Summer project, that is.

Applications for the Macktez Summer Stipend — our annual development grant of $1,000 — are now being accepted. For 12 years we’ve been encouraging the creative people we work with to pursue and complete the side project they wish they had more time for.

We know what it’s like to be drawn to an idea that feels so right but requires more time, attention, and funding than is practical. And it occurred to us this year that we shouldn’t ask you to reveal your summer project to us without letting you see what’s captured our imagination at Macktez.

Digital Safe Space

We have been building over the past few months, with great help from a former member of the Team, a new workshop on computer and internet security. Two important trends moved us to take up this work.

First, the threat from hackers is rising. More friends, clients, and presidential campaigns than ever are fending off attempts to break into their digital lives. Many of these attacks are not from sophisticated sci-fi bots that can be defeated by mass computing power, they are personal intrusions called “phishing” that require a combination of digital tools and individual awareness.

Second, the way hacks are often reported is super-scary. Sensational headlines focus on an ongoing threat that feels impossible to deflect. That’s not surprising. Say what you will about the merits of a vibrant free press in our democracy, these are still the same journalists who whip us into a periodic frenzy with horror stories of Africanized Killer Bees (first Texas, next: YOU!).

These hacks and the public response to them trigger a specific Macktez nerve. We spend our days encouraging the use of technology to solve problems. We want clients to be in control of these tools, know their limits, and use them with confidence. In contrast, the public presentation of these phishing scams leaves people feeling vaguely afraid, out of control, and diminished.

Macktez is eager to be part of a more personal conversation about using digital tools safely and securely. Our project is called Digital Safe Space.

Our first workshop is aimed at individuals, especially activists in the LGBTQ movement who are stepping up protest activity after the recent transfer of power in Washington. We review specific security tools that are now readily available, like 2-step authentication and encrypted messaging, so that users understand how to protect themselves. We review legal challenges to mobile phone privacy for protesters. Most important, we make sure that users hone their own situational awareness and skepticism, the same personal tools they use in a crowded public space, and that they don’t react to suspicious emails by panicking.

Our second workshop, in development this summer, moves to the organizational level, and addresses many of the issues we often discuss with clients: developing and enforcing policies that keep an organization’s proprietary digital information and communication safe from hackers, surveillance, bad actors, and error. Again, it’s important that organizations have deliberate security protocols that protect them not just from hacks but also from anxiety about hacks. In a politically-charged environment, activist groups may be a particular target, and they need to have clarity about which digital tools to choose and how to use them.

Summer Stipend 2017

If you are working on a project that’s just as personal for you, and you think $1,000 would help you cross the finish line, we want to hear about it.

The application for our Summer Stipend is pretty simple, and, following the model we use at Macktez, we’ve shared this step-by-step project plan, including recommended deadlines, specific actionable tasks, and time estimates. Applications are due July 22.

We evaluate applications on three simple criteria: originality, relevance, and conviction. Look below for examples of the various projects that have received the Macktez Summer Stipend in years past.

Summer Stipend Application

The deadline is July 22. Use this application worksheet to make sure you prepare your proposal thoughtfully and on time.

If our panelists are moved by the originality and relevance of your application, you’ll receive $1,000 to help you reach the finish line.

Please check your submission carefully prior to hitting the submit button. This information is sent immediately and you will not have the opportunity to review or edit.

You will be notified by email when finalists are selected, and when our 2017 recipient is named.

Ownership: By submitting material you affirm that you are the sole owner of all materials submitted for the Macktez Summer Stipend including but not limited to text, drawings, diagrams, photographs and video.
Permissions: You hereby grant permission for publication of the submitted material for potential use in press releases, presentations, exhibits, history books and similar publications; as well as for public access for student and educational purposes in all media including the Internet.