Grants healthy digital public sphere

Our grantee partners

Civitates supported the organisations listed below that are working actively towards improving the digital information ecosystem in Europe. The projects ran between April 2019 and October 2020.

In January 2020, the Opportunity Fund was set-up to increase the capacity of Civitates grantee partners to anticipate new challenges ahead and their readiness to address them, by providing additional funding to address critical and emerging issues that intersect with their work. The projects supported under the Opportunity Fund can be found here.

AlgorithmWatch is a non-profit research and advocacy organisation that evaluates and sheds light on algorithmic decision making processes that have a social relevance. This project seeks to identify the negative effects intermediaries have on the public discourse and engage European civil society and other stakeholders in a participatory design process to develop a combination of governance proposals and technical tools these effects.  The latter will be fed into EU and Member States’ policy processes. The ultimate goal is to preserve a public discourse that enables and supports the deliberative processes necessary for a democracy to function properly.
Grant amount: € 185 300

BIRN Hub, an umbrella organisation of NGOs promoting freedom of speech, human rights and democratic values, partners with Share Foundation (Serbia) to determine who are the main players related to disinformation and propaganda in the Southern and Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia) through the establishment of the Digital Monitoring database, continuous monitoring of digital threats and reporting on digital freedom violations. The project entails training for digital monitors, design and launch of the Digital Monitoring database, publishing of cross-regional report and five regional investigations, stakeholder meetings and a final conference for promoting the cross-regional report.
Grant amount: € 130 800

The Centre for the Study of Democracy is a non-partisan, independent think-tank dedicated to the values of democracy and market economy and fostering the reform process through impact on policy and civil society. Through this project, it aims at improving the digital information ecosystem by examining the differential challenge of and ability to tackle state-driven disinformation in Western and Central-Eastern Europe. The project will focus on Russian disinformation tactics in several European countries. CSD will coordinate research with the partners in different countries, provide them with a technical tool to track online disinformation narratives and compile the comparative analysis in a guidebook for policy makers to address the issues. The findings of the project will be disseminated to policy makers and key institutions such as NATO to feed into the policy debate.
Grant amount: € 116 500

Democracy Reporting International (DRI) is a non-partisan, independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes political participation of citizens, accountability of state bodies and the development of democratic institutions world-wide. They partner with MEMO98 for a project that seeks to significantly step up real-time understanding of social media dynamics by providing a toolkit for social media monitoring in elections which is to be offered to observer organisations across the EU and beyond. The toolkit includes providing tools and up-to-date information to monitor influence of social media during elections, a checklist for a systematic monitoring of social media in elections, providing the basis for responsive advocacy and long-term advocacy for better regulation.
Grant amount: € 170 700

EDRi is an umbrella organisation of NGOs that defend rights and freedoms in the digital environment. Through this project it addresses the current political demands for a ‘one-size fits all’ response to the challenges of the digital information ecosystem, consisting in internet companies imposing arbitrary restrictions on content online, arguing that this approach is counterproductive for purported policy goals and violates basic principles of human rights. EDRi will advocate for alternative, more effective and less intrusive solutions, engage civil society organisations and other affected groups and raise awareness of the fundamental rights aspects of this approach.
Grant amount: € 100 300

The European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is a non-profit organisation supporting democracy worldwide. The project aims to strengthen European level policy that guarantees transparency in digital political advertising. Activities will be divided into three parts: 1) national level research 2) multi-stakeholder policy dialogue events, and 3) coalition-based monitoring and advocacy. In exchange with civil society representatives and digital activists, the project will conduct research on transparency measures taken by online platforms. This will serve as a starting point for evidence-based dialogue, engaging a wider range of relevant actors, including policy makers. A consensus-oriented ‘Roadmap for Policy Change’ will structure coalition-based advocacy efforts.
Grant amount: € 118 000

Panoptykon Foundation is a non-profit that protects fundamental rights and freedoms in the context of fast-changing technologies and growing surveillance. This project will look into the scale and impact of political micro targeting in Poland and how it is fed in the news and shape the political agenda. It seeks to deliver evidence that will inform European policy makers to the risks that non-transparent, targeted political marketing on platforms represents for public discourse. The activities will cover research (data collection, analysis), awareness-raising, civic engagement and advocacy towards policy makers, using the Polish parliamentary elections (autumn 2019) as main testing ground.
Grant amount: € 97 700

The Oxford Internet Institute, a department of the University of Oxford, works on research into the causes, consequences, and policy solutions for misinformation in Europe. Through this project, OII will track misinformation campaigns during the 2019 European Parliamentary elections, research the misinformation campaigns targeting Russian speaking communities who live within Europe and provide regular consultations to European institutions and organizations on the wider ecosystem of misinformation. The Civitates grant allows it to deepen its research capacity, provide the flexibility to investigate changing technologies, and sustain relationships with the European institutions and organizations that depend on OII for insight. It will also step up its capacity to track misinformation in the form of fake video content on YouTube and misinformation on encrypted chat platforms like WhatsApp.
Grant amount: € 175 700

Who Targets Me provides software tools for individuals to learn more about the ads they see, data and interpretation for journalists and researchers to report on trends and misuse, and recommendations for regulators looking to ensure the integrity of the democratic process.

This project seeks to:

  1. further develop its transparency tools and increase the number of people using it to create high quality national and comparative datasets about the use of these ads in contemporary campaigns
  2. map and engage with other civil society groups and researchers working on issues around targeted political digital advertising in Europe
  3. develop and publish a ‘gold standard’ regulatory proposal with respect to the use of targeted political digital ads in Europe to act as an ‘off the shelf’ option for policy makers wishing to regulate their use and
  4. engage relevant institutional stakeholders in discussions about the implementation of our recommended regulations.


Grant amount: € 146 000