Since 2007, the ICANN Fellowship Program has been bringing new faces, new voices and fresh ideas into the ICANN Community to help support the regional and global work of policy building and maintaining secure operation of the Domain Name System. At first the program focused on reaching out to governments and ccTLD operators but quickly widened the scope to include end users from all sectors: civil society, business, non-commercial, academic, technical, security and other core areas that represent ICANN's community of volunteers. Priority has been given to those from developing or least developed nations, based on economic standing as documented by sources external to ICANN. ICANN has evolved since then due in great part to the introduction of new gTLDs and IDNs, along with a more global outlook towards engagement and the complexity of issues that affect all Internet Users. Today's ICANN still needs new members from all sectors and regions but perhaps it is time that we should extend our scope and outreach once again..this time, to engage not only those who can bring expertise and experience to a given community where there is a gap, but to encourage newcomers from those under served and/or under represented communities that have still been experiencing challenges to having full participation in the global Internet Governance discussions.
This Public Comment is the culmination of a Fellowship Program Review that the Development and Public Responsibility Department began several months ago after listening to concerns from our community that current eligibility requirements were no longer reflecting their needs but actually excluding current and potential volunteers from ICANN's regions by denying access to the Fellowship Program. Staff hired an outside researcher to benchmark other "like" programs while an internal team looked more closely into the capacity building needs of our Multistakeholder community to see how they matched up to what the Program could deliver given the current eligibility criteria. This initial research led us to looking at the entire application process, applicant questions and the assessment/selection methods to see if there was room for improvement while still maintaining the key tenants of the program that do work to bring eligible participants from various backgrounds into ICANN. The result is the FY17 Improvement document which is what we are asking our community to review and provide comment on within the next 45 days, so that we can use this revised approach for the ICANN58 round of Applications. Go to: