Open Source Sustainability/About

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The NumFOCUS Sustainability Program, led by Projects Director Christie Koehler, and advised by the Sustainability Advisory Board, is an innovative effort to improve the long-term sustainability of key open source scientific computing projects. This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

NumFOCUS is dedicated to supporting the open source scientific computing community. We work hard to achieve this goal, but one of the challenges many open source software projects face is sustainability. Like other open source software infrastructure, foundational projects in the scientific computing ecosystem tend to operate largely without significant resources, despite being incredibly important to their users. Our projects have enormous value; they’re being used on a daily basis by millions of people, yet it’s not clear how to determine or find the necessary resources to support and sustain critical open source scientific computing projects. Most project leads are developers with deep technical knowledge and passion, but little training or experience in the business practices required to sustain their project over time. As a result, many foundational infrastructure projects are at risk of languishing, being overburdened, or losing a central maintainer for lack of proper support.

The main goals of the NumFOCUS Sustainability Program are to:

  • connect the NumFOCUS Projects to each other to jointly develop and share information on sustainability strategies,
  • connect Project leads with people with relevant expertise and networks,
  • provide training on skills related to open source sustainability, including business and financial planning, marketing strategies, community engagement, governance, etc.;
  • develop and disseminate an Open Source Nurturing and Actionable Practices (OSNAP) Kit; and
  • support infrastructure that would help the Projects more effectively manage finances, necessary technical resources, and client and business relationships.

The NumFOCUS Sustainability Program is unique in its attention to identifying sustainability mechanisms that will be effective in both academic and industry environments.

For project leads

Christie, the Projects Director, is available to project leads and core contributors to consult on any sustainability-related matter. You are welcome to schedule a meeting with Christie any time, and she would love to have a 1:1 with project leads a few times a year, including when projects first come aboard. Christie is available via email, Slack, and phone.

Getting involved

Current Sustainability projects that project leads, project contributors, and other interested parties might be interested in learning more about or getting involved with include:

  • Sustainability Workshops: project brief, GitHub repo
  • Sustainability Index: project brief, GitHub repo
  • Collaboration Infrastructure: project brief, GitHub repo
  • Email to learn more or join our new Discourse-powered forum.