Open Educational Resources Initiative

Open Educational Resources (OER) are digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.

In 2007, the Information Program began to apply its experience working with the Open Access movement to the growing field of OER. Working with the Shuttleworth Foundation, we launched the Cape Town Open Education Declaration in 2008, which first called for public access to publicly funded educational materials. The Declaration offers a strategy for the development of OER through the use of open content licenses, the collaborative development of educational materials and the adoption of open education policies.

Purpose and Priorities

Policy on educational materials is segmented into local education systems and by language, which makes large, scalable solutions difficult. Our strategy focuses on a small number of pilot countries, notably Brazil and Poland, where there is enough grassroots support and investment in such resources to support advocacy for good policy. These countries, together with the U.S. Department of Education, are now helping to initiate pro-OER policy at intergovernmental organizations: for example, the Paris Declaration on OER was adopted by UNESCO in 2012 and encourages UNESCO member states to provide public access to educational materials produced by governments of their member countries.

At the grassroots level, we collaborate with Creative Commons and the Wikimedia Foundation, whose affiliates and chapters are often core members of national OER coalitions.


The Open Educational Resources Initiative has a full program of work for 2013. We will consider applications from new partners in line with the above stated priorities however please keep in mind that we are only able to fund a limited number of the many applications we receive. If you are considering applying for funding under this initiative, please send a one-page concept paper to [email protected]. The paper should include the following information.

  • A brief description of the project goals and planned activities.
  • Information about the applicant organization and project partners.
  • An idea of how much your project will cost.

We endeavor to respond to applications for funds which meet the criteria specified within two months.