Hello, HELPFUL Community!

Your C-Team wants to share what everyone has been doing to advance HELPFUL!


First up – Project Diversification!

With the world getting its act together on COVID (to the extent that it can) and with most people returning to work due to the vaccine, we’ve been expanding our focus beyond COVID mitigation activities and toward how we can make HELPFUL a sustainable organization. We continue to aim to enable contributors to work on meaningful projects advancing global resiliency and a healthier, more prosperous world. We’re continuing to work on our original use case of ensuring necessary medical technologies are accessible to everyone who needs them. We’re leveraging what we’ve learned and are now applying our experience in Medical to CleanTech and other Supply Chain operations to improve equitable access to solutions in these spaces. In support of these efforts, HELPFUL is working to establish programs to develop well-constructed innovation challenges in these areas over the summer months. These programs will include industry stakeholders and partners to provide a critical lens on the spider web of development possibilities to identify challenges resulting in concrete calls to action. A special shoutout to Raksha Thammaiah @Kevin Barrow (They/Them) and @Nicholas Cupples, who have put in a lot of effort this year to build out these programs and the necessary operations infrastructure.

Establishing our Governance Model

We have been focusing on transforming HELPFUL from a loosely coordinated group of contributors to a well-defined organization and environment with measurable outcomes. Establishing a distributed, decentralized organization to do this is not easy. Fortunately, there are several well-proven examples of thriving communities to learn from and build upon, including the Linux Foundation, online gaming communities, other open-source program offices, and engineering-centric innovation communities.

We’ve begun a series of workshops and consultations with Damali Slowe of Klug Counsel in Washington D.C., first to learn the current state of the various types of US nonprofit structures and identify current gaps in management and governance models. We must complete these gaps as they inform HELPFUL’s sustainability model. We’re grateful to Damali and Klug Counsel for their contributions to this Board and Leadership driven initiative. HELPFUL exists for the benefit of society at large.

We have begun to invite other entities who see the promise in our mission and vision to provide feedback on the value and role HELPFUL could fulfill in the future. As we listen to interested new contributors across governments, industries, and foundations, they are bringing their needs to HELPFUL, which tells us what we all need to do going forward.

Building Community By Forming Partnerships

Our primary thrusts in this regard have been toward building consistency and volume across the following core elements:


Our Partnerships funnel has been performing admirably, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank HELPFUL contributors Amish Chadha, Andy Arluk, and Miguel Martins for their dedication to establishing our Partnerships network! We have a page on the HELPFUL website dedicated to our formal partnerships and alliances with a diverse spectrum of like-minded organizations. This lays the framework for a diversified, open ecosystem that will bring fresh challenges, funding opportunities, and avenues for commercialization of HELPFUL-incubated projects – a role vital to getting needed products into the hands of those who need them. HELPFUL continues to evolve into a multi-disciplinary R&D, engineering, and innovation platform addressing real-world challenges capable of creating and applying cutting-edge technologies.

We have repeatedly received feedback that we offer compelling value to corporations and early-stage entrepreneurs who want to inject new value into their products with focused discussions leading to innovation and multidisciplinary cooperation. We are now speaking with 90 organizations across North America, the Nordics, and Europe in the not-for-profit (NFP), startup, and corporate environments. These stakeholders align with one or more areas of HELPFUL’s activity and have the potential to expand the impact of our growing ecosystem. Our current goal and forecast are to progress steadily by signing at least one new partner each month to help us progress our fundraising, collaboration, and community growth objectives.

To learn more about our Partnerships Funnel or contribute to the Partnership team effort, please contact @Andy Arluk or @amish  through Slack or email at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively.


Engaging Communication and Outreach Activities

Social Media

We’ve improved our social media presence. Please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for updates on forthcoming events, hackathons, and partner news! More importantly, engage with these postings and assist in developing a discourse on these themes; we want to hear from you since it helps us gauge and inform plans for how we can foster innovation goals throughout the community. Comments drive conversations: we use them to provide observations and insights. The two minutes you spend each week on this activity will directly and quickly help develop HELPFUL’s audience and voice, fuel our partnership growth, which will lead to organizational stability, find new issues to focus on, and resources to meet those challenges!


We are keen on scouring community voices to help us produce blog posts and creative content. If you have ideas you’ve been tinkering with and haven’t quite figured out where to publish some of these elements – have a chat with us. We’re more than happy to work with you to compose your thoughts and see them shared with an audience.

The Helping Hand

What started as a podcast titled ‘The Helping Hand’ is moving towards establishing a virtual Speaker series circuit for the Open-Source community. The intention is to bring voices from industry to the platform to discuss challenges associated with Open-Source Manufacturing and how industry and maker spaces can better navigate demand signals to support one another. Stay tuned for a calendar of activities outlining an initial seasonal schedule of talks! If you want to learn more about Communications and outreach activities at Helpful, please get in touch with @amish on Slack or at [email protected].


Operations and Technology at Work

Helpful is preparing to establish an online store and sell community-oriented swag with designs gathered from our community to generate revenue for our Project Prototyping Fund. We have the platform set up, and the next steps are to host a hackathon leading to designs available via the swag store! We plan to use at least 75% of swag revenues to replenish the Prototyping Fund, with the remainder going to administrative costs and long-term collaboration with Evergreen and the Eden Project to promote worldwide reforestation efforts. Our earnest aim is that the program is successful, allowing us to increase the size and number of microgrants to projects. We have seen firsthand how vital funding is in assisting projects to go from design to prototype construction and testing. Stay tuned for information about upcoming Helpful Design Hackathons to support this cause! Helpful has been and will continue to update the helpfulengineering.org website to ensure that it represents the right message and content. To this end, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Miguel Martins for his dedication to improving our website! If you’d like to learn more about Operations at Helpful, please reach out on Slack to @Prime or by email at: [email protected].To learn more about Technology and the future Helpful Swag store, please reach out to @Senaka Balasuriya on Slack or at [email protected].


People Update

We’d like to welcome @Manisha Kohli as Recruiting Team Lead and @Florence as our HR Team Leads! They have joined Helpful to improve our People process and will lead the incredible recruitment and HR teams! We are contacting everyone with an open job request to ensure we meet your needs and that your job postings are still relevant. If you want to recruit for your team or project, please contact the #Recruiting channel, where the pinned message will lead you through the process. Please respond quickly as the recruiting team works with you to provide candidates for your position. They are doing their best to get you the person you need. Often, they have to wait for several days. Thanks. We will announce other new projects and activities soon! If you’d like to contribute to HELPFUL’s Volunteer Recruitment and HR activities, contact @Barry Watkins on Slack or at [email protected].


Grants! Grants! Grants!

The National Science Foundation
HELPFUL has submitted a proposal to an exciting solicitation by the National Science Foundation’s Technology Innovation Partnerships (TIP) Directorate. The program is titled “Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE).” There are no guarantees when writing grants (in fact, you should expect not to win an award); however, I want you to know WE WENT FOR IT! The program is an excellent fit for HELPFUL – it would provide funding to identify, engage with and scope the needs of other contributors who would most directly benefit from the work of HELPFUL’s Project Data Team. Rockstar HELPFUL Contributors Sara Abowitz, Peter Springsteen, Patrick Wilke, Nathan Parker, Deepti Sawhney, Kevin Patel, Vinnie Kumala, Steven LoCicero, Robert Read, Raksha Thammaiah, Kevin Barrow, and Harry Pierson helped produce the Supply Chain Interoperability Specification (SCIS) with the Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

SCIS has the potential to help resolve the wicked problems the world is experiencing due to supply chain disruptions. SCIS aims to introduce resilience property to the supply base by specifying requirements for nodes to interact and share information. SCIS will ultimately enable innovation produced at a desktop scale to interact with enterprise manufacturers and for small and desktop producers to manufacture regulated artifacts, provided they meet the requirements. It represents the beginning of an entirely new open-source technology environment and a future class of technology products, which will enable the realization of an equitable marketplace and expanded opportunities for producers of all types!

Our submission was titled: “Translating Supply Chain Interoperability Specification (SCIS) Research into a Dynamic Ecosystem.”  It’s a mouthful but accurate!

If you’d like to contribute to Project Data – SCIS-related work, contact @Prime on Slack or at [email protected] (James is out of the office for June).

If you’d like to contribute to HELPFUL’s Grant writing activities, contact @BenT on Slack or at [email protected].


Amazon AWS IMAGINE Grant
We’ve also submitted a proposal to Amazon for funding and AWS credits to build out #Project – Home!

The Home initiative aims to reduce current frictions in community innovation. Helpful is creating an “Innovation as a Service” standard set of tools and processes for contributors and community innovation groups to make, categorize, and evaluate product innovation developed with the mission and value-aligned international or regional industry partners as a critical platform component. Home extends the access of established open-source community models to the individual entrepreneurial maker. We intend to host the solution and provide it to community innovators at the lowest possible cost. Modular components will include open AI/ML services to assist contributors in finding challenges and projects, access tooling, deploying technology, and producing documentation. Hopefully, platform modules find their way into the platforms of other mission, vision, and value-aligned organizations.

If you would like to learn more about or contribute to the Home project, please get in touch with:
@Prime for Systems and Architecture Design, User Experience and Interface
@Senaka Balasuriya for Technology and Software Development


Helpfully yours,

Benjamin and the rest of the HELPFUL C-Team