Dear OCaml community,
It is my pleasure to publicize the OCaml Software Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to grow and strengthen the OCaml community. It is funded by industrial and academic sponsors who wish to contribute back to the community, and its main responsibilty is to spend those funds on actions that benefit the community as a whole.
The Foundation was created by the efforts of Michel Mauny⁰, launched in June 2018; I became its director in January 2019, working with an Executive Board containing Xavier Leroy, Damien Doligez, Yann Regis-Gianas and myself, taking ideas, advice and feedback from the excellent people representing our sponsors (Currently: ahrefs, Jane Street, OCamlPro, Tezos, Bloomberg, Lexifi and SimCorp).
Our website¹ lists a few of our recent actions, such as developing the Learn-OCaml teaching platform, funding Outreachy internships on OCaml, and funding video capture for OCaml Meetups. We have been asking around, whenever we meet people from the community, on how they would recommend using money to improve the community. We have been proposing ideas, working on suggestions from our sponsors and the general community; we are not very good at communication, we do more than we talk about. Of course, as a small organization led by volunteers working part-time, things can take a long time to get going – please be patient when you interact with us.
Our current objective is to reach a funding level of $200K per year, to be split between actions directed at "teaching OCaml"² and general OCaml actions. Once split among several important action areas, this is unfortunately not enough to employ someone full-time in a stable manner, but it can fund smaller actions that are more limited in time and scope. For example, I have been getting in touch with the maintainers of important bricks of the OCaml ecosystem, wondering about whether it’s possible to solidify the ecosystem by supporting their maintenance work where needed.
That’s it! I would be happy to answer questions and receive suggestions about the Foundation, in this thread or privately (by email at firstname.lastname@example.org). If your company or institution is interested in a new way to give back to the OCaml community, please consider becoming a sponsor; we will do our best to spend this money in the general interest of the community.
⁰: Michel Mauny was one of the earliest adopters of Caml as a programming language; he did his PhD thesis on the Categorical Abstract Machine, which was the basis for the very first Caml implementation – before Caml Light and then OCaml.
¹: at the time I’m posting this, it is not a nice website; I built it in the last few weeks, and web design is not my forte.
²: Yann Regis-Gianas has been spear-heading efforts to turn the Learn-OCaml platform, originally developed by OCamlPro for the OCaml MOOC, into a versatile teaching platform with an open corpus of automatically-graded OCaml exercises. (We received specific additional support of the Tezos Foundation for this.) We are interested in supporting and promoting all forms of OCaml teaching, whether they use this technical platform or not (for example, Jupyter notebooks are also used for OCaml teaching).