Why are the GNOME Foundation and Endless offering this Challenge?

We would like to find and recognize individuals who are helping support the next generation of FOSS coders.

The need for improved access to software engineering education and training has been globally identified as deficient in a number of areas. For several years, our community, like many others in the free and open-source software sector, has struggled to attract and maintain the number of high-quality developers we need to drive the GNOME project forward at the pace we would like. This has been amplified by the rise of web frameworks and the popularity of developing on macOS as a platform, as well as the continued failure to diversify the engineering pool away from white males.

In the 2018 and 2019 StackOverflow Developer Survey it shows this trend increasing:

  • 64.5% of engineers do not contribute to open source projects more than once a year, compared to 55.5% last year.
  • Only 25.6% of developers use Linux as their primary operating system.
  • 91.7% of engineers identify as male, and 70.8% as white or of European descent.

We believe that addressing this disparity is key to ensuring the long-term success of free and open source software on the desktop, and that the GNOME Foundation is in a unique position to guide and mentor people in their career path.

What are the goals of the Challenge?

The primary goal of the Challenge is to improve the coding skills of beginner coders by introducing them to the FOSS community and encouraging FOSS community participation for years to come.

We hope in doing so that we address some of the current shortcomings of the industry, including raising the awareness and skills required to contribute to free and open source software amongst educators and students; increasing the number of people (youth and adults) who are trained in coding free and open source software; and increasing the percentage of GNOME contributors who identify as women, non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming.

What are the Challenge key dates and deadlines?

April 6, 2020Competition Launch Week
April 9, 2020Submission link opens
July 1, 2020Idea (Phase One) complete
TBD Late JulyWinners announced during GUADEC
November 2, 2020Proof of Concept (Phase Two) complete
December 2, 2020Proof of Concept winners announced
March 11, 2021Final Project (Phase Three) complete
April 7, 2021Final winner announced

What are the prizes?

The GNOME Foundation and Endless would like to recognize individuals and teams interested in supporting the next generation of FOSS coders. Thanks to a grant from Endless, we are offering up to $65,000 in cash prizes. Prices include but are not limited to:

Phase One: Idea

  • $1000 prize per selected entry
  • Server space to store entry
  • Invitation to present the idea at conference (TBD)
  • Invitation to participate in Phase Two

Phase Two: Proof of Concept

  • $5,000 prize per selected entry
  • Invitation to participate in Phase Three

Phase Three: Final Project

  • 1st place ‑ $15,000
  • 2nd place ‑ $10,000
  • Budget to attend award ceremony for one team member

Cash Prizes will be awarded as checks or bank transfers from a U.S. bank. Prize-related expenses, including all federal, state, and local taxes represent the sole financial responsibility of the winner.

Your Entry

Does the entry have to be FOSS?

As the Challenge promotes free software participation, strong preference will be given to projects that are produced, designed to be edited and used with free and open-source software. We ask that your entry be:

  • licensed under a free and open-source software or content license approved by the Free Software Foundation (“FSF”) or Open Source Initiative (“OSI”)
  • capable of being run, viewed, edited, etc. using the GNOME desktop environment

For example, a graphic design project created in Inkscape would be preferred to one created in Illustrator, and a game that uses free software libraries would be preferred to one designed for Steam. A closed source game would not be acceptable, but an open-source game (which can also be run through proprietary software) would be acceptable but not ranked as highly by the judges.

Are you looking for any particular kind of entry?

Apart from what is set out in these Challenge Rules, there are no restrictions on the form submissions must take: they may be software projects, educational materials, videos, games, presentations, events, or anything else that promotes engagement of beginning coders with the FOSS community. Be as creative as you would like to be.

How do I enter Phase One?

In Phase One, we would like you to write up your idea, tell us about yourself (or your team) and submit it online to by July 1st. We ask that you submit your proposal in English and encourage (but do not require) supplemental materials. The judges will review your submission and decide which ones will move to the next phase.

To help you plan your writeup, below is the list of questions that we would like you to answer:

Part 1 – Your Idea

  1. What is the working name of your project?
  2. Tell us in 200 words or less about your idea. (Feel free to include key features, unique elements, how it will meet challenge goals, etc.)

Part 2 – Project Details

  1. How does your entry introduce the FOSS community to beginning coders?
  2. As part of this challenge we seek ideas that engage diverse populations that are often under-represented in the coding community. Will your submission engage members of this audience? If so, please explain.
  3. Introducing coders to the FOSS community is important, but engaging and retaining them within the community is also crucial. Please explain how your project will engage and retain users.
  4. How will your project’s impact will be measured?
  5. What did we miss? Is there anything you want to add about your submission?
  • Supplemental materials are encouraged but not required. Please upload at most 5 files

Part 3 – You/Your Team

  1. About You
  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Country of Residence
  • Describe your experience with the FOSS community (no experience necessary)
  • Twitter Handle (optional; please note, by providing your social media details, you are giving us permission to include you in public tweets, posts, and other social media marketing)
  1. Are you working with a team?
  2. We would like to know more about you/your team’s background and experiences. Feel free to share relevant skills, examples of past projects, hobbies and other interests.
  3. Documentation and record keeping are key parts of staying organized. Explain how you’ll document your work so that others may contribute to future iterations.
  4. How did you learn about the challenge?
  5. Within your team, how will the roles and responsibilities between the members of your team be allocated? (please skip if you are working individually)

What do I need to do for Phase Two?

The 20 projects selected in Phase One will be invited to participate in Phase Two and asked to develop their proposal into a working prototype. This will enable teams to demonstrate the feasibility and achievability of their idea to the judges. We aren’t looking for a final product at this point but enough development to give the judges an idea of the direction of the final product.

What do I need to do for Phase Three?

The winners from Phase Two will be invited to participate in Phase Three. The final stage of the competition focuses on turning the prototype in to an end product that can be used in the future.

Should I be concerned about Intellectual Property (IP)?

The Community Engagement Challenge is looking for unique and creatively designed entries. Entries must be the original work and intellectual property of the creator(s). The entry may use third-party resources — for example, images, music and software libraries — provided you can demonstrate that you have the right to do so (e.g., the content is made freely available, the creator has a signed release, etc.).

How important is technical execution? Does an entry with polished art, or no typos, beat a game with messy art or typos but a brilliant core mechanic?

If the spelling is so atrocious that the judges are unsure of what the entry is about, the technical execution is getting in the way of the experience. Similarly, if the entry art (if applicable) is especially beautiful, that might contribute to a high rating in terms of engagement or innovative
creative vision. Fundamentally, the Community Engagement Challenge is intended to invite coders to the Free Software Community and is not an art competition, coding challenge or spelling test, so technical skill (or lack thereof) in these areas should be viewed through the lens of
the criteria previously provided.


Who can enter?

The Challenge is open to everyone except residents of the following: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or the Crimea region of the Ukraine (excluded due to U.S. country-based sanctions.) Similarly, Blocked Persons on the Specially Designated Nationals List are excluded from the Challenge due to U.S. restrictions. Residents of Brazil and Italy are excluded due to local laws restricting contests. Employees of GNOME and Endless and their affiliates are also not allowed to enter. For exact details, please view the terms and conditions.

Can I submit an entry by myself?

Yes, you are welcome as an individual and you do not need to be on a team to submit an entry.

Can I be on a team if I want? How big can my team be?

Yes, if you have others you want to work with by all means form a team.

If you have a great idea and are looking for a team to help you or want to join a team, please post in

This project is great for a class group or group of friends. The team can be as big as you like, however keep in mind that you will need to divide up the project responsibilities and prize amounts.


Where is the best place to receive up to date information about the challenge?

Please visit the homepage for the most up to date information. Should there be any additional changes, those that have submitted their valid email address when entering their submission will also be notified via email.

This sounds great and I would love to have my company/university/class involved. What do I need to do?

Please feel free to share! We are happy to help with your outreach. Please feel free to contact us at We have also included some helpful tools you can use to share with your group. Find them on our Promote the Challenge page.

Can I share this to the list I moderate/online groups I belong to?

Please feel free to share! We are happy to help with your outreach. Please feel free to contact us at We have also included some helpful tools you can use to share with your group. on our Promote the Challenge page.

Are you on social media?

Yes, through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Follow the challenge or send your own challenge related message via #GNOMEChallengeAdd block