Independent Web designers looking for help in launching sites have a new place to turn: the Web Development Fund (WDF).
The fund, sponsored by WebLab, in conjunction with PBS Online, will underwrite independent Web projects that bring a fresh perspective to either a private or a public issue.
WebLab, which is "an online laboratory dedicated to expanding the potential of the Web as a participatory medium," according to its founder, Marc Weiss, in a statement, is a spin-off of P.O.V. Interactive, PBS's Internet publishing division.
WebLab projects that are chosen will be part of the WDF umbrella site, and will receive, on average, $25,000 or less, but grants may run as high as $50,000 for deserving entries. However, designers will be expected to provide matching funds toward the total product budget.
According to the WDF's guidelines, it is open to proposals for sites about anything from public issues such as abortion or immigration to private problems such as acne, as long as entries provide a fresh perspective in an innovative way.
Further information about submission guidelines can be found at the WDF site. Entries will be accepted through November 2, and sites that are chosen will be launched sometime in 1998.
The WDF Advisory Committee, which will help decide which proposals are chosen, consists of Web designers, journalists, and academics. The committee includes Red Burns, chairman of New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program; Glorianna Davenport, director of interactive cinema at MIT's Media Laboratory; Joan Konner, publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review; Jai Singh, executive editor of CNET's NEWS.COM; and Maria Wilhelm, president of the Well.