In a statement, IBM said the US$50,000 Open Source Community Grant was timely because it would "help Outreachy provide paid remote work to underrepresented groups in a time when people are being forced to work from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic".
Outreachy offers three-month internships for people around the world to work in open source and free software. The work can be done remotely and interns are paid a stipend of US$5500. They are also given US$500 for travel to attend conferences or events.
The grant includes a cash award US$25,000 and a technology award valued at US$25,000 to directly support education and career development activities.
“The current COVID-19 crisis underscores the inequities in our society," said Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, the parent organisation of Outreachy.
"People who have jobs that can be done remotely find themselves in a stable situation and able to weather this crisis at home, while many workers have no immediate way to earn a living without risking their lives.
“Getting paid home-based work to folks who are subject to systemic bias has never been more important than it is right now.
"We’re working to make this Outreachy round the biggest one ever to help the most people right now. This grant will make a big difference to offset the reduction in some of our corporate sponsorship from companies that are struggling.”
Todd Moore, vice-president of Open Technology and Developer Advocacy at IBM, said the award was timely as it would help Outreachy provide paid remote work to underrepresented groups at a time when people were being forced to work from home.
"Our open source community nominated a number of non-profits doing incredible work and, while voting was close with plenty of deserving organisations in the mix, we awarded Outreachy the most votes for their commitment to providing paid internships to underserved and underrepresented minorities," he added.