Infuse is a community-developed framework providing pathways for digital protectors (digital security trainers, technologists, auditors, etc.) to advance their knowledge and skill sets in areas of specialized technical expertise (STE). Infuse aims to make much-needed STE more widely available in contexts where at-risk communities need it the most, by upskilling protectors who already have established trust with these communities. This involves localizing expertise, as well as expanding accessibility to and increasing the diversity of providers of specialized digital security support. 

The Infuse framework is being developed in response to a variety of challenges: 

  1. Demand for support requiring STE exceeds what is available as there is a limited pool of local digital protectors with specialized skills. 
  1. Digital protectors looking to upskill in areas of STE struggle to identify relevant resources, guidance, and mentorship. They also struggle to find ways to verify or validate progress made in their skill-building. 
  1. Resources and expertise are not equally distributed among those providing support for at-risk communities. Expertise tends to be centralized among a few, limiting the communities which can access local quality specialized support. 

To address the above, Infuse provides digital protectors looking to upskill with in-depth learning paths covering different areas of STE, each associated with a badge demonstrating completion. The learning paths consist of guidance on how to best approach learning the associated area of expertise along with recommended resources. The paths each cover a variety of subtopics and include practice exercises, as well as skill validation exercises. The paths also integrate guidance on how areas of STE are relevant to and may be used to support at-risk communities. Infuse can also be used as a means of connecting with other digital protectors to aid in learning, whether they be Mentors (digital protectors who already hold expertise in a particular area) or peers learning the same area of expertise. An online platform hosting these learning paths is in development and will become available to the public in 2024, so stay tuned! 

In 2024, Infuse is in a pilot phase, and it is still being developed and tested. During this phase, Internews in coordination with three core partners, Conexo, DefendDefenders, and Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA), are supporting select Learners (digital protectors who seek to upskill using the Infuse framework) as part of a fellowship program and matching them up with a Mentor or peer Learner to help them verify their skills and provide overall guidance and support while following a learning path. The fellowship program will also present opportunities for select Learners to receive support to apply newly gained skills within their communities. 

Infuse is community-developed and owned. At its core, the framework was developed based on premises, ideas, and feedback identified through interviews, focus group discussions, workshops, and sprints with dozens of digital protectors and members of the internet freedom community from across the globe. Critically, over a four-day Global Convening in Nairobi, over 25 community members contributed to the mapping of threats, mitigations, and skills which helped to determine the initial six learning paths and badge areas of expertise, in addition to insights on pedagogy, skill verification, mentorship, platform usability, and long-term sustainability of the framework. Further plans will be shared in the near future regarding long-term community ownership and maintenance of the framework. 

Much like how your favorite tea infuses hot water, making for a delicious, aromatic, cozy (maybe even caffeinated) beverage, we hope that Infuse will be a rich source of learning, growth, and connection for digital protectors and the communities they support. Pinkies up!