NPFI actively seeks to support new college-level classes to develop FOSS projects for local non-profits. The typical development process has the following elements:

  • In one or two semesters, students develop or adapt a working software artifact that meets the specific needs of a local non-profit organization. Examples of recent projects can be viewed here.
  • Students interact with their non-profit client on a regular basis (e.g., weekly) throughout the semester to show progress and evolve the requirements.  This approach is part of the agile CO-FOSS model.
  • Students use open source development tools to develop your product. For example, past projects have used PHP, MySQL, Eclipse, GitHub, and CivicRM.
  • The instructor provides the completed project’s code in a public repository (e.g., GitHub) under an open source license, so that it can be reused and/or extended by a future student development team.

Benefits of CO-FOSS

  • Students gain a unique learning experience, and a completed project to point to when applying for internships or jobs.
  • Through client and team interactions, students develop critical communication and teamwork skills that prepare them for professional success.
  • Student community service contributions are implicit.
  • The non-profit gains new and useful software that will outlast the semester.
  • The project provides good will and positive press for both the university and the non-profit community.

Other Resources

Further Information

Look at the examples of past semester-based projects to help you envision developing such a course.   If you can envision developing a course to meet similar needs for a local non-profit, consider applying for an NPFI grant to help support your work.  Please contact us if you would like feedback on your ideas.