In September 2000, the Yet Another Society (YAS) was formed to help promote grassroots Perl-related activities, most notably the various Yet Another Perl Conferences.
In October, YAS president Kevin Lenzo began discussing the possibility of raising community funding to support the Perl-related activities of Open Source developers. The idea was to offer individuals with a demonstrated track-record in Perl development a sabbatical from their other commitments. This would allow them to work full-time for the betterment of the international Perl community.
It was decided that, as a trial of this community-funded development model, the first such Perl Development Grant would be offered to Damian Conway, a well-known academic, author, speaker, trainer, and module developer.
Because Damian is an academic at Monash University in Australia, YAS was able to offer him complete funding for the year 2001 for the comparatively modest sum US$55,000. An additional US$20,000 was budgeted for travel, accomodation, and incidentals.
In mid-October, YAS announced the project and invited corporate and individual donations to fund it. The news was relayed on use.perl, perl.com, and Slashdot, and on numerous Perl mailing lists. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Within two weeks over 130 sponsors had donated the entire amount required. A single corporate sponsor, Blackstar, donated half the required funding: over US$27,000.
By early November, Monash University had agreed to release Damian and the project was confirmed. From January 2001, Damian will spend twelve months working of Perl development projects, writing about Perl, and presenting papers and invited talks at conferences and Perl Monger events around the world.