Recognizing The Recipients of The Explorer Awards

May 3, 2023

Last year, we joined forces with Unfinished to launch the Explorer Awards, a series of grants to provide organizations and individuals using decentralized technology with the support to learn more about Web3. As a designer and developer of systems for a healthier digital society, Unfinished was an ideal partner for this initiative. The grants stem from a $200,000 funding pool that was dispersed in amounts between $1,000 and $10,000 to support projects that advanced learning and development in decentralized technology. The award was intended to fund anything from an NFT workshop to a metaverse exhibition to a Web3 dinner event.

The Web3 ecosystem is continuously growing, and Filecoin Foundation and Unfinished share the same mission to support decentralization to build a better, safer, and more equitable internet for the future. The only way that happens is by identifying and funding activists, developers, hackers, and passionate learners who strive to create an internet for the people, not one where the few control the desires of the many.

We’d like to highlight a few of the 2022 recipients of FF’s and Unfinished’s joint Explorer Awards, below:

Crystal Hendricks-Kretzer

Crystal Hendricks-Kretzer is a Grant Officer at Cyber Collective and runs her own agency called Crystal Rae Creative. Prior to joining Cyber Collective, she served as Director of Marketing and Communications at Taproot Foundation.

Hendricks-Kretzer received an Explorer Award to host a free, in-person workshop during Cyber Security Month (October) on security and privacy in Web3 for our community of digital natives and early adopters. Filecoin Foundation will release a mini-guide — and corresponding social media content — post-workshop on these principles that will live in our soon-to-be-launched Resource Hub.

David Tomchak

David Tomchak is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Global Corporate Venturing and a Visiting Policy Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, where his specialty is AI-enabled content creation and the use of data in publishing and associated bias. Tomchak has had a long career in media and communications, having previously served as Digital Publisher of The Evening Standard and COO of The New Statesman Media Group. Tomchak also spent time in civil service, serving as Head of Digital and Deputy Director of Communications for 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

Tomchak earned an Explorer Award to host a round table dinner for press and members in the industry to discuss the findings of the ‘Web3 in Media Pilot’ that Well Designed Ltd is leading later this year.

Dragan Espenschied

Dragan Espenschied is a net artist, musician, and digital art conservator. He has served as the Preservation Director at Rhizome's Digital Preservation Program since 2014. Rhizome promotes digital art and culture through commissions, exhibits, scholarship grants, and preservation initiatives, and their work has been integral in documenting the history of contemporary art and spreading awareness about the ways digital technologies and the internet can help preserve it.

Dragan was granted an Explorer Award to support PeerTube, a mature, sophisticated, peer-to-peer, open-source video hosting framework and social media platform that is already used by many institutions and collectives.


JAZSALYN is an anti-disciplinary artist who has a passion for reimagining Black futures. As the Creative and Curatorial Director of Black Beyond, a radical space for artists and activists to define alternate realities for Blackness, JAZSALYN collaborates with Black and non-Black co-liberators to decolonize and re-indigenize social and creative practice. Through Black Beyond, she curates a series of programs, artist talks, workshops, and performances, as well as a monthly segment titled 'alternate realities' on Dublab Radio.

JAZSALYN received an Explorer Award to support the early phases of a project to develop prototypes exploring game design, African/Afrofuturism, and its influence on the future of extended reality experiences, the metaverse, and Web3.

Paige Donner

Paige Donner is a serial entrepreneur focused on emerging technology. She is the Co-Founder of FrontierDAO, which supports the incubation of research and innovation in the fields of science, space exploration, and fusion energy using Web3 tooling and DAO organizational infrastructure. She is also the CEO of IoT Logistics, LLC, which is an emerging technology consultancy firm specializing in architecture, blockchain, and systems engineering. Lastly, Paige is a metaverse producer and filmmaker for Jupiter Productions Oxygène LLC.

Paige was chosen as a recipient of the award to help fund an 8-week Basics of Web3 and DeSci (decentralized science) course for communities of aspiring astronautical engineers at the University of Hawaii Manoa & Women In Fusion.

Rhoda Omenya

Rhoda is a Development Officer with Ushahidi in Nairobi, Kenya, which is a non-profit that empowers communities to advance social change through accessible technology solutions. Ushahidi started as a casual group of bloggers in Kenya who experimented with code in an effort to collect more and better data regarding post-election violence in 2008. The group’s mission is to use technology to help Kenya’s marginalized people raise their collective voice, and enable the public servants who serve them to listen and respond to their needs more effectively.

With funding from the Explorer Award, Rhoda proposed a two-day co-creation physical meetup in Nairobi, dubbed "Web3 meets Ushahidi." The aim is to bring together Web3 experts and enthusiasts to champion Web3 acceleration and adoption in Africa.

Trevor Snapp

Trevor Snapp is the Co-Founder of Gisa Group, also in Nairobi, that supports the next generation of storytellers through media research and development. Trevor is a freelance journalist and has written and done photography for publications including NewsWeek, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and NPR.

With funding from this award, Snapp explored new ways to imagine a decentralized archive for East Africa through engagement with existing technologies like the Filecoin network.

Ed Thomas

Ed Thomas is the Founder and CEO of Hazel, a mobile app that calculates how much it would cost users to start reversing global carbon levels and make a real impact on climate change. From forestry work to conservation to the latest nature-based solutions, Hazel partners with conservation projects that users can support to maximize their impact and create a positive force for the climate, while also bringing awareness to personal and industry habits that have a negative climate impact.

As a recipient of this award, Ed is exploring how to incorporate Filecoin into the Hazel technology offering to determine how it can work for them and other similar climate-change-focused organizations.

A'lece Mark

A’lece Mark is Strategic Enterprise Executive with Google Cloud. She is also a cultivator with Garden Club, a digital community exploring ways to feed an expanding population sustainably while regenerating the planet. A’lece is passionate about food security, Web3, blockchain, public goods, machine learning, and startups.

A’lece was chosen to receive an Explorer Award to advance her exploration of ways to feed a growing population sustainably while giving back to the Earth. Her first project is the Great Green Garden, which is leveraging Web3 coordination, NFTs, and vertical farming to regreen the world's food deserts.

Rahim Buford

Rahim Buford is the Founder and Executive Director of Unheard Voices Outreach (UVO). After being incarcerated for most of his early adulthood, Rahim was released from prison after participating in any rehabilitation opportunity he could find in his 26 years of time served. He is a big believer in second chances, which led him to found UVO, an organization that assists imprisoned Tennesseans transitioning back into their communities. UVO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on organizing, educating, and policy construction to release more Tennesseans from prison.

Rahim received an Explorer Award to build a decentralized resource application for formerly incarcerated citizens in Tennessee where opportunities for jobs, health care, housing, and funding for personal visions could be easily ascertained. He believes this would further UVO's mission in assisting individuals transitioning back into the social, civic, economic, and technological community.

Both Filecoin Foundation and Unfinished know that decentralized technology can enable a better future where users have more control over their data, so we’re proud to distribute these grants to such a diverse and well-deserved group who are genuinely curious about Web3 and the ways decentralized technologies can be used for good. The hope is that this joint initiative will introduce more people from different backgrounds to the space and provide the educational resources they need. We can’t wait to hear about the results from this push for exploration and the impact these grants have on the long-term goal of building a better internet.