SEP (XX) The missing piece for Safe Ecosystem Grants Program

This is a temperature check to get the community’s feedback on a proposal to create an ecosystem support organization complementary to the Safe Grants Program, focused on supporting builders, and leveraging the Safe ecosystem to add value to those building on Safe.



The problem to solve:

  • Safe is looking to foster and expand its ecosystem of builders, entrepreneurs and community members, attract more talent and encourage apps and integrations building on top of Safe.
  • The recently launched ecosystem grants program takes the first step in providing funding for teams looking to build on Safe, and the Safe Ecosystem Foundation (SEF) has plans to expand this program based on wave 1 reviews, feedback and learnings.

Currently, builders throughout the web3 space, and the Safe ecosystem are facing a number of challenges in building and scaling innovative applications, teams and communities. In order to maximize the chances of success, it will be important for the Safe DAO / ecosystem to support builders in multiple aspects of their work.

  • Funding

  • Technical development & audits

  • Business development & growth

  • Legal & compliance

  • Operations

  • Talent acquisition

  • A complementary set of support verticals will increase the chances of success, enable scaling faster, and serve as a multiplier.

The proposed solution:

Create an ecosystem support organization that is focused on unlocking opportunities and value between Safe ecosystem grantees, Safe community and beyond.

Covariance is growing a curated network of builders and business developer advocates who share a passion for unlocking value. We want to help projects solve well defined and measurable problems, by empowering contributors from varied networks to collaborate, ideate, and create value that otherwise would have not existed.

Problem statement #2:

  • Teams from key centralized players (protocol ecosystem teams, platform teams at VC firms / accelerators and incubators) are looking to help the builders of their ecosystem and engage with their ecosystem by providing support.
  • In most cases the ability of these centralized teams to support their ecosystem is capped to the capacity of the core team to ideate and free mind share and make introductions, and to the size of their own personal networks
  • Covariance proposes to unlock the value of a collective community of platform professionals, super connectors, builders and community specialists, creating an incentives-aligned “platform as a service” type support system for the Safe ecosystem.

Proposal Details:

We propose to work with the SEF Grants team, to develop a time-limited experiment that aids in developing learnings and preparing for delivery of a best-in-class grants program in 2024.

Covariance will design a structured program that provides each grantee access to relevant resources and support tailored to their needs. Workstream categories will be defined in collaboration with the Safe ecosystem team.

Example of possible workflow:

  1. Each grantee is going through an onboarding questionnaire to identify needs (Consultation time with subject matter experts, intro to relevant people or companies (design partner, supplier, service provider, contributors, investors)
  2. Each grantee is matched with an account manager - single focal point for everything they need throughout the program
  3. Covariance is doing the groundwork to match needs with solutions - within the Safe ecosystem, Guardians, other builders and beyond.
  4. Match making and value add.
  5. Follow up - measure success and identify if value was created using NPS survey

Benefits for the Safe grant program and ecosystem

  • Higher chances of success for grantees to be able to achieve more with the funds they received from the grant program
  • Better user experience and sense of belonging to the safe ecosystem
  • Better NPS score (chances of entrepreneurs keep on building in the ecosystem and recommending their network to join too)
  • Better ROI on grants
  • Scale - a model that can grow independently to the capacity & size of Safe ecosystem core team
  • Involvement of the safe ecosystem members and opportunity to engage them with initiatives and projects

Where do Covariance and Safe goals intersec?

After working with 100+ startups on ideation, supporting growth and biz dev, it became clear there is room to leverage unutilized assets in value-add efforts.

We believe in the power of community led initiatives to unlock value in areas a centralized organization is limited in scope and capacity.

Covariance is on a mission to unlock that value by empowering community to help and support builders

We are looking to partner with the Safe Ecosystem, in order to design, develop and test our hypothesis for what we believe the future of value-add will be - Community led with Ownership incentive to those who create Value (COVariance)


Since this initiative is coming to support the grant program itself, we are raising it here for feedback and later for potential funding, so we can be ready on time to launch and support the upcoming cohort of grantees based on the below timelines:

We are asking for support from the Safe ecosystem to:

  1. Build the team. Hire staff to work on the project from preparation of the program to execution.

  2. Work on the program design in collaboration with the safe ecosystem team and community

  3. Design and execute Covariance’s MVP offering including: Operational, Legal structure, Tech stack

  4. Execute the support program for Safe’s 1st grants cohort in 3 phases:

Phase 1 Initial scoping, sandbox mode and research during wave 1 grants
Phase 2 Implement the proposed plan based on learnings on grantees needs and resources in the safe ecosystem during wave 2 grants and wrap-up and report back on the outcome
Phase 3 - Pending success (i.e - meeting the KPI’s set during program design), incorporate learnings, improve the program structure and operating model to be ready to run for the next grants program.

Funding requirements:

We will be asking for funding that comprises of Cash (USDC) + locked $SAFE tokens, to serve the ongoing funding needs while creating longer term alignment between covariance, Safe and participants

  1. Covariance funding - this will serve us to get the right people onboard and dedicate the time before & during the Safe Ecosystem Grants Program to deliver on the above
  2. Incentives bounties - We would explore to test different reward measures that can boost participation in cases work

Funding will be split between the above mentioned 3 phases

Budget estimate of ~$160K USDC, based on the following evaluations:

  • Length - Oct’23 - Mar’24 - 6 months, split to 3 phases.
  • FTE - Myself (Lior), Project management and operations (Daniel), Communication and community (TBH) - $10K each on avg, paid 50% in USDC and 50% in $SAFE.
    $5000 * 3 (people) *6 (months) = $90K USDC + $90K worth of $SAFE
  • Legal research and service providers -$30K USDC
  • Bounty pool - Allocated based on actual contributions to contributors who provided value and helped builders in the grants program. $40K + $40K worth of $Safe tokens

Expected outcome:

  1. Research phase report
  2. Execution phase report
  3. Grantees NPS survey results
  4. Participators survey results
  5. An ecosystem support blueprint design that can be replicated to future grants rounds

Call to action and timelines:

  1. We welcome the community feedback and ideas on this document
  2. We opened a Telegram channel for community members to engage directly with ideas and suggestions so we can collaboratively bring the optimal proposal for the DAO vote.
  3. Timeline: Aiming to conclude community feedback by August 31st, and if gained positive sentiment, bring to DAO voting during the first week of September, with the goal to get a go/no go decision by the 2nd week of September, so we can commence preparation in staffing and work plan.

More about Covariance:

[Dedicated TG chat]
[Abous Us]


I, Lior (the author of this proposal and Founder of Covariance) ran for the Safe Grants Council reviewer role and in getting to know the ecosystem more through this process, I realized that there is an opportunity to leverage my background and network to support and help the Safe Ecosystem in a much larger way with this proposal.

I’ve been also involved with the investment decision to participate in the $SAFE round as part of my previous role as Head of Platform and Collider Ventures.

Relevant references about the Safe Ecosystem Grant program:


I propose an additional person be paid $10k a month to offer support to grantees. Did I mention I have a Notion? Why aren’t we voting already? Anyway I’m not offering to fund, audit, develop, or advise the grantees but I will hold their hands through this process and I have very lovely hands. Clearly through the opportunity for access to my hands the respective teams will have greater opportunities for success in increased verticals and horizontals as the Safe ecosystem hurdles defined measurable empowering dodecahedrons

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Hey Lior, I enjoyed reading your proposal and agree with most of your points and arguments. In my opinion, being a good researcher is an essential part of being a good builder and developer. Unfortunately, we’re living in the Web3 world, and everything is changing in seconds. So, mentorship for builders is needed to keep them motivated, updated, and informed. I’ve seen too many really good hackathon projects fade away because of a lack of interest and team motivation. So I think your idea is needed in a program where builders are involved.

However i have some concerns about this idea

  • Is Safe going to build the Covariance team (which will take on grantees) or an additional team to audit Covariance? If It’s the first one, since that Safe does not know every member of the Covariance and their skills, wouldn’t it be ideal to execute the matchmaking and team construction within the Covariance?

  • How much time each week will you be able to devote to builders?

And about the budget, Your team will be around how many people, and is it specified the number of grantees? I think It might be healthier to coordinate the budget after grantees are announced.

Appreciate your vision and looking forward to more information and updates from you.


I think this is a timely proposal. As we have seen multiple times in this space, many grant programs have little to show for the money they pour into projects. In most cases projects built through grant program funding don’t amount to much. What I think would be an interesting KPI/goal here for Covariance is not only ensuring long term commitment from grant recipients but also putting them on a path to getting funding/building a product that has potential to go to market. I think an extension of the Ecosystem team that acts as an incubator for these grant recipients would be a great addition as it can focus on creating long term incentives for the builders, provide structure for them, and help them become self sustainable.


Thank you @oxdlr for taking the time to thoroughly read and provide feedback on this proposal!

To address your great questions:

What we offer is to be the glue within the grant program that proactively and on an ongoing basis works with the grantees and the Safe ecosystem (and beyond) to Identify needs → find relevant resources / people → activate them to support the grantees needs

The funding request will help secure dedicate resources to the Safe Grants program - both people from Covariance network and from the Safe Ecosystem.

Those people will be devoted on an equal basis of 3 FTE (how many people & at what capacity each is part of the experiment to understand what best serve the ecosystem & builders.

We plan to work with ALL grantees, and we expect that through the onboarding process of interviewing them and identify needs, we will better understand the intensity of work with each

This is a good point we’ve considered a lot - we wanted to propose the program in advance to when the grantees are announced to allow us to prepare the ground and be ready to onboard them once announced. i.e - doing the research & mapping work of identifying the relevant resources within the safe ecosystem.

Hope this helps clarify, don’t hesitate to follow up with more question!
We acknowledge this is experimental but much needed and we are excited to get the Safe Ecosystem support to unlock more opportunities for builders in this ecosystem :pray:


Hey Lior, thank you for replying me I think I am satisfied with your answers. Also, I think I’ll also be in the grants program, so It’ll be nice to have your team as a helper. Considering this is a temperature check, I believe that the budget will be planned based on whether there are more or fewer staff.

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Hey @Liorg thanks for posting this!

I have seen web3 grants processes from both sides of the table and definitely feel the process could be improved. With SAFE grants kicking off, this is a timely and valuable discussion for the DAO to be having.

Some questions and concerns:

  • Covariance seems to be a new organization - how does the DAO know you will accomplish what you say you can?
    • In a way this is the crux of the issue with DAO grants in the first place - getting grant funds upfront means the DAO may waste funds on unfinished projects, but leaving it to milestone-based or retrofunding puts more burden on grantees to the point where good potential contributors might forego the process altogether. Can you set up your proposal in a way that takes you through the same process that you will put others through?
  • How does the current grants team fit into all this? Without their buy-in, it could create a lot of friction that reduces chance of success for your project.
    • is there a way you could do a small test run for your project with this round’s grantees to show the effectiveness? Having a small pilot could do a lot to prove your value
  • I don’t think it’s possible to compensate people in SAFE at the moment. I suggested it during the original grants proposal and was told it wasn’t possible.

Ultimately I do see the problem you are trying to address, and I certainly believe SAFE grants are set up to have the same problems that other grant programs have. Creating a system of fostering long-term relationships between grantors and grantees is (IMHO) the best approach to avoid wasting DAO resources while attracting the best and brightest web3 builders.

The catch is that fostering relationships takes resources. SafeDAO does have resources, but the previous grant proposal discussion didn’t end up capturing enough support to actually put those resources to work for this type of activity.

I hope your effort succeeds because without this vital link between grantors and builders the grants process will continue to be a struggle. Put another way: if our grants process isn’t set up for long-term engagement, we won’t attract long-term builders.


Thanks @links for sharing your questions. let me try to add some color and address the concerns:

Covariance is a new venture, but portfolio support with Collider Ventures was what I’ve been doing full time in the past ~2 years. During this time I had the chance to work directly and indirectly with the Safe team in helping promote Safe.
I left to found Covariance in order to solve exactly these problems - How can value add be scaled up better with the right incentives and community involvement. My actions should be a good signal to this community it’s not another “free rider” type of funding request.

I hope my resume as the founder and initiator can give some confidence to the community. Further testimonials or recommendations can be shared per need

As with any grant, there is no guarantee for success but there is 100% intention and wish to make it a success!

I’ve shared the link to the “about us” page in the proposal, and sharing a snapshot here.

Yes! the proposal is structured in 3 parts, and definitely intended to split funding accordingly upon completion of each phase. thanks for asking for this clarification.
I’ll work on splitting the budget accordingly.

I had conversation with several stakeholders and overall received positive feedback on the proposed concept. The initiative comes to help the ecosystem and be a multiplier to their ability to support the builders, so I see it as a win-win for everyone, and I’m looking forward getting the grants team comments here as well!

This is the intention - once grantees are announced, we intend to “onboard” them by conducting an interview with each team to better understand their stage & needs
The other part is working with the ecosystem team and community to map the existing resources (people + knowledge)

I assume we can implement the same approach as done with the grants committee, and defer that part to a later stage upon token transferability.
It is important component to have though, since this pool will also serve to reward ecosystem members for contribute and participate in helping the grantees

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Thanks for putting this proposal together.

some thoughts.

The Safe Grant Program outlined a detailed execution and operations flow to maximize the impact of the Grant program. There is a Grant Committee to oversee things. My suggestions is that the program needs to launch and go through a first cycle to get metrics of what worked and what didn’t.

As it stands, there is no retrospective whatsoever on the Grant Program to determine whether this is needed or not. So how do we determine a missing piece when the program hasn’t completed a first cycle of sort?


I think this is a great initiative.

In general I think SafeDAO should delegate whole ecosystem features like grant programs to sub-entities with KPIs and accountability.
(I’m in the camp of much less decision making by the actual DAO, and more delegation + KPIs)

My personal experiance (Both reciving and giving grants) is that the vast majority of grant programs fail because

(1) Failed Marketing — Grants program is treated as marketing resulting in poorly spent funds
(2) Beaurcracy — Grant program becomes way too complex and inconsistant that the overhead to apply is too big for teams to actually try and utilze it.
(3) Failed integration — Onboarding to the ‘internal’ ecosystem is poor or non existant, the grantees do not have the tools to succeed, and ultimately either build something that does not benefit the ecosystem or simply fail.
(4) Acountability — Making sure the funds or resources allocated are actually being used in a way that even when the initial target changes (it always changes) there is still value flowing back to the ecosystem.

I think this initative could actually benefit 2,3 and 4. (assuming #1 is not the case because its not salvageable)

On Lior and the team.
I’m biased, because I’ve worked with Lior in Both DAOstack and Collider. He’s brings crucial pratices on to build sustainable programs and seen him deliver deep, focused, and meaningful value to numerous projects and protocols, He’s also well known and respected across the ecosystem.


Thank you for taking the time to draft this concept @Liorg!

I agree on your opportunity stated.

Create an ecosystem support organization complementary to the Safe Grants Program

E.g. Funding, Technical development & audits, Business development & growth, Legal & compliance, Operations, Talent acquisition, etc.

This concept seems potentially similar to Longhash’s accelerator program designed to help teams after the grants program take their projects to the next level or for advanced teams outside of the grants program too.

Post grants programs

I could see having many paths for teams to take to partner with organizations like Covariance, Longhash, and hopefully more to come, post the grants program. This could be a network of options available to teams. The way I would see this working is teams and organizations going through a matching process based on their individual needs, orgs like Covariance and Longhash’s resources, expertise, and etc.

Under this concept teams could choose to accept grants, investment, etc. from Covariance after the grants program in turn for their partnership.

Working with the grants program

It would be great to find opportunities to leverage Covariance’s expertise during the grants program. This could potentially be a research or growth grant proposal within the grants program.

In a grants proposal it will be important to know how the Covariance team would work with the existing grants council team for each milestone of the current grants program. If not feasible for Wave 1, which launched internally on Aug 10, perhaps this could be planned for Wave 2.

  • Safe core team council lead
  • Safe core team ecosystem lead
  • Safe core team developer relations lead
  • Safe community technical lead
  • Safe community product lead
  • Safe community wildcard lead


@links is correct regarding SAFE token rewards not being to be allocated until they are transferable and voted on by the SafeDAO, a separate organization than the Safe Ecosystem Foundation. I had the same question about SAFE token rewards for the Safe Grants Council community members too. The way this will work for us is a SafeDAO proposal will be submitted to vote on SAFE token allocations based on the councils contributions.

The proposed funding of $100k+ USD is likely outside the scope of grants within the Safe Grants Program Wave 1, according to the Safe Ecosystem Foundation. $100k USD is roughly > 60% of the rough estimate allocated to Growth Grants for Wave 1. It would be interesting to see how much potential impact is possible given a $50k EUR grant.

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@thinkDecade let me clarify something here - the proposal in no way suggest the grant program isn’t structured well ! It does highlight that by design, the scope of neither the grant committee nor the ecosystem team is to actively work with the grantees and proactively identify opportunities that can benefit them and their project, and this is where we believe there’s tremendous value to unlock.

To your point, my experience as outlined in the proposal showed me times and times again that

  1. Founders benefit from having support outside their own core teams/ circles (we do not invent the wheel - it happens with VC support, accelerators, various builders communities, advisors etc…)
  2. Most of the times, it’s a simple coordination problem of identifying needs → surface them → find potential solution.

What I’ve also witnessed is that this require:

  1. Attention (who has a KPI to constantly look after that project?)
  2. Capacity (who has the time and resource to invest in doing so?
  3. Motivation (who has the motivation - value align, strategic and financial incentive to do so)

These are the 3 components Covariance will fill. We believe that by being that focal point, we can create opportunities that otherwise would not have created, and we believe that at an early stage - those can be a game changer for a success of a project

Sorry for the long reply, but I hope this add some color and context

Actively work with the grantees and proactively identify opportunities that can benefit them and their project

One of the main goals the next few weeks leading up to the Sep 6, deadline for proposal submissions, is to provide teams feedback on the opportunities they’re working on. We’re currently going through proposals in both the Feedback and Evaluation phases to provide comments directly. Previously identified opportunities will also be updated this week.

Additional support if crafted well would further benefit builders who need the extra guidance and resources. This could be integrated into the grants program for future iterations or crafted into it’s own program post grants for exceptional teams.

There’s 3 more grants open community calls the next 2 weeks which could be useful to join. We had the 1st today answering questions from current and prospective grants applicants.


Thank you Lior for bringing forward this thoughtful proposal! Following our call earlier today, I want to take the opportunity to put my feedback in writing, ensuring we all have the same information and clarity moving forward.

SafeDAO Treasury
First some general remarks to funding requests to SafeDAO, which are not specific to this proposal. Any funding by SafeDAO should consider the financial situation of the DAO.
The SafeDAO Treasury has been allocated in total 400M token with 50M token available right away. The rest of the 350M tokens is vested over 8 years (see “:parachute: Safe Token” and “:bank: Treasury” in the SafeDAO Governance Hub). While these numbers seem substantial, we need to consider two aspects:

  1. The Safe token is currently non-transferable and therefore there is no price history
  2. The Safe Treasury consists 100% of its own native token. Referencing Hasu’s blog post, this can lead to misconceptions about a DAO’s real treasury valuation.

Given these points, currently any valuation of the SafeDAO treasury and allocating a budget is at least not straightforward. When it comes to specific funding asks in USDC, there is another hurdle – SafeDAO has no USDC in its treasury. USDC requests would imply that SafeDAO needs to sell SAFE for USDC first to then allocate them to initiatives. This should be part of a broader discussion around resource allocation and treasury management.

Resource allocation framework
On this note, in SEP #3 SafeDAO decided that before considering transferability and funding initiatives there should be a resource allocation framework in place. @pet3rpan-1kx made a suggestion with OBRA that allows SafeDAO to align first on strategies which initiatives to fund and which connect to the overarching goals (see constitution) while implementing checks and balances, such as a review period. It would be problematic to vote now on an initiative which might only be funded after transferability and which was approved before any resource allocation framework.

Safe Grants Program
Fostering a vibrant ecosystem is of the outmost importance for Safe and one of the constitutional goals. Therefore the Safe Ecosystem Foundation set up the Safe Grants Program committing 1M USD in grants and setting it under the governance of SafeDAO. It’s worth noting that the SGP does not allocate Safe token, but can be complimented at a later stage with retroactive token allocation. So for the time being, the Safe Grants Program is the best way to get initiatives funded.

For this proposal, I think there are two possible courses of actions, which can be combined:

  1. Consider revising the scope and apply for a maximum grant of 50k USD as a Safe {Growth} Grant. In total 30% of the wave 1 budget (approx. 150k USD) has been allocated to the {Growth} category.
  2. Alternatively or in combination at a later stage: apply for an initiative under the resource allocation framework, once SafeDAO ratified it and agreed on specific strategies and the transferability of the Safe token has been enabled.

I hope this breakdown clarifies things for everyone from a resource allocation perspective. Thanks again, Lior, for bringing forward this proposal and initiating this discussion. Exciting to see what you’re building!


Thanks Adam for your valuable feedback!

The accelerator program Longhash has launched for Safe is a great initiative! I actually spoke with @Emerson about it while preparing this proposal. I see this proposal complementary to accelerator / incubator programs - and indeed one of the ideas discussed with Emerson was for Covariance to possibly work with the fellowship program builders as well.

To highlight some differences:

  1. It is open and serves all grantees and not just those who are accepted to the accelerator
  2. Not limited to incorporated entities - individuals or group of builders can participate before they have decided on their commercial path forward
  3. builders don’t have to decide to give up on token/equity to participate
  4. It focuses on identifying opportunities within the Safe ecosystem, so helps drive more engagement and knowledge sharing

Working closely with the grantees can help feed the Longhash accelerator with knowledge & learnings about the grantees when they consider to invest in them.

Yes, considering the budget limitation for Wave1 and token transferability limitation, and following the conversation and comments from @Andre we will evaluate this path

The proposal consist of 3 stages and a budget estimate to deliver it end to end, all while building the foundations of Covariance to continue and scale later. We’ll review to define a narrower scope, that allows us to experiment with the idea of community-led value-add a support, under the above constrains.

Thanks for your inputs and feedback!


Hey Lior,

Long time no chat. Nice to see you here.

Primary feedback is operational. Other posters have pointed out that (1) SafeDAO has neither USDC (2) nor does SAFE have a market value at the moment.

I see these two items as needing to be solved prior to running a grants program, or programs (e.g. Covariance) to support grantees. It doesn’t seem like (1+2) will be solved or worked on by the timeline you’ve proposed.

I’m highlighting this as I personally feel these two items should be higher priority, as they are strong dependencies prolonging expansionary ecosystem proposals (including your own).


Happy to see this proposal being put up @Liorg

I definitely think that having external teams with clear KPI and responsibilities is important in order to extend the SAFE DAO (and any DAO in general) - so I’m always happy to see a community member putting its foot forward and proposing to help.

I have no doubt that Lior and his team are highly qualified to deliver this proposal. Having worked with Lior for more than a year and a half at Collider. I have personally witnessed the impact Lior had on our portfolio founders, helping and mentoring them through the journey of building a company.

But on top of being capable and experienced, Lior has also shown through his committment at Collider and his actions that he is very enthusiastic about the SAFE ecosystem and wants to attract more builders to extend its functionality. I think this is key for anyone looking to get involved within a DAO and I’m glad to see Lior take his committment to the SAFE ecosystem one step further.

I’ll be supporting @Liorg in any way possible!

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