Update: Sakai Executive Korcuska has a more detailed blog post about what the Mellon Foundation is actually doing and the impact (or lack thereof) on Sakai.
There’s been a fair bit of hand wringing online about today’s piece in the Chronicle indicating that the Mellon Foundation will be “eliminating” it’s Research in Information Technology grant program “as a stand-alone entity.” Chronicle writer Marc Perry has positioned this as a “potential blow to open source software.” It’s not terribly surprising that Mellon, like many foundations, is forced to trim and focus its grant giving in this tough economic environment. As is noted in the article (but buried halfway down after a few paragraphs of somewhat breathless reporting), Mellon is not planning to stop giving money for the development of open source educational software altogether. They are reorganizing and trimming, but not stopping.
Perhaps more importantly for the Sakai community and the Sakai-curious, Sakai has not received Mellon funding (to my knowledge) for a few years now and is not dependent on it. So this announcement, while unfortunate, has no impact on Sakai’s development or its future.