The French revolutionary Georges Danton famously said, "After bread, education is the people's first need."  And while the French Revolution and the channel may not have much in common, there are few places in which this populist message resonates better than the open source ecosystem, where providing development and other skills to volunteer contributors is vital to long-term success—which is exactly what the Linux Foundation is doing starting this week with its 2013 Linux Training Scholarship Program.

The program, which launched in 2011, provides free access to the Linux Foundation's training programs (for which the organization otherwise charges fees) for selected contributors to Linux and related software projects "who show incredible promise for building Linux careers and shaping the future of the operating system." This year, the program will award funding to five groups of contributors in particular:

  • Whiz Kids
  • Women in Linux
  • SysAdmin Super Stars
  • Developer Do-Gooders
  • Linux Kernel Gurus

These areas are all vital to the future of Linux development. But perhaps most interesting in the second category in the list, since women—with notable exceptions—currently enjoy very limited prominence in the open source world.  By bringing its influence and funds to bear on this issue, the Linux Foundation could help ensure that an important pool of IT talent is not lost on the open source community.

This educational push is also significant for the channel, especially given the remarkable demand (and higher pay) for IT personnel with Linux skills in the enterprise that the Linux Foundation reported earlier this year. It's a signal that consortiums within the open source ecosystem remain committed to continuining the development of the Linux skill base.

The Linux Foundation is accepting applications for the scholarship program starting June 18 and will continue through July 23. With more than 500 applications submitted last year, the competition is likely to be tight, but it promises to pay dividends for both the scholarship recipients and the channel as a whole.