There are people who would like to spend more time doing Drupal contrib work but who cannot financially justify taking time off commercial work or minding the kids (or other demands of life) in order to do so. These are often highly skilled and experienced members of the Drupal community.
There is an opportunity to make it financially (and otherwise) viable for these contributors to choose to do Drupal contrib work by helping them find commercial sponsorship, primarily from companies who benefit from Drupal being a better product and a stronger more active community.
By providing a mechanism for one or more contributors to define a project and it's benefits and then helping promote this opportunity to companies in the community who may be willing/able to support these projects, we can help make Drupal more amazing, more quickly.
All work done under this initiative is contributed freely back to the community. Sponsoring companies have no rights to direct the work being undertaken although they are welcome to provide insight/feedback as to their particular requirements.
This is a contributor led system resulting in output that is available freely to the entire Drupal community. Contributions of all types would be supported by this system including design, code, documentation, support / training, marketing, research, etc.
(pls note, this is a MASSIVE edit of the original post for the sake of coherence. Pls check revisions if you want to get a sense of how this project has progressed since it's initial posting if that is not entirely clear from the commentary below).