The Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy identified knowledge equity as a key pillar for our collective work in the years ahead. While our conversations of how to achieve this goal are ongoing, the Wikimedia Foundation has identified a pilot program to learn about how other organizations tackle these very critical and complex questions.
Launched last September, the Equity Fund is an experiment to help us learn about approaches that can break down the barriers to free knowledge experienced by Black, Indigenous, and communities of color around the world. After the first round of grant recipients were announced, we began asking for input and feedback to shape our second round of funding this year. With that now in hand, we are reaching out with two asks:
#1 Recommendations from Wikimedia communities of potential grantees (by February 18): Are you familiar with the work of established organizations who can help us learn more about knowledge equity? If yes, we would welcome your recommendations and suggestions through an intake form available on Google survey and LimeSurvey. We’ll be taking suggestions through February 18. Thank you to those that have already submitted recommendations: we have received over 15 suggestions so far that we will evaluate as part of the second round. We will post the full list of suggestions on our Meta page as well. Round 2 grantees will receive funding by June 2022.
As a reminder, potential grantees must meet the following criteria:
- They must be a recognized nonprofit, as the Equity Fund can not give grants to for-profit commercial entities or individuals.
- They must have a proven track record of impact. We are looking to learn from established organizations with a proven track record, and are not able to support organizations which are still determining how to assess their impact.
- They must align with one of five focus areas:
- Supporting scholarship & advocacy focused on free knowledge and racial equity
- Supporting media and journalism efforts focused on people of color around the world, in order to expand reliable media sources covering these communities
- Addressing unequal internet access
- Improving digital literacy skills that impede access to knowledge
- Investing in non-traditional records of knowledge (i.e. oral histories)
- Equity Fund grants are a one-time financial grant for a one- or two-year term, so grantees must be able to sustain themselves beyond this grant. It is not intended to provide a source of ongoing funding.
#2 Additional Feedback on Improving the Process: Choosing the first round of grantees was a learning experience as we navigated the needs of potential applicants, explored the areas of racial inequity within the free knowledge movement, and continued to refine the requirements for grants. We joined movement conversations which allowed us to hear questions about the regional concentration of our grantees and ways to increase community participation in Equity Fund decisions.
In response, we have worked to create more predictable timelines for future rounds of funding. We will also be expanding the Equity Fund Committee to include three more community members who are interested in contributing and participating. The Committee will increase from its current seven members (5 Foundation staff, 2 volunteers) to ten members (5 Foundation staff, 5 volunteers). Each Committee member will be asked to make a one-year commitment to supporting the Equity Fund and evaluating future grantees. We will share more about these new Committee members soon.
As we continue to experiment with mechanisms for implementation of the 2030 movement strategy, the Equity Fund is one tool to help us understand how others are tackling one of the most critical issues facing the free knowledge ecosystem. We look forward to hearing your questions and recommendations on Meta.