Launching the first grants from the Wikimedia Endowment to support technical innovation in Wikimedia Projects

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When the Wikimedia Endowment was first launched in 2016, its aim was to create a permanent fund to support Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, sustaining the mission of our movement— to ensure that people can freely share and access knowledge into the future. Now in 2023, the Endowment has reached an important, initial stage of development: a portion of its investment income will be used to support technical innovation of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. 

The Wikimedia Endowment Board is pleased to announce the projects that will receive grant funding from the Wikimedia Endowment in fiscal year 2022-2023. These projects are: 

Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions

Abstract Wikipedia, a project that aims to build a knowledge base independent of language, will be awarded a grant of $1 million. The project will make it easier to share, add, translate, and improve knowledge across languages on Wikipedia, improving the quality and quantity of multilingual content across wikis. Wikifunctions is the underlying technical infrastructure that supports the project. Abstract Wikipedia’s technical development is led by the Wikimedia Foundation.


Kiwix, an offline reader for Wikipedia content, will be awarded a grant of $250,000. Kiwix is a nonprofit that makes online access to knowledge available to people with no or limited internet access. The software as well as the content is free to use for anyone. Kiwix has more than 4 million users in over 200 countries and territories.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning, a programmatic area of Wikimedia work, will be awarded a grant of $950,000. Funding will go to building and strengthening the AI and machine learning infrastructure that supports editors. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Machine Learning team runs this infrastructure, which powers the machine learning models developed by volunteers and other Foundation teams. On Wikimedia projects, this work involves applying algorithms to measure the quality of Wikipedia articles or seek out incidents of vandalism. Such features enable volunteers to focus on editorial decisions that require more complex human judgment. 


Wikidata, a multilingual knowledge base integrated with Wikipedia, will be awarded a grant of $1 million. Wikidata is the most-edited Wikimedia project, with over 100 million items. It is a project that can connect knowledge more easily with automated programs, voice assistants, and other interfaces that do not exist yet. Wikidata’s development and technical infrastructure are primarily supported by Wikimedia Deutschland. While the grant will go to the Wikimedia Foundation, it will fund the existing multi-year plan that is led by Wikimedia Deutschland in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation.

How the Wikimedia Endowment works

The Wikimedia Endowment is first and foremost, an investment fund. That means that donations to the Endowment are invested in financial markets. A portion of the gains from those investments is reinvested to grow the Endowment over time, and a portion of the fund can be used as funding for Wikimedia projects and the free knowledge movement. The Endowment Board supported funding technical projects this year to help advance the infrastructure of Wikimedia projects. This important grantmaking milestone in the Endowment’s evolution has been built step by step with steady actions taken throughout the past seven years to strengthen the Wikimedia Endowment’s governance and structure. These steps include the Endowment reaching its initial funding milestone, welcoming new Board members, achieving its independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and other crucial governance updates, including the creation of Board committees and operational policies.

How the focus on technical innovation was determined

In a series of interviews with Endowment donors, the Endowment Board and Advancement staff at the Wikimedia Foundation heard repeatedly about the desire to use their donations to support technical innovation to keep the Wikimedia projects relevant in a rapidly-evolving world. The focus on technical innovation also supports the Endowment’s long-term vision for maintaining the projects, including sustainable technical infrastructure. The projects chosen align with current and existing work being done to improve and innovate on Wikimedia projects in collaboration with volunteers. For these initial Endowment grants, projects that are current priorities for the Wikimedia Foundation and community were chosen for support, in alignment with the existing Foundation annual plan and technical roadmap. Ongoing technical development forms the backbone infrastructure of the Wikimedia projects, now and into the future, and continuing development in these areas will help ensure that the projects remain stable and innovative in line with the Endowment’s mission of supporting the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. 

The Grantmaking and Community Committee of the Endowment Board is responsible for general oversight of the Endowment’s grantmaking strategy, funding recommendations, evaluation and reporting, and community affairs. It includes myself (Phoebe Ayers) as Chair, alongside Patricio Lorente. The grants were approved by the full Endowment Board.

About the Wikimedia Endowment

Launched in 2016 to support the future of Wikimedia projects, the Wikimedia Endowment is a permanent fund that supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in times of uncertainty and enables long-term investments to support their growth and innovation. To support the development of the Endowment in its next chapter, the Endowment was established as an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2022. 

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Thank you for sharing. Does the machine learning component include any work on AI?

Hello Thuvack! The machine learning group page on Mediawiki: and the links there to Phabricator and the talk page have the most up to date info about the various projects the team is working on. The grant is not at the level of detail about what specific things the group should be working on; that said I know that the ML team (and the research team) are following things like AI assisted search and other developments that might impact Wikimedia and thinking about how they could help editors too.

Thank you for the update. I have to say that I was quite surprised to learn that the Wikimedia Endowment doesn’t just have one and only one grant recipient, namely the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual budget. Don’t we already have bodies and processes to allocate resources (and aren’t we currently working on reforming them)? It sounds odd to me that the Wikimedia Endowment now determines its own priorities that are separate than those of the rest of the Wikimedia Movement.

Hi Gnom! Thanks for your comment. The reasoning here is the endowment wanted to focus on infrastructure and technical innovation in particular; this matches the endowment’s specific mission of supporting the projects for the long term. Within that area, we picked projects that have already been prioritized and supported in a variety of ways in the past, by the community and the WMF annual planning process, so we weren’t just dictating new priorities for the movement. That said, this is the first year of grants; we’ll look at whether this worked or didn’t for future years and decide whether this… Read more »