Each month, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are viewed more than 22 billion times, by people from all around the world looking for up to date, reliable information. In order to grow and add to the sum of all knowledge, the Wikimedia projects rely on a healthy, substantive network of citations, research and journalism. In 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the Knowledge Equity Fund, a pilot program to invest in the larger information ecosystem that underpins the Wikimedia projects. The Knowledge Equity Fund was created with a focus on investing in and addressing knowledge gaps based on racial inequity and barriers to free knowledge experienced by Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities around the world. Today, we are announcing the next round of nominations for future Equity Fund grantees and welcome your suggestions and ideas. Nominations for the third round will be open through February 29.
This new round includes a few key changes to the Equity Fund:
1. Developing stronger connections with the Wikimedia projects and the movement
Over the past several months, the Knowledge Equity Fund Committee has solicited feedback from Wikimedia communities on our approach to supporting knowledge equity. We hosted an open community call on October 6 to share more about our approach and discuss ideas for future knowledge equity grants. We also hosted a call with groups around the movement focused on knowledge equity on November 13 to understand how to best support their work. Through these conversations, we heard consistent feedback about the need to connect grantees and their work more closely with the Wikimedia projects.
For the next round, once Equity Fund grantees are chosen, they will be paired up with Wikimedia contributors, including user groups, thematic groups and affiliates. We began this work with our Round 2 grantees, and will expand as we head into Round 3. This will allow grantees to learn more about the Wikimedia projects and how their work can impact and more immediately address knowledge gaps. We recognize we can do more to build those connections and drive direct impact to the Wikimedia projects, which will in turn benefit our mission of free knowledge.
2. Introducing Connected Grants with external organizations and Wikimedia groups
With this round, we will be piloting a new type of grant from the Knowledge Equity Fund. In addition to original Equity Fund grants that continue to be given to external organizations, we are introducing Connected Grants, which is a bundle of two grants given to two organizations.
Lead recipients of Knowledge Equity Fund Connected Grants will continue to be organizations that are external to the movement, and the second part of the grant will be given to a Wikimedia movement group that has an established relationship with the external organization or partner in order to support their work with that external partner. The purpose of Connected Grants will still be to close knowledge gaps through supporting the creation and sharing of knowledge through external organizations.
For example, a Wikimedia affiliate can nominate a GLAM organization focused on collecting archives of indigenous history that they already work with for a Connected Grant. The Connected Grant will be given to the GLAM organization and to the affiliate to support their partnership work.
We encourage Wikimedia affiliates and user groups to nominate organizations they already work with for Connected Grants. Connected Grant nominees must be based in the same region as the movement group and/or work on supporting the same community or group. You can submit nominations through this form, and answer the additional questions for Connected Grants if it is for a connected grant. Eligibility criteria for all grantees, including for Connected Grants, will continue to remain the same.
3. Clarifying the impact of the Knowledge Equity Fund
Because the Knowledge Equity Fund was created to support organizations outside of the movement that are contributing to the wider information ecosystem, it’s been difficult to be precise about the impact that Equity Fund grants have had on the Wikimedia projects. We are funding changes to the ecosystem which need to be considered on a longer time horizon in order to see change. This may mean that we are talking about different measures of impact – such as activities with equity-based outcomes, instead of specified content metrics.
For all grantees moving forward (including our recent Round 2 grantees), we will include a summary of how their organization currently measures impact and how it is related to knowledge equity. Knowledge Equity Fund grants are general operating grants that fund the organization’s overall work, so their current measures for impact will inform the future impact they can have. We will also continue to publish annual reports of each grantee.
As we move into our next round, we will also be making some changes to the makeup of the Knowledge Equity Fund Committee, which is the Committee of Wikimedia Foundation staff and Wikimedia volunteers that make decisions about the Equity Fund. These changes include welcoming a new committee member, Lead Counsel Shaun Spalding, to replace Foundation staff who are departing the committee. Shaun is an IP and tech attorney currently working as Lead Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation’s Brand and Partnerships teams. He has been a cheerleader for open licensing, decentralized communities, and free knowledge since his career began. Shaun was previously Assistant Director of New Media Rights, a digital rights non-profit that represents creators working on educational or innovative projects who may not otherwise be able to afford legal services.
The Knowledge Equity Fund continues to spend down the remainder of the initial funding that was set aside 3 years ago to fund knowledge equity. No new funds have been added to the Fund since then.
As we look ahead, please nominate organizations that you work with, existing partnerships you would like to expand on or other organizations that are committed to addressing racial barriers to knowledge and expanding free knowledge. To learn more about the criteria for Equity Fund grantees and the upcoming community conversations to ask questions about the next round, you can also check out Meta.
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