Wikijunior/proposal to Beck Foundation

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Over the past three years, the Wikimedia Foundation has become the world's most outstanding repository of knowledge. Our projects include the largest encyclopedia in history (Wikipedia), with over one million articles in over 100 languages (including 370,000 articles in English alone). We also have a multilingual dictionary project (Wiktionary), a collection of notable quotations (Wikiquote), and new textbooks on a broad range of subjects (Wikibooks). All of these are available online and free of charge. Perhaps most remarkably, all of these have been created by a dedicated international staff of volunteers, devoted to the principle that knowledge must be shared freely.

We are now embarking on a new effort, with the working title of "Wikijunior." Like Wikipedia, this will be an free open-content encyclopedia available online and in print. The difference is in both our range of topics and our target audience: this project is aimed at children with a reading age of between eight and 11, covering topics of special interest and importance to children, including astronomy, history, biology, countries of the world, and many other topics.

Wikijunior will be an invaluable resource, where children can look up reliable information for use in school projects, homework, and for their own enjoyment. Like our other projects, new information will be added constantly, so that even the most frequent visitors will always find something new and exciting. At the same time, we plan on combining the best of these articles into an extensive series of topical pamphlets, which will be distributed freely or at minimal cost, particularly in developing regions. These pamphlets will contain a wealth of information, laid out in an intuitive, colorful style. The content will revolve around key questions, answers, and themes that are common to many articles. This information will be equally relevant and accessible worldwide, to children in the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, or anywhere.

To launch this project, we would like to release our first pamphlet of 48 full-color pages (8½" by 11") on a topic related to animals by December 2005 (other projects will be released more frequently). As a trial run, we foresee printing 5,000 pamphlets for worldwide distribution.

We are grateful to the Beck Foundation for considering the possibility of providing us with the funding to start this project. A grant of $10,000 will enable us to launch Wikijunior. We believe that children everywhere have an inherent love of knowledge. Your assistance will help us to share this knowledge and help us to educate a new generation of eager learners.

I will be happy to answer any questions you might have about this and any other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sincerely,

Danny Wool
Acting Coordinator of Grants
The Wikimedia Foundation