Grants:Project/BlackLunchTable/BLT 2018/Midpoint

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Report accepted
This midpoint report for a Project Grant approved in FY 2017-18 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Project/BlackLunchTable/BLT 2018.
  • You may still review or add to the discussion about this report on its talk page.
  • You are welcome to email projectgrants(_AT_) at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.

Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learning from the grantee's first 3 months.


Felton Kizer, Amanda Harth, and Peter Anastos at MCA Chicago edit-a-thon photobooth run by Ireashia Bennett

In a few short sentences or bullet points, give the main highlights of what happened with your project so far.

  • We hosted our first events off the continent!
  • We've developed our photo initiative which has been productive (and fun!)
  • We are cultivating sustainable partnerships with cultural and civic institutions
  • We applied to be an official Wiki affiliated User Group !

Methods and activities[edit]

How have you setup your project, and what work has been completed so far?

Describe how you've set up your experiment or pilot, sharing your key focuses so far and including links to any background research or past learning that has guided your decisions. List and describe the activities you've undertaken as part of your project to this point.


  • Ongoing Meetup Page - We continue to organize and document through our Meetup Page on Wikipedia.
  • User Group - We have applied to be an official Wikimedia affiliated User Group.
  • Monthly online BLT Meeting of core team members

Research & Development[edit]

  • Studied what demographic and geographical areas are underrepresented in our scope.
  • Created goals for tracking new users, assistance and outreach
  • Planned and produced events, campaigns and outreach
  • Connected our coder and metadata assistant to Wikimedia via WikiCon North America

Project Outreach & Growth[edit]

Midpoint outcomes[edit]

Artist Simone Leigh by photographer Tiffiany I. Smith submitted for our Juneteenth Photo Challenge
Artist Okechukwu Okegrass Ofiaeli at Southeast Queens Library editathon photobooth by photographer Kearra Gopee.

What are the results of your project or any experiments you’ve worked on so far?

Please discuss anything you have created or changed (organized, built, grown, etc) as a result of your project to date.


  • BLT participated in 34 events, 28 of those were hosted by us.
  • Engaged 154 editors
  • Trained 74 new editors
  • Monthly Meetup in which we’ve engaged 20 users with online training
  • 167 new articles begun.
  • 896 existing articles edited.
  • 589 images uploaded
Artist Sajda Musawwir Ladner at BLT photobooth pop up by photographer Imara Moore.
Cultural worker and Schomburg resident, Denisse Andrade, at BLT event photobooth at Schomburg Center for Black Culture by photographer Andrea Cauthen.

Photo Campaigns + WikiCommons[edit]

  • BLT Photo Booth
    • Most of our events feature a photo booth, offering professional photography for artists on our task list who are missing images on their Wikipedia pages.
    • We worked with professional Black women photographers Kearra Gopee, Imara Moore, Ireashia Bennet, Tiffany I. Smith, Zalika Azim and Andrea Cauthen to run our photo booths that document artists with Wikipedia articles missing images.
    • These pop-up events educate the public about Wikipedia, by creating a space to document people with Wikipedia pages and no photos, in a space where they don’t need to commit their time as an editor.
  • Academic campaign empowering photo students to document historical figures
    • Identifying articles missing images (living Black artists)
    • Preemptively contacting these notable artists to gauge their interest and match-make with student and photographer
    • Training students and photographers on how to upload their photos and add them to Wikipedia pages educates them on using WikiCommons and inspires continuing contribution to Wiki.
  • Social media campaign coordinated contributions and education remotely.
    • We used hashtags to educate the public on the lack of visibility of Black artists in Wikimedia.
    • Photo Challenge (our first!) competition to upload the best photo of a Black artist during the challenge period (determined by crowd-sourced voting)


  • Our mission is based in contributing to the creation of a more equitable Wikipedia. We have considered how our project translates between languages and cultures, both literally and in response to different cultural priorities or gaps in knowledge.


Please take some time to update the table in your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed all approved and actual expenditures as instructed. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided there to explain them.

Then, answer the following question here: Have you spent your funds according to plan so far? Please briefly describe any major changes to budget or expenditures that you anticipate for the second half of your project.

  • Generally we have spent most of our funding as planned so far.
  • We expected to have spent more of the funds for the Project Manager and Proxy roles by now. These positions have proven challenging to fill, so we have not spent that yet and plan to increase the hours for those positions in the spring to make up for that.
  • We actually spend more money on transportation than expected and realize we didn't write that into our budget, so are considering asking to reduce event:food budget, since that has often been covered by our host institutions, and adding some to a new line item event:transportation to reflect our reality.
  • In retrospect PR and bookkeeping take more expertise and time than we anticipated and in the future we should likely think about separate line items for those.


The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you are taking enough risks to learn something really interesting! Please use the below sections to describe what is working and what you plan to change for the second half of your project.

What are the challenges[edit]

What challenges or obstacles have you encountered? What will you do differently going forward? Please list these as short bullet points.

Challenges we've faced...[edit]

  • Hiring Project Manager - finding the people with Wiki experience and the right fit for our project has been challenging. Therefore the Lead Organizers have taken up this work and therefore have been spread quite thin. The amount of information about organizing Wiki projects and the wide variety of locations where that info lives is dense and we really need to delegation of all that to one person, the Project Manager. We are currently shifting focus to both targeting experienced editors to recruit and looking for organizers who fit with our project that might be willing to do the work in becoming new Wiki editors so they can be up to speed with what the project needs. Most of our goals are dependent on finding this hire and them helping to strategize reaching those goals.
  • Hiring Regional Proxies - finding committed editors who want to organize in different cities has proven more challenging than expected. We have hired one of our editors who is more nomadic than we wanted for a regional proxy to organize in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, her hometowns. We have discovered that some of our more committed editors are not comfortable as organizers, or in the spotlight, so finding an organizer who fits our project might be better if they are willing to put in editing hours and train, but this would be a longer process. We are currently working on researching and recruiting existing editors who may not know about our project search.
  • Attendance - We are finding it challenging, at times, to get editors to attend. Often we have verbal confirmation and excitement from editors who don't show up. We have found that working with a host institution with an existing public works best, so we are investing time in relationships with institutions and repeat events. We still believe it is important to think creatively to help Wikimedia be more accessible. So we have also been discussing the idea of a public relations campaign, and have been trying to think creatively about equity and incentives, but want to save these kinds of decisions until we have hired our Project Manager.
  • Assessment - A more thorough study of our outcomes and editors would be useful. We know tools exist, but navigating them has been challenging. We are beginning to to experiment with surveys and more creative forms of feedback. We plan to organize this better with the new Project Manager.

What is working well...[edit]

What have you found works best so far? To help spread successful strategies so that they can be of use to others in the movement, rather than writing lots of text here, we'd like you to share your finding in the form of a link to a learning pattern.

Next steps and opportunities[edit]

What are the next steps and opportunities you’ll be focusing on for the second half of your project? Please list these as short bullet points. If you're considering applying for a 6-month renewal of this grant at the end of your project, please also mention this here.

    • Project Manager
      • Strategizing outreach
      • Strategizing use of tools, talk page tags, mailing lists
      • Developing our long-term project goals
      • Connecting strategically and meaningfully with more related Wiki Projects and chapters
    • 2 more Regional Proxies
      • We have one Proxy who's begun a series of events in Trinidad/Tobago & Jamaica
      • We are still looking for Proxies in regions we have not yet reached (American South/North-west, South Eastern US, Canada, Europe)
      • Working with proxies is a core component of this part of our project development and enables us to expand our target list (including artists local to that proxy), and engage other publics & new users not yet involved.
      • Working with proxies also means that this work/outreach is being facilitated by editors local to communities, engaging their own publics and institutions in learning.
  • Connecting with the Foundation for advice about tools and strategies after we have hired a Project Manager.
    • We are excited to continue learning about other things to implement but want to focus on what is most critical for our specific project.
    • We are looking forward to developing this in collaboration with our Project Manager, who will contribute to shaping the longterm/short term vision for the project and developing the plan for execution.
  • Expanding our project into an annual effort and applying for an Annual Plan Grant!

Grantee reflection[edit]

Jimmy Wales and Black Lunch Table Founders at Wikimania 2018

We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on how the experience of being a grantee has been so far. What is one thing that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed from the past 3 months?

  • We have been surprised at the difficulty in finding hires!
  • The independence we have is both welcomed and intimidating. We have folks ready to give us advice as we move forward, but we need to hire a Project Manager before we are ready for that.
  • Loved the Bootcamp in DC that we attended but really need hackathon space within something like that where we can actually put some tools into practice with one-on-one attention. Having an opportunity like this for grantees in some form would be great, even if it were online. And organizing meet-ups (online) for current grantees would be useful too, just to touch base with each other and share skills and stories.
  • Our trip to Wikimania CapeTown was educational, intense, inspiring, and affirming. It was amazing to connect with other Wiki Projects to talk about our visions for the future and our current experiences and challenges. It was super useful to talk with coders about the nuts and bolts of our project and tools that we might implement in the future. And of course, meeting Jimmy was pretty cool.
  • A highlight from Wikimania was the Whose Knowledge pre-conference. It was incredibly affirming to share experiences and visions with so many educators, community organizers, and editors whose missions are based in knowledge equity, socially responsible programming, and compassion. Considering the work to be done towards a decolonized internet, or a decolonization of cultural history, we were both honored to be included in that discussion, and amazed to see what great work had already been done.
  • We have been thrilled with the public's support of our project and the reassurance that we are filling a much needed space in the Wikimedia world.
"Authoring the dominant historical account means determining who are Others and the terms by which they are treated as such." - Heather Hart and Jina Valentine, co-founders, Black Lunch Table.[1]


  1. "Another Country". Art21 Magazine (in en-US). Retrieved 2018-12-16.