Grants talk:Programs/Wikimedia Community Fund/Black Lunch Table in 2022 and Beyond
Follow up questions:
Our proposal review team has been looking over the BLT 2021 proposal for WM Community funding. We would be grateful if you could respond to a couple of questions about your proposal (more may be added later):
- (not exactly a question, more of a suggestion really) The proposal states “Our Wikipedia Initiative empowers people to document their own histories.” WP guidelines state that you should not create/edit your own page. Could this be construed as misleading? Might it be better: “Our Wikipedia Initiative empowers communities to document their own histories.”
- You identify the proposal as international in reach (you've had activities in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago) but states implementation in the USA. Will you be actively seeking/targeting additional countries?
- The proposal states: “We encourage and motivate new editors to return to editing beyond their first edit-a-thon.” However, this goal is not included in ‘additional metrics’. How will you support & track returning editors?
- Also states: “Wikipedia needs more editors of color, women editors..." Do you have any special activities or events (i.e besides Art & Feminism, MoMA)to encourage more participation by women?
- Pinging Raggachampiongirl, Heatherhart, and Fishantena, as the previous ping was malformed. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 22:40, 21 November 2021 (UTC)
@I JethroBT (WMF): Hello, We have answered these in the order they have been asked as best we understand the questions posed.
- “Empowering people to document their own histories,” should be read metaphorically and not literally. A significant portion of :our Wikipedia training focuses on the pillars and guidelines of the Wikipedia community and imparting to new editors how important it is to heed these parameters. We want the editors that train with and enter the Wikimedia community via Black Lunch Table to be thoughtful editors.
- It is important, that we, Black people, document our own histories, lest those histories remain unpublished and undocumented. We can see from many years of survey data that the gaps that exist regarding, Black artists, Black women, and a dearth of Black and other minority community editors is significant. It stands to reason then, that since others are not writing this history, we must “write” our own (i.e contribute to Wiki, following the WP guidelines). I hope that the committee can make this conceptual distinction as it attends to the core of our larger organizational mission as Black Lunch Table.
- Yes, we are currently seeking proxies in additional international regions.The 2022 budget and proposal is written so that we :bring on three new proxies each year in addition to the established proxies continued engagement. Our hope is to form relationships in new regions each year while retaining connections and continuing to host events with those that have joined in previous years.
- We are actively in contact with a number of potential partners as a result of connections made at WikiIndaba 2021. We were very excited by the participants and organizers of the “She Said Campaign” particularly those working in Nigeria. BLT has also partnered with and has plans to continue work with other affiliates such as Noircir Wikipédia whose scope is international in nature.
- To see the areas we have hosted and targeted for our work, please click through to this map. Note: 2021 not included as it is updated at the end of every year. We maintain an event archive on our Wiki page.
- We imagine our regional proxies as Wikimedians based outside of the New York/Northeast and Chicago/Northern midwest areas (where BLT Lead Organizers and Project Manager are based). They help establish BLT’s Wikipedia initiative in their own community, through hosting Wikipedia edit-a-thon events annually, developing the local editorship via training and support, and developing institutional outreach and partnerships. We acknowledge that Black Americans are not the only group facing gaps in participation and documentation on the platform, yet we live here, and so begin our work at home. However, we are part of a larger diasporic group that must work together and take that perspective seriously and will continue to develop the ways that we can be in community with others in the movement.
- One of our goals, especially during the pandemic, without physical gatherings, where digital ties can feel so fleeting, has been :to establish better methods of communication between the project and our editors. The first step to addressing the issue of continued communication is by establishing a system for the regular collection of emails. To date, we have not had a consistent method for collecting user’s emails. Although we do ask editors to leave their username on our meetup pages/outreach dashboard, many new editors do not know to check back for talk page messages. And although we do leave messages for each editor we work with as well as periodically list upcoming events on talk pages, we see that email communication and additional outreach is useful if not critical for maintaining communication with our community.
- We recently filled a long-vacant Communications Specialist role that will be supportive to address this issue. With the help of our Communications Specialist, a critical first step is collecting off-platform contact info and engaging these folks through targeted emails about our upcoming events and ways that we can support their budding interest.
- We are greatly looking forward to the innovations that the Foundations Product Team creates regarding on-platform registration. We spent some time during their discovery phase sharing challenges we face as a project that engages editors in always-different geographical and institutionally linked communities. We suspect this will also help us be in better contact with our editorship and encourage awareness of future events and an encouragement of their participation.
- This was not included in our metrics because we do not have a measure for this goal as yet. We will be creating a more consistent method for collecting and contacting editors with the guidance from our WMF program officer, both through an email service like Mailchimp and when the development of on-platform registration is available. If these should be included with a note that as we implement and see the results we will refine, I would be pleased to add it to our list. At the time of writing, I did not think that these were suited to the way metrics are currently measured.
- Black Lunch Table is run and founded by Black women artists. We continue to lead as an organization working to amend the variety of inequities, inform the public about the disparities in content and editorship, and encourage participation of everyone in doing this work. We believe a greater impact can be made through a focused mission. Our organization’s mission is focused on repairing records where Black visual artists are missing. This is how we have chosen our focus of Black visual artists. We ask that you refer to the task lists for our edit-a-thons that focus on and highlight the contributions of Black women artists and encourage editors, especially those who seem themselves aligned with those knowledge gaps.
- We set out to contribute to the improvement of important issues that directly affect us. We believe that our mission work should be shared across all user groups. And we propose all user groups be required to show and enumerate the ways in which their work encourages inclusivity, diversity, and equity. As artists, educators, and Wikimedians whose life's work is founded upon these principles we are always curious to find that the burden of proof so often falls on the shoulders of those who lead such efforts.
Follow up from the WMF Regional Committee meeting (Wed. Dec.1)
Members of our committee spent some time today discussing your proposal application & we do have a few more questions, primarily related to your proposed budget. Because the increase in your request is substantial, we'd appreciate more information on the following:
- Are there job descriptions for your positions which clearly indicate how the various positions contribute to your goals & the overall work of BLT?
- On a related note: are these positions responsible in a direct sense for doing the work, indirectly by facilitating others, etc.?
- How do you set compensation for your positions? (i.e. do you have a high level policy?)
- Given the proposed increase in staffing, can you (briefly) describe how your current management structure & expertise will deal with the increased organization? A simple org chart might be helpful.
- Could you provide a little more information about your travel budget?
US-Canada Regional Committee
General Support Fund proposal approved in the amount of 301,793 USD
Raggachampiongirl, Heathart, and Fishantena: Congratulations! Your grant is approved in the amount of 301,793 USD for your first year, with a grant term starting 1 January 2022 and ending 31 January 2024.
The committee is glad to continue supporting Black Lunch Table’s efforts to correct important inequities in the Wikimedia movement, including the organization’s primary focus on Black visual artists and their histories. We agree that the organization has several strengths that will support their work in this complex area. These include the organization’s efforts to conduct fundraising within its communities and diversify its revenue sources. Importantly, the organization has maintained reliable and supportive practices around its staffing, which is intentionally distributed across communities. We believe Black Lunch Table can benefit from and is in a good position to manage and support its additional staffing request. Finally, the committee had strong support for the regional proxies program to expand editorship in their communities, outside the main hubs that Black Lunch Table operates in Chicago and New York City. The coverage of regional proxies both within and outside the region is impressive, and ensuring these leaders have adequate support for their community engagement, project management, communication work is important, and the committee is excited about the benefits and outcomes this approach could have.
While this decision had the greatest level of committee support, the committee was not in full support for this funding decision. Some concerns were that 1) the scope of Black Lunch Table's work may be too narrow and affect the impact for the communities it supports, and 2) substantial growth in some programs in the form of adding additional staff members may not be the only approach to growing your work. But the committee was not unanimous in these concerns. At this time, the committee is not recommending any specific changes in these areas. The program officer (Chris) has recommended a discussion early in 2022 to support shared understanding around these topics between Black Lunch Table and the committee.
At the time the proposal was initially submitted, the committee did not have sufficient information to fully understand a number of questions around staff, such as job descriptions and how the new roles are important for supporting the impact of the proposed activities or capacity needs of the organization. Importantly, this information was provided later at the committee's request. For future proposals, the committee requests greater clarity around staffing changes and increases, and how they are connected to your expected impact when these needs arise for your organization. The Regional Program officer (Chris) also acknowledges that the proposal form for General Support Funding will likely be revised by the Community Resources team to more clearly request more specific information around staffing changes.