Grants talk:Simple/Applications/Wiki Education Foundation/2017

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Hello, Wiki Education Foundation colleagues!

This note is to confirm your eligibility to submit a Simple Annual Plan Grant up to $100,000 for a grant term of 3-12 months. They have the option to include staff costs, operating costs, and acceptable program expenses in their funding request. Wiki Education Foundation received a start up grant through the Project and Event Grants program in 2013-2014, and Wiki Education Foundation has shown significant experience managing significant grants from other funding sources, which qualifies Wiki Education Foundation to be eligible for Simple APG. Wiki Education Foundation's work is aligned with that of the Wikimedia Foundation and others in the Wikimedia Movement.

Since Simple APGs are restricted grants, we have asked Wiki Education Foundation to submit a budget for the specific areas of work that this grant will fund, but also to provide the committee with an overview of their program work in other areas. We believe this engagement with the Simple APG process will be a good step toward preparing Wiki Education Foundation for a successful FDC application this fall, and hope that it will spark some useful conversations between the applicant and the committee members reviewing this application.

Thanks to Wiki Education Foundation, the Simple APG Committee, and all who have engaged in a discussion about how to best structure this application.

Best, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 18:16, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

draft status[edit]

@Wolliff (WMF): is it a draft or not? rubin16 (talk) 19:54, 12 April 2017 (UTC)


google doc has restricted access rubin16 (talk) 20:14, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Oops, sorry about that! Should work now. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:21, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Some requests and remarks by Ido[edit]

Hi LiAnna, thanks for submitting this! I have a few remarks on several different topics:

  • Your metrics have your programs confused. The line referring to the classroom project says "Informed Citizen". This seems to be incorrect.
  • That being said, I read the "Informed Citizen" program and I'm concerned that it represents 70% of the proposed budget (roughly, maybe even more) and it does not include any concrete outcomes save for next year's workplan, campaign materials and a few staff meetings. Please elaborate on this, as we (or at least I) can't justify this amount funding without a clear understanding of why this is so crucial and impactful.
  • Still on the same program - could you elaborate on the costs of the communications firm? (e.g. is this an existing contract?) It's a very large amount, and I would much rather see it "create" an employee at Wiki-Ed that does all that, rather than paying an outside firm that: a) disappears after the money is gone, b) does not leave knowledge within the organization.
  • I am also dismayed to see that the proposal contains some 25+% for travel. I understand the need for traveling and having an all-hands meeting, as well as attending conferences - - but costs provided seem prohibitive. Is there any other way to organize that (2 meetings, East/West coast)? Is there a way to receive discounts for attending events because your input is valuable? Please note, we have other grantees that use the same of budget for your travel alone, for a full year of programs...
  • I would also reduce the 10% overhead, unless you provide some rationale for it. "Overhead", or "unforeseen" is something that is usually provided for grants with complicated programs that require volunteer compensation, or have a truly unique nature that cannot be determined. This is not the case here, and it's a lot of money - Simple APG terms do not allow for "unrestricted" funding, and this seems to be exactly the case.
  • One last general question: in the Research Program, you mention

Several global program leaders have reported acceptance in the academy as a barrier to expanding their education programs

---> are you also making sure that the research results are circulated in the movement?

I know it's quite an irregular application, so I my comments are not out of line. Looking forward to your feedback. Alleycat80 (talk) 00:39, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the questions and thorough review, Ido! I think you're exactly right that the irregular application makes it worth thinking through a bit more, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts here.
  • I fixed that on the spreadsheet. Thanks for catching it.
  • The challenge here is one of timing: the outcomes from the Informed Citizens Campaign won't actually happen until 2018 or later, but the activities that will lead to those outcomes will happen during the grant period. Our work has a long lead time: First, we need to create a plan to shape our programmatic vision into something that external foundations will provide funding for. Next, we need to seek out that funding. Next, we need to pursue partnerships with relevant academic associations who can help us reach their members. Next, we attend academic conferences to meet professors. Then, we communicate extensively with these professors over the course of weeks or months, until they have a class that's appropriate for a Wikipedia assignment. Then, once the term starts, we'll be actively supporting the student editors enrolled, and the work *they* do is the actual outcomes in terms of Wikipedia. To work together effectively on such a large program with so many moving pieces, it's important for us to collaborate closely together. For context, we have about 2,000 professors right now already in our database who we've met or have attended teaching with Wikipedia workshops, and that we're in that communication phase with. We need to have a steady stream of new names entering the database, especially ones relevant to our Informed Citizens work, for the campaign to be effective in the future. I included the overall Classroom Program numbers for the spring term in this grant for some context about what I expect this Informed Citizens kickoff work will actually do to Wikipedia in future years. For context, we're projecting to support somewhere between 350 and 400 classes, with between 7,000 and 8,000 students enrolled by the end of 2017, but the planning work for that term has already been done (as in, those courses will come from planning and travel we did last year and earlier this year). I'm not sure if this helps explain it a bit more, but please ask if further clarification can help! I think this is definitely one of the challenges of an organization like ours with an overall budget more suited to an FDC application; we intend to apply in the next round of FDC funding, so we're looking for this Simple APG to bridge part of our funding gap until then.
Thanks, it's very helpful in explaining. I know about the FDC application coming up. I actually think that for an organization like yours, the 2-year FDC pilot suitable, but for the time being it help us to evaluate seeing a slightly bigger picture, like the one you just painted. Appreciate the details! Alleycat80 (talk) 10:10, 16 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, it's an existing firm we work with on an ongoing basis. I'd say it's similar to how WMF works with Minassian Media, and I think their annual plan description is similar to what we do with the media firm. In this case, the narrative we're looking to push is specifically to position Wiki Ed and the Informed Citizens Campaign in a favorable position to potential funders, developing a key messaging strategy, media opportunities, and more. I work closely with the firm in question (PR & Company), as does Frank (our executive director), and our new Development Director (who will start in the middle of this grant period) will also work closely with them. While in-house expertise is certainly helpful (and my background is communications, so I care a lot about it!), it's really useful to have an external firm who you work with on an ongoing basis; since they work with many different clients (in our case in the education space), they are able to see trends and opportunities we can't. While we have a small ongoing contract with them, the bulk of this money is for an intensive communications strategy development work to be able to do the fundraising elements of the Informed Citizens Campaign. PR&Co has extensive experience in this work, and deep knowledge of our work, so I'm confident the quality of their work for us will be high, and the impact will be ongoing since we have the ongoing contract with them.
  • I hear your comment about how this travel budget is the same as others' entire budgets — and I think this is another one where it's a scale of this grant vs our overall budget. As you can see from the overall budget in the Annual Plan I also listed, our total budget is around $2 million. That being said, I do want to assure you we pursue discounts as much as we can! Part of the reason we form these partnership agreements with associations is that as part of the Memorandum of Understanding we sign with them, we ask for reduced or free booth space in their exhibit hall to recruit new program participants. As an example, the American Sociological Association conference (one of the ones mentioned in the budget) has given us a reduced fee in the past, and we're working to get it this year as well. For Wikimania, we've already booked a large Airbnb for our staff to stay, bringing the per-night, per-room cost down to $85 USD/night, instead of the $271 USD/night that the conference hotel is listing on their website. For our staff meeting, we have a negotiated group rate a local hotel where the out of town staff stay. Our staff are dispersed geographically across five states in addition to those of us who live in California and work our of our office. I certainly wish I could reduce the travel budget even more, but one of the challenges in supporting such an enormous geographic region as the entire United States and Canada is that our travel budget is pretty high. :-/ And I think it's worth acknowledging that outreach to both funders and professors is something where an initial in-person relationship is crucial for actually achieving our goals in the long term.
OK, sure, gotcha. Alleycat80 (talk) 10:10, 16 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Indirect costs are pretty standard on grant applications we've submitted in the past, including for restricted grants. It is an acknowledgement that to achieve the things set out in the grant, we need service like phones and copiers, office rent, auditing fees, and other general administrative costs to make the work set out in the grant actually happen. Rather than listing out a percentage of our phone bill or specifically allocating an office supplies budget, we just wrap this up into a 10% indirect/overhead charge. Is this something that's not acceptable in APGs from WMF? If so, I can try to itemize this out a bit more in detail, but it adds a lot of accounting work on our end since many of these charges are small.
Hey LiAnna, I actually don't know if it's 'against the rules' (I suspect it isn't). If you say it only goes to administrative things, it's OK with me, but I just note that it's an unusually large amount of money (I know 10% can be percieved as standard) compared to other grants we evaluate.
@Wolliff (WMF): Can you confirm? --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:39, 17 April 2017 (UTC)
Hello, LiAnna and Ido! Including overhead costs in your grant budget is welcome and encouraged. But these costs must be itemized since this is a restricted grant. Best, 21:08, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Costs we put into overhead/indirect include rent, utilities, janitorial services, internet, copier, phones, software, and organizational insurance; for the purposes of not bogging the accounting/reporting process down with the minutia of this, would it be acceptable to move the line item I have as overhead/indirect to be office rent? Rent is our largest of those expenses, and the dollar amount we've included for overhead/indirect is a small percentage of our office rent bill for the five months of the grant contract. Does this sound okay? --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 00:03, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Absolutely! The executive summary mentioned in the grant report will certainly be shared on meta/Commons/our blog, circulated among mailing lists, in the various education Facebook groups, etc. I also had a very preliminary conversation with WMF comms about having them feature something on their blog as well. We're obviously also interested in submitting the research to open access journals; if and when we have an article published (review times mean this would be out of the timeframe of this grant, although again the work is done during the grant — one of the fun elements of working with academia!), we'll obviously circulate it then too.
Thanks again for your thorough review, and I am happy to answer any follow up questions! --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:17, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, appreciate this! Alleycat80 (talk) 10:10, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

Simple Annual Plan Grant Committee Recommendation[edit]

Committee recommendations
Funding recommendations:

The committee is publishing their written recommendations without an amount, and will leave the amount approved to the discretion of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Strengths identified by the committee:
  • The Wiki Education Foundation has set ambitious goals, and is aiming for high impact at scale.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation has experience and capacity, which means that they have the ability to deliver on the commitments they make in this plan. The plan itself is thoughtful and complete.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation has good practices around evaluation and sharing learning, so the movement at large is likely to benefit from their work in multiple ways.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation has a quality strategy, and this plan is aligned with that strategy.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation supports a huge community with a large potential for impact.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation has experience with managing large grants, and has been successful in getting funding from outside the movement.
Concerns identified by the committee:
  • Committee members have questions around community oversight of the Wiki Education Foundation’s activities in the past, and their plans to address this in the future. This is something that should be considered carefully as the Wiki Education Foundation plans to enter the FDC process this fall.
  • Committee members had concerns around the amount dedicated to travel and conferences without an adequate explanation of how these events are likely to lead to more impact.
  • More discussions is needed around some priorities. For example, while the Wiki Education Foundation concentrates on awareness, their own survey shows that 80% of students consider Wikipedia as a low priority and don't have time to edit; that's why the main stress should be put not on general awareness but on inspiration and involvement.
  • Some committee members were concerned that a lack of post-event engagement may be a barrier to better results in terms of retention.

For the Simple Annual Plan Grant Committee, Kirill Lokshin (talk) 19:21, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

Thank you for the very thorough review, Simple APG Committee! I appreciate all the conversations and engagements and look forward to doing productive work. One question: by retention here, do you mean our student editors, or our instructors? We focus our retention efforts on instructors, who bring a fresh crop of student editors each term; this is key to scaling our impact (and 98% of our instructors teach with Wikipedia again through our program, so our retention rates are quite high). This is a decision we made based on our organizational strategy, which is focused on growing the quality and quantity of content rather than recruiting new editors. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:01, 27 April 2017 (UTC)
This grant is approved by the WMF in full in the amount of $99,996 for 5 months, on the basis of the potential benefits for the movement articulated by the committee in their recommendation, and the committee's confidence in the grantee organization's ability to deliver results. We are noting here that some committee members had significant concerns with funding large amounts of travel expenses that are not clearly linked to impact, and so we will work with the grantee to apply greater scrutiny to these expenses and find better ways of expressing how these expenses will lead to results. In line with the committee's concerns regarding oversight and defining priorities, WMF will work with the Wiki Education Foundation in the coming months to address some of these concerns in preparation for the Wiki Education Foundation's engagement in the FDC process. Many thanks to the committee for these fine recommendations. This was not an easy proposal to review. Thanks also to the engagement of the Wiki Education Foundation staff, especially LiAnna, in the ongoing discussions about this grant request. We look forward to our work together! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 21:03, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
As a follow-up, I've posted our draft annual plan in a first effort to respond to the Simple APG Committee's feedback, and invite community comments and questions on the talk page. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 23:12, 16 May 2017 (UTC)

Midpoint report ready for review[edit]

I just wanted to confirm I've finished drafting the Midpoint Report. Let me know if I can provide any clarifications or answer any questions! I am on vacation for the next four days, but I'd be happy to make additional edits to the report after July 31. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 23:31, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

Final report submitted[edit]

I've completed our final report for this grant. We are under-spent by $2,026. We are happy to either return this money, or have it be deducted from our (hopefully) forthcoming grant from the FDC APG process, which we have entered this year. Please let me know if you have any questions. I appreciate the time and effort of the Simple APG Committee and WMF staff to help us with this process! --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:56, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

Journal article published[edit]

Just a footnote to this grant: Showcasing the very slow pace of academic publishing, the journal article from this grant that was submitted in 2017 was finally published in 2019: --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 16:52, 15 February 2019 (UTC)