Knowledge Equity Fund/Commmunication/dtp

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Invitation to Community Call after round 2

With the announcement of the Knowledge Equity Fund’s round 2 grantees, we’ve seen a lot of questions and feedback about the Knowledge Equity Fund, how the Committee works and how the work of the grantees will contribute to the projects and to the movement. To help answer these questions, the Knowledge Equity Fund Committee will host a community conversation on Friday, October 6, 2023 at 1400 UTC to hear ideas, concerns and to answer questions. The Committee would also like to hear ideas for how the fund should be used in the upcoming third round of grantmaking.

To register for this conversation, please email us at You can also send us questions beforehand. The call will be held in English and we will have interpretation in Spanish; if you would like interpretation into other languages please let us know. If you’re not able to attend, we will also share notes and a written list of Q&A after the call.

Notes from Community Calls

Detailed notes from the community call can be found below. In terms of next steps, the Knowledge Equity Fund Committee will be reviewing the suggestions, ideas and feedback shared during the call and will share more soon.

Knowledge Equity Fund Community Call - October 6, 2023

Committee Introduction to the Knowledge Equity Fund

Fuller history of the Fund can be found on Meta

  • The Fund was created in late 2020, as a response to the demands of racial justice and more attention to be paid to the role of race and racism in knowledge production that came after the murder of Geroge Floyd in the summer of 2020, as well as the South African Fallist movement. Also to acknowledge that 2020 was a major catalyst but Black Lives Matter movement started in 2012 with the killing of Trayvon Martin.
  • There was global recognition of the role of race and racism and how it plays out in the knowledge structures.
  • We also see connections within the 2030 movement strategy commitment to knowledge equity.
  • Led by the Executive Director at the time, the Fund was established as an effort to address the systemic disparities in the movement.
  • 2020 saw all travel activities of the movement and the Foundation halted, which resulted in the underspend and this is where the funding for the Knowledge Equity Fund came from. Money was moved to Tides to give us time to figure out how to distribute the grants.
  • We are familiar with the term “technical debt” and are less comfortable thinking about the “knowledge debt” and how that is created by systemic inequalities for example: anti-literacy laws, migration of colonial archives and destruction of libraries, and the systems of racialization that deemed some people human and some people subhuman.

The Process of the Selection of Grantees

  1. This is done by nominations - open process for nominating grantees through a community survey
    • Eligibility
      1. Does this organization address free knowledge and racial equity?
      2. Are they led by the community they serve?
      3. Is there a robust history with grant management?
      4. What is the area of focus (does it align with one or more of grant criteria)?
      5. Does the project require less than 20% of their annual budget (to not create dependency)?
      6. Is the organization a registered not-for-profit in their jurisdiction?
    • Align with one or more grant criteria
      1. Supporting scholarship & advocacy focused on free knowledge and racial equity
      2. Expanding reliable media sources that cover BIPOC
      3. Addressing unequal internet access
      4. Improving digital literacy skills that impede access to knowledge
      5. Investing in non-traditional records of knowledge (i.e. oral histories)
  2. Committee vote is taken to proceed to next round of vetting
  3. Interviews and identifying potential impact - understanding how the organizations measure impact by having conversations with potential grantees. The Committee also looks at:
    • Technical capability
    • Region of the World / regional gaps
    • Desired impact / systems change potential
  4. Committee vote is taken to proceed to next round
  5. Legal and financial due diligence
  6. Conversations with Local Affiliates

History of the First Two Rounds of Grants

More details can be found on Meta

Round 1:

  1. Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) which is a Jordan based organization that works on capacity building of a big network of journalists. Through this fund ARIJ was able to produce many media articles that would serve our community of Wikipedians.
  2. Borealis is a philanthropic intermediary that takes a community-led approach to addressing injustices and driving transformative change across the United States. They used the grant to provide their Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, allowing the increase of entries about leaders of color.
  3. The Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) of Howard University in the USA has created a fellowship to address the gaps in knowledge and how knowledge can be used to advance racial equity and empowerment.
  4. The InternetLab, another grantee that addresses important issues in our ecosystem created a fellowship to produce writings, publications and educational programming on the intersection of racial equity and free knowledge in Brazil.
  5. The Media Foundation for West Africa, a non-governmental organization working on freedom of expression and speech across the West African countries utilized the grant fund to produce content to bridge the gap in certain topics to avoid more underrepresentation of minority groups (a topic that Wikimedia highlighted in Wikimania Cape Town).
  6. The STEM en Route to Change Foundation is a non-profit that has a non-traditional method of storytelling to amplify the contributions of Black, Indigenous, women of color and non-binary people of color in STEM fields. That helped in more content about them to be used in our Wiki projects.

See also the round 1 reports.

Round 2:

For round two, we have another outstanding group of grantees:

  1. Data for Black Lives is a US non-profit that works on digital rights and literacy and will focus on machine learning and AI that affect people’s lives (and our very own Wikipedia).
  2. AMAN, the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, an Indonesian organization that will focus on the rights of media and communication to strengthen them; and we know how much the bias of media impacts the quality of our Wikipedia articles.
  3. Black Cultural Archives is a UK black led archive and heritage center. They will use the grants to collect and preserve black history.
  4. Create Caribbean Research Institute, the first center of its kind in the Caribbean, will use the funds in capacity building and digital literacy as well as non-traditional records of knowledge. Again another aspect that will help us Wikipedians to document history and heritage on our encyclopedia.
  5. Criola is a civil society organization from Brazil that works on Black Brazilian women’s rights. They focus on education and knowledge production. They will enhance that work and add studies on the impact of racism in all areas of society.
  6. Filipino American National Historical Society is based in the US. They will work on collecting archives of non-traditional records of Filipino-American knowledge.
  7. Project Multatuali is a non-profit for journalism based in Indonesia. They will work on capacity building of women journalists. They will provide the public with unrestricted access to high-quality reports across different formats.

It is worth mentioning that most of the work in these grants is under a free license.

What is the budget for the Knowledge Equity Fund?

  • The Knowledge Equity Fund was established with a $4.5M USD underspend due to COVID travel and event cancellations.
  • During the first two rounds we have given out $2,268,882 USD.
  • After the first round of funding all funds were moved from Tides, back to the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • There is $2,231,118 USD remaining in the Fund.

How are We Making The Connection

We contacted user groups and connected the grantees with them geographically or thematically, explaining the objects of the fund. We are also trying to create new synergies between Wikimedia user groups and external groups to increase our impact.

A few examples of connections we made are:

  • Project Multatuli, which we connected with Wikimedia Indonesia
  • Create Caribbean were connected with Noircir, Wiki Cari UG, Whose Knowledge, Projet:Université de Guyane and WikiMujeres
  • Black Cultural Archives were connected with Noircir, Whose Knowledge and Wikimedia UK
  • Criola were connected with Whose Knowledge, WikiMujeres and Mujeres (mulheres) LatinoAmericanas in Wikimedia
  • Data for Black Lives which we connected with AfroCrowd and Black Lunch Table

Through these connections, we have seen positive synergies within the movement at large


Question 1: Is there some mechanism for review of how each supported project worked out for improving knowledge equity?

Answer: Grantees are expected to produce reports at the end of their grant period and we publish them on Meta. When vetting organizations we assess how they are currently supporting racial equity work in their regions. From the beginning we try to understand how organizations measure their impact and how we can support them. We accept the reports they usually produce in any language and sometimes they are quantitative or qualitative.

The goals of the Knowledge Equity Fund are long-term systems change. It is similar to measuring the impact of Wikipedia - it is continuous and evident as we produce more articles and in the long term, address different kinds of biases.

Question 2: Is the WMF implementing any mechanism to evaluate the actual impact on knowledge equity - and perhaps specifically through our own content projects. I think this may be very beneficial for evaluating the program as a whole, but I imagine it takes some time, so even if you plan to do it, it may not be ready yet.

Answer: After the first round, we have been focused on the connection with the Wikipedia projects and are working on a way to measure that impact. An example is how we’ve measured impact with ARIJ. To see the impact, we connected them with Wikimedians of the Levant and we looked at the number of articles produced, how they address racial justice and how they deal with media sources. We know we can do better at how we connect these grants to the movement and learned this from our grant to ARIJ.

Adding the examples of AMAN and Project Multatuli, we connected them with Wikimedia Indonesia and we have had calls where the organizations and Wikimedia Indonesia have discussed the different areas they can work on together such as indigenous resources that can be used in Wikipedia.

AMAN has an initiative to build an Indigenous People’s Glossary, so Indonesian people in general can benefit from this resource. As indigenous peoples are marginalized, sometimes we still use some insensitive words toward them, and even some Indonesian Wikipedia articles still use these words. We cannot rely solely on resources from outside of the indigenous people’s realm to define who they are or what we should call them. By having this initiative, we firmly believe our community can benefit from this Glossary as one of useful resources for Indonesian indigenous people related topics.

Project Multatuli is a non-profit journalism organization working with indigenous women topics for this grant and they also can collaborate to empower more indigenous people as citizen journalists.

Question 3: Does this start from Wikimedia groups saying “I need more sources in this area, here’s a group that could help with this?” Or does it come from some external group applying for a grant and then us trying to make it fit with our existing programs?

Answer: One of the learnings from the first round was understanding that the community really wanted to be involved in the process, and so we now send a form to the community to nominate potential grantees. It’s not an open call application process.

Question 4: I'd like to understand how the Committee is thinking about equitable access to knowledge as it relates to equitable access to the internet because I feel, at this point in our collective history, one cannot be achieved without the other.

Answer: Equitable access to the internet is one of the five areas of funding. We agree that addressing internet access is an important part of this work and each new round of applicants presents an opportunity to engage with organizations doing important work in all five areas of funding, including access to the internet. We certainly encourage everyone to nominate any organizations doing this work for round 3.

Question 5: Did you ask the community what organizations to support as a starting point? If so, where did that happen?

Answer: We did that at the end of round 1, on the old FAQ page.

Question 6: Is it possible to fund organizations working with endangered languages, digitisation as well as revitalisation?

Answer: This falls under 1 of the 5 categories we support (investing in non-traditional records of knowledge (i.e. oral histories)). There are a number of grantees in round 2 looking at endangered languages, such as Create Caribbean and the Indonesian organizations who are both working with Indigenous communities in their regions. Please nominate any organizations working in this area and we can take a look.

Question 7: There is significant concern within the community about donor funds being used for endeavors not directly related to the WMF's primary responsibilities of supporting and maintaining the various Wikimedia Projects. Before issuing the third round of grants, would you consider conducting a secure poll to ascertain whether the community supports these grants, or if they would prefer the funds be redirected to internal projects?

Answer: We understand that the equity fund has not been popular with parts of the movement. We understand that it can be sensitive to fund projects outside the movement. It is important to go back to why the Equity Fund was created in the first place. We wanted to address the knowledge gap by creating a knowledge ecosystem that the movement can draw from. That is why one of the five areas to fund is around expanding reliable media sources.

We’re looking for feedback and deeper engagement on the Equity Fund which is why we’re hosting this community call to hear that kind of feedback from the community. In terms of re-allocating these funds, this is not a zero-sum game. It’s not about the Foundation focusing on knowledge equity vs redirecting the funds to other projects.

This fund shows that the movement isn’t working on the side, but working on the objective of the sum of all knowledge by contributing to knowledge equity. We have to address certain issues from the ecosystem such as knowledge equity, racial bias, gender equity, it will all contribute to a better ecosystem.

Question 8: Can we help grantees make the outputs of their work available under a free license?

Answer: This is a requirement of the grant and we worked hard to make sure this was clear to grantees. We have included provisions in the grant agreement that state that the outputs of the work funded by the grant should be available under a free license.

Question 9: You mentioned earlier how you’re trying to leverage the usefulness of the outcomes of these projects to the Wikimedia efforts (multiplier effects). I am curious if you see a role for that during the grant writing phase as well (like a buddy system?) or if that would be more discouraging than helpful?

Answer: We reach out to organizations that are nominated by community members, to learn about their organization and the impact of a potential grant . In round 2, we tried to introduce the grantees with affiliates working in that area. We also check in with the local affiliates to see that there are no concerns and we connect them to talk about potential ways to support one another in their efforts. An example is Wikimedia Brazil worked very closely with the InternetLab in round 1 and used its research to support their work. They are also meeting with Criolla to discuss how to support them on their project.

Question 10: Is there a start and stop date for when nominations are open? This would be useful to have on the meta page and the Google form.

Answer: It is a rolling nomination process and there are no dates. It is a great suggestion to highlight more prominently the community nomination process on the meta page.

Question 11: It sounds like you all learned a lot from round 1 to round 2; given that, what have you learned from round 2 that you will apply to future rounds?

Answer: The bigger changes were connecting the dots with the movement and the grantees. We also read the comments on Wikimedia-l and consider them at meetings. We always try to improve our efforts and are open to feedback; please feel free to email us feedback at equityfund(_AT_)

Question 12: I think it would help to focus on specifically how to connect the grants to a measurable outcome. That is the key gap that would actually help address the core concerns expressed in that question around redirecting funds.

Answer: People like to see numbers but beyond that, this really is a long term position to create connections and support organizations that have been doing work in the knowledge equity space for a long time; this will in the long run strengthen our projects. It is unlikely that in one year you will see huge changes. We want to support the ecosystem, which continues to be available for contributors on the projects.

If you’d like to collaborate with grantees and be connected to them, please let us know.

Question 13: Is there a mechanism for ensuring that we're doing as much within the movement to support complementary knowledge equity projects organized or facilitated by Wikimedians? That seems like a lovely way to extend the work to [countering systemic bias in the longer future].

Answer: Knowledge equity and the connection to movement strategy is a key question on the application for Wikimedia Foundation grants. A number of affiliates that are contributing to knowledge equity are receiving funds from the Foundation. It is definitely work on our projects that is supported by the grant programs.

Question 14: Would you consider paired grants for a future round where some money goes to an affiliate and some to an external organization so they can, for example, generate sources that an affiliate then uses in their programs?

Answer: We definitely need more experimentation in this area of paired or matching grants. Grant innovation!

Suggestions & Comments:

  • I think it would be really helpful if the movement group who nominated the round 2 grantees would post on Meta exactly *WHY* they think this grant will help their own work.
  • I can’t be alone as a user group/individual that really supports the Knowledge Equity Fund, but not sure how to best demonstrate/note that support other than showing up to calls like this. I would like to uplift that this work is happening. How can we support this work? I don’t want to get into a talk page discussion. I also want to recognize that as this is now 2023, and so many of the organizations that promised support in 2020 are pulling back, I applaud the Foundation for staying true and keeping with its promise.
  • The word “nomination” shows up only once on the Knowledge Equity Fund page on meta - given the importance of the nomination to finding grantees I think there should be a lot more guidance for the community. It would really help connect the dots of why this work is important to the movement, right now they’re just out there talking about their (great) work in terms that are less familiar to people whose only frame of reference is the Wikimedia movement.
  • Deadlines and process for community nominations is key. Rolling nominations are fine but people need a rough idea of when the deadline or last day would be.
  • Spanish: Podria ser posible crear como un grupo de apoyo con grupo de usuarios y proyectos que trabajen por la equidad del conocimiento como un espacio consultivo?

Translation: Could it be possible to create a support group with a group of users and projects that work for knowledge equity as a consultative space?

Follow-up from Knowledge Equity Fund community call

The Knowledge Equity Fund Committee wants to share some next steps building on the feedback and ideas we heard from the community call on Friday, 6 October, 2023. As you can see from the notes above, all of the feedback we heard fell into three main areas - Improving communication, Clarifying impact, and Connecting the dots with the movement. Below, we’ve detailed some next steps and changes we’ll be making in each of these areas:

(1) Improving Communication

This community call was an opportunity for the Committee to directly answer questions about the Knowledge Equity Fund. We learned that some of our processes around the structure and nomination process for grant candidates are not widely understood or well documented here on Meta. We acknowledge that we can do a better job of communications and outreach to the Wikimedia movement as a Committee. Moving forward, this will include:

  • A significant overhaul of the Knowledge Equity Fund Meta page, by the end of November. We’ll more clearly outline how community members can get involved and nominate candidates for the grant, answer common questions and reorganize the Meta page.
  • A regular cadence of community calls, with the next one kicking off in the second week of December. Building on this community call, we will publish timing for a series of community calls for round 3 through next year. We will kick this off with a call in early December to discuss nominations and areas of funding for Round 3. We will announce a date for that call shortly.

(2) Clarifying impact

We received several questions about how we are evaluating impact, generally in terms of knowledge equity and also impact on the Wikimedia projects. As we acknowledged on the call, there are different ways to demonstrate impact on knowledge equity. We are used to measuring impact in terms of increased content on the Wikimedia projects - edits, article count, etc. With the Knowledge Equity Fund, 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. We recognize the need to communicate better about why supporting each grantee, ultimately supports knowledge equity on our projects. We want to explore with affiliates and partners to:

  • Communicate a clear understanding of how Knowledge Equity Fund grantees measure impact. For all future Knowledge Equity Fund grantees, when we announce their grant 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 be most informative. For our Round 2 Knowledge Equity Fund grantees, we will include clear qualitative reporting about outcomes based on their existing activities and measurements in their annual report and how it is connected to free knowledge.
  • Conduct outreach to experts in academia, researchers, etc. who have expertise in measuring efforts in racial justice and equity. As we measure short term outcomes at the end of the annual grant, we will better communicate the longer term changes we hope to make towards our knowledge equity goals. We will publish this list on Meta and invite feedback and suggestions from the communities as well.

(3) Connecting the dots with the movement

During the call, we also heard several questions and ideas about how Knowledge Equity Fund grantees can connect more closely to the movement. The work of Knowledge Equity Fund grantees is meant to enrich the broader free knowledge ecosystem, including but not limited to the Wikimedia projects directly. Still, we acknowledge that there is an opportunity to build stronger connections between the work of Knowledge Equity Fund grantees to the Wikimedia projects in order to advance our goals of knowledge equity and racial justice. As a Committee, we’re still exploring the next steps in this area and will continue to develop our ideas here. A couple of initial ideas include:

  • We support the suggestion of a community led community of practice for all of the people who are working on this within the movement - including Equity Fund grantees.
  • We will be more explicit about which movement organizations are being connected to and working with Equity Fund grantees, which is a new practice that we began with the second round of grantees.

We will share more next steps on this third area by the end of November 2023.

Pamalahawan komuniti do kumotolu

Note: Round 3 nominations closed on February 29, 2024.

Yahai nopo do baino mongukab kopoingkakatan montok do raund kotilombus do kapanahakan mantad Kopoilaan Kousinan Ekuiti.

The Knowledge Equity Fund was launched by the Wikimedia Foundation two years ago as a pilot program to advance knowledge equity, one of the two pillars of the movement strategy, through a focus on racial inequities in free knowledge.

Since our launch, the Knowledge Equity Fund has gone through several iterations. 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. Through this conversation and onwiki comments, we heard consistent feedback about the need to connect grantees and their work more closely with the Wikimedia projects. These suggestions have focused on increased communication and visibility into the work of the Knowledge Equity Fund and grantees; developing stronger connections between grantees and movement groups in order to drive direct impact to the Wikimedia projects, which will in turn benefit our larger mission of free knowledge; and clarifying the impact of Knowledge Equity Fund grantees.

These are important suggestions that we as a Committee are taking on as we launch the next round. We’ve just shared a Diff post with details on the changes that we’re making moving forward, including a new Connected Grants pilot that will be available to movement groups to support existing partnerships with external organizations.

We will also be hosting two community calls to answer questions and hear suggestions for nominations for Round 3:

  • Milatok 22, 11 am UTC
  • Milatok 26, 3 pm UTC

If you are interested in attending these calls, please email equityfund(_AT_) and we will share information to join. We welcome your nominations for organizations for Round 3! Nominations will be open through the end of February