Knowledge Equity Fund/pl
The Wikimedia Foundation Knowledge Equity Fund is a new US$4.5 million fund created by the Wikimedia Foundation in 2020, to provide grants to external organizations that support knowledge equity by addressing the racial inequities preventing access and participation in free knowledge.
This pilot initiative is rooted in our strategic direction, where Knowledge Equity emerged in 2017 as one of two key pillars of focus in order for us to achieve our vision for 2030. Knowledge equity acknowledges that we can’t achieve free knowledge if there are societal or economic barriers that prevent some people’s ability to share and contribute to knowledge. With this focused fund, we will invest in organizations working to address systems of racial bias and inequality around the world, with the goal of creating a more inclusive, representative future for free knowledge.
In June 2020, the murder of George Floyd in the United States (US) led to protests against racial injustice in more than 60 countries around the world. In the wake of these continued global protests, the Wikimedia Foundation made several explicit commitments to advance racial justice through increased support and investment as a Foundation, as a part of our movement’s larger commitment to knowledge equity. The Equity Fund was created in late 2020 as part of these commitments, with an explicit focus on addressing barriers to free knowledge experienced by Black, Indigenous and communities of color around the world.
Knowledge equity is core to the work of free knowledge and to our movement. In order to invite in the knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege, we must break down the obstacles that are preventing the ability of all people to participate in all knowledge.
We decided to focus on racial equity because it is a pervasive problem that is inextricably linked to the work of knowledge equity. Many of the barriers that prevent people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge are rooted in systems of racial oppression. Due to colonization and slavery, knowledge from Black, Indigenous and communities of colour around the world have been systematically excluded and erased from the historical canon.
At the same time, we recognize this is work that we as a movement cannot do alone. Our projects can only do so much when, for example, academic and mass media representation of marginalized communities remains insufficient, which in turn limits citations and primary sources for us to build from. The Equity Fund is designed to provide grants to organizations outside of our movement. This will allow us to build a robust ecosystem of free knowledge partners working to address the barriers to knowledge equity. This fund is a pilot program, and we will be continuing to iterate on the structure and goals of the fund.
What we mean by racial equity
The Wikimedia Foundation defines racial equity as shifting away from Eurocentricity, White-male-imperialist-patriarchal supremacy, superiority, power and privilege to create an environment that is inclusive and reflects the experiences of communities of color worldwide. These modes of privilege mentioned above function as setting the dominant social, political, legal, policy-oriented, and cultural norms around the world.
Racial equity means acknowledging explicit and implicit affirmative actions for White people and groups with privilege related to skin color are created systemically through institutional power, dominance, and control.
Racial equity aims to promote consistent and sustained repair for non-White, non-US and Eurocentric communities and communities that continue to experience harm due to racism and caste-based upon colorism.
Racial equity includes authentic and intersectional, racial, ethnic and/or color demographic representation that promotes sustained and consistent participation of people from oppressed communities based on skin color.
- Dimensions of Racism, OHCHR and UNESCO
- Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture, Equity in the Center
The Equity Fund Committee
The Equity Fund Committee will identify and work with organizations that receive grants from the Equity Fund. This committee will be made up of both Wikimedia Foundation employees and volunteers. Currently the Equity Fund Committee includes:
We also have two Foundation and movement leaders who are currently serving as advisors to the Equity Fund Committee. These advisors share their expertise in knowledge equity and in grantmaking as we are launching the Equity Fund.
- Janeen Uzzell, former Chief Operating Officer, Wikimedia Foundation
- Lisa Gruwell, Chief Advancement Officer, Wikimedia Foundation
The current structure of the Equity Fund is weighted towards Foundation support. The fund was originally launched as a rapid response to the protests for Black lives happening around the world in 2020. We created a pilot program, with a goal of being fast and efficient in providing grants of support. The actual timeline for the Equity Fund has been slower as we’ve been navigating the operational and logistical issues of creating a new type of fund. As we launch, there are two community members on the Committee. Our goal is to involve more community members in this pilot program, and we will be opening this up for more people to get involved in future rounds of funding. At the moment, we are looking to the movement to recommend organizations that qualify for funding from the Equity Fund and could become impactful partners. If you have a recommendation, please fill out this form (hosted by Google) with details.
Areas of Funding
The Equity Fund Committee has selected five focus areas where we will focus our investments. Each of these areas addresses one of the persistent structural barriers that is preventing equitable access and participation in knowledge.
- Supporting scholarship & advocacy focused on free knowledge and racial equity
- Supporting media and journalism efforts focused on people of color around the world, in order to expand reliable media sources covering these communities
- Addressing unequal internet access
- Improving digital literacy skills that impede access to knowledge
- Investing in non-traditional records of knowledge (i.e. oral histories)
The first round of grant recipients will be chosen by the Equity Fund Committee, based on an evaluation of their existing programmatic work and how it furthers racial equity in the context of free knowledge. They also have to meet specific criteria, such as being a recognized nonprofit, establishing a proven track record of impact, and having a financial model that is not dependent on a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Selected recipients will also be subject to a review to ensure compliance with our fund administrator’s nonprofit obligations.
We hope to announce the first round of grant recipients that will be funded by the end of July, and will be updating this page with details about the recipients.
Office Hours: We will be hosting two office hours: