Hi Lisa and all,

Thanks for the info. 

Laudable though the goals of the Knowledge Equity Fund surely are, you seem to be saying that you gave $4.5 million – which readers presumably donated because they thought you were struggling to have enough money to keep Wikipedia up and running – to Tides Advocacy for the kind of "dismantling inequities" work that Tides Advocacy does anyway.[1]

If donors had wanted to support Tides Advocacy's racial equity work, surely they could have donated to that organisation in the first place? 

Have you announced – or will you announce – this redirection of funds to the public, complete with an explanation of how this decision came about (i.e. as a result of last year's underspend, as described in your mail last December)?[2] At the time of writing, a Google search is unable to locate a related Wikimedia blog post or press release.

Without such a public communication, donors will not even be aware that money they gave in response to banners asking for donations "to protect Wikipedia's independence" etc. is now going to be used for a different purpose altogether, one that is expressly outside of the scope of the conventional Wikimedia community grants that they might reasonably have expected their money to be used for.[3] 

Moreover, at some point, Wikipedia readers will no doubt be asked to donate another $4.5 million to meet expenses these funds could have covered (such as the most recent $5 million WMF donation to the endowment). 

Do you agree donors should be told?


On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 6:42 PM Nadee Gunasena <ngunasena@wikimedia.org> wrote:
Hi all,

We realized we had shared the wrong date for the Equity Fund Office Hours. Lisa's email initially said these would be Monday, June 13 - that should be Monday, June 14. Sorry for any confusion - Updated times below. You can also find these details and  more information on Meta: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Equity_Fund 

On Wed, Jun 9, 2021 at 10:15 AM Lisa Gruwell <lgruwell@wikimedia.org> wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m excited to share more information about the Wikimedia Foundation’s Knowledge Equity Fund.

The Equity Fund is a pilot initiative that came out of the commitment the Foundation’s leadership team made in June 2020 [1] in the wake of global protests against racial injustice. Our goal was to create a grant-making fund with an explicit focus on addressing barriers to free knowledge experienced by Black, indigenous and communities of color around the world. 

This is a $4.5 million USD fund to address racial inequities that impact the work of free knowledge. It was created to provide focused grants to organizations that are advancing knowledge equity, one of two key pillars of our 2030 strategic direction of becoming the essential infrastructure of free knowledge. Specifically, the fund is meant to support organizations working to address the racial injustices and barriers that prevent participation in free knowledge. 

We allocated funds for the Equity Fund at the end of the Foundation’s fiscal year last June. [2] It took more time than we expected to share our plans for this pilot program, as we’ve been navigating the operational and logistical issues of creating a new type of fund. Over the past several months since the Equity Fund was first announced, Foundation staff and volunteers have been meeting to discuss the goals and the details of the Equity Fund, and we finally have more to share.

The Equity Fund will be used to support local and international organizations that don’t currently qualify for grants funding from the Foundation, such as external organizations that can help advance our mission and are not working directly on wikiprojects. We recognize that the work of knowledge equity 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.  Through Equity Fund investments, we wish to create an ecosystem of partners, collaborators, and grantees working on knowledge equity that will benefit the movement. This could include journalism projects to increase content about underrepresented regions of the world, or scholarship and research initiatives that are focused on expanding academic understanding of structural barriers to knowledge and potential solutions.

The Equity Fund is separate from the grants that are available for community groups and the ongoing Grants Relaunch [3]. It is a new pool of funds that we can use to directly impact knowledge equity, and specifically barriers due to race that prevent access and participation in free knowledge. 

We are currently working to identify the first grant recipients for the Equity Fund.  The Meta page for the Equity Fund [4] includes more information (the members of the Equity Fund Committee, the five specific focus areas we will be investing in) and next steps. We are also currently looking for recommendations on organizations for grants - you can visit Meta or fill out this survey [5] if you have organizations that are already doing this work and would be a good fit.

Lastly, we do want to emphasize that this is a pilot. There are a lot of open questions that have been raised by community members that we are still figuring out, on topics such as ensuring investment in global organizations and inclusive definitions of racial equity. We welcome additional questions as the project evolves from this early stage. We’re answering questions on Meta, so please join us there. We will also be hosting Office Hours in the coming week:

This is an active step towards addressing the barriers that perpetuate knowledge gaps on our projects and prevent participation in free knowledge. We’re excited to try this new pilot and share our progress.

Thank you,

Lisa Gruwell, Janeen Uzzell, Tony Sebro and the Equity Fund Committee

[1] https://medium.com/freely-sharing-the-sum-of-all-knowledge/we-stand-for-racial-justice-49c31afbabca?source=collection_home---4------6----------------------- 

[2] https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2020-December/096022.html 

[3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Community_Resources/Grants_Strategy_Relaunch_2020-2021 

[4] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Equity_Fund 

[5] https://forms.gle/gzqRH7yMFEGgZb4e6 


Lisa Seitz Gruwell

Chief Advancement Officer

Wikimedia Foundation

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Nadee Gunasena 
Executive Communications Manager
Wikimedia Foundation
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