Wikimedia Foundation has announced the first grant recipients of a new $4.5m equity fund to close knowledge gaps and promote racial equity.

New Equity Fund announced the grants to six organizations based in Brazil, Ghana, Jordan, and the United States that address barriers to free knowledge

Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, announced the six inaugural grants as part of the newly launched Knowledge Equity Fund, an effort to close knowledge gaps and address racial inequities in its projects.

According to a statement obtained by The PUNCH, the first round of grants will be given to six global nonprofit organizations, namely, Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, based in Jordan — $250,000; the US-based Borealis Philanthropy Racial Equity in Journalism Fund — $250,000; US-based Howard University School of Law and the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice — $260,000; InternetLab, based in Brazil — $200,000; STEM en Route to Change (SeRCH) Foundation, United States — $250,000; and the Media Foundation of West Africa, Ghana — $150,000.

Stating the vision for the project, Chief Advancement Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation and an advisor on the Equity Fund Committee, Lisa Gruwell, said, “As a movement dedicated to the sum of all knowledge, we must take a more active role in breaking down the barriers to knowledge that have disproportionately impacted communities of color throughout history,”

Continuing, she said, “Racism has skewed the historical record and continues to deny communities of color access to knowledge as a human right. Through the Equity Fund, we are thrilled to support organizations working directly to address these inequities, so that the work of free knowledge can finally reflect the world’s rich diversity.”

The Equity Fund is a $4.5m fund created by the Wikimedia Foundation to advance more equitable, inclusive representation in Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia.

Through the fund, the Foundation will build a robust ecosystem of institutional partners working at the intersection of free knowledge and racial justice.

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The Equity Fund extends the Foundation’s explicit goal to support communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege.

It was conceptualized in June 2020, in the wake of global protests about police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

The six beneficiaries are the first cohort of grant recipients of the Equity Fund.

Investments from the Equity Fund will address one or more of five focus areas:

  • Supporting scholarship & advocacy focused on free knowledge and racial equity;
  • Expanding media and journalism efforts focused on people of color around the world;
  • Addressing unequal internet access;
  • Improving digital literacy skills that impede access to knowledge;
  • Investing in non-traditional records of knowledge such as oral histories.

“Grant recipients are chosen based on their past record of impact, their alignment to Wikimedia’s vision of access to knowledge, and their potential to benefit free knowledge.

“Following this first round of grantees, the Equity Fund will continue to look for additional grantees that align to our goals of addressing racial inequities in free knowledge through subsequent rounds of funding.

“The next round will likely take place in the next year,” the statement added

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