First grants announced from the Wikimedia Endowment to support technical innovation across Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects

A teacher trying Kiwix

13 April 2023, San Francisco, CA, USA – The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, and the Wikimedia Endowment Board today announced the first recipients of grant funding from the Wikimedia Endowment, the long-term fund established in 2016 to support the future of Wikimedia sites. The initiatives that will receive grant funding include Abstract Wikipedia, Kiwix, Machine Learning, and Wikidata. The projects were selected for their ability to foster greater technical innovation on Wikimedia projects, crucial to keeping the sites relevant in a rapidly-evolving landscape

“Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites in the world, with hundreds of millions of people seeking information from its articles every month. Technical innovation is an essential aspect of the continued success and growth of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects,” said Phoebe Ayers, Chair of the Grantmaking and Community Committee of the Wikimedia Endowment Board of Trustees. “These projects were selected for their demonstrated impact to foster greater technical progress in the Wikimedia movement and its aim to build the essential infrastructure for free knowledge.”

The initiatives receiving grant funding from the Wikimedia Endowment include:

  • Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions, $1 million: Abstract Wikipedia aims to build a knowledge base independent of language, making it easier to share, add, translate, and improve knowledge across languages on Wikipedia. Abstract Wikipedia’s technical development is led by the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikifunctions is the underlying technical infrastructure that supports the project.
  • Kiwix, $250,000: Kiwix is a nonprofit which provides an offline reader for Wikipedia content, making knowledge more accessible to people around the world regardless of internet connectivity. Kiwix has more than 4 million users in over 200 countries. 
  • Machine Learning, $950,000: Led by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Machine Learning team, this programmatic area of Wikimedia work focuses on building and strengthening AI and machine learning infrastructure on Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. Machine learning tools make the work of volunteer editors more efficient, enabling them to focus time on edits that require complex human judgment. This work includes the development of algorithms to measure the quality of Wikipedia articles and machine learning models that help catch incidents of vandalism on Wikimedia projects. 
  • Wikidata, $1 million: Wikidata is the multilingual, structured knowledge base that powers knowledge on Wikipedia. With more than 100 million data items, it is the most edited Wikimedia project. Wikidata more easily connects knowledge from Wikimedia projects with machines, including voice assistants, websites, and other platforms that leverage Wikimedia content. The grant from the Endowment will fund the existing multi-year plan for the project which is led by Wikimedia Deutschland, the independent Wikimedia affiliate based in Germany, in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation.

“When the Endowment was launched in 2016, its aim was to not only preserve and sustain Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, but to support their continued growth and innovation. With the projects funded today, we’re realizing that core vision and fostering a more sustainable future for Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects to be useful, relevant, and meaningful for generations to come. We’re grateful to the incredible donors who shared this vision with us and helped the Endowment reach this crucial stage of development,” said Lisa Gruwell, President of the Wikimedia Endowment and Deputy to the CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation. 

While the Wikimedia Endowment is governed independently, it has a shared goal of ensuring  long-term, permanent support for the future of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. The Grantmaking and Community Committee of the Endowment Board is responsible for the general oversight of the Endowment’s grantmaking strategy, funding recommendations, evaluation and reporting, and community affairs. In 2023, the Endowment reached a milestone in its development, allowing it to use a portion of its investment income to support the technical innovation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects and their growth for the future. 

This important landmark in the Endowment’s evolution has been built step-by-step with steady actions taken throughout the past seven years to strengthen the Wikimedia Endowment’s governance and structure. These steps include the Endowment reaching its initial funding milestone, welcoming new Board members, achieving its independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and other crucial governance updates, including the creation of Board committees and operational policies.

Endowment donors who choose to be publicly recognized are listed on our Benefactors page. Additionally, more than 2,300 members of the Wikipedia Legacy Society have committed to leave a portion of their estate to the Wikimedia Endowment. 

About the Wikimedia Endowment 

The Wikimedia Endowment is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in times of uncertainty and enables long-term investments to support their growth and innovation. 

About the Wikimedia Foundation 

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We are also supported by major donors who share our vision. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.


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