Today we announced a new initiative to improve the quality of information on Wikipedia and broaden our group of contributors. This project, the first of its kind for the Foundation and for any of our projects, was made possible by a generous $1.2 million grant from a longtime Wikimedia Foundation supporter, the Stanton Foundation. The grant will support a pilot program to engage current volunteers, academic experts and students to help improve subject-specific articles on Wikipedia, initially focused on the topic area of public policy.

During the pilot program (which we’re calling the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative), we will work with volunteers, academics, and students at post-secondary educational institutions, and experiment with various ways to use Wikipedia in the classroom. Ultimately we’re aiming to improve the quality of articles, but this experiment will also help us learn more about the use and editing of Wikipedia in the classroom.

We will connect current Wikipedia volunteers with academics and students in order to engage and encourage participation by new editors and subject matter experts. Thrhoughout this process the Wikimedia Foundation aims to develop models and best practices to share with Wikimedia chapters and volunteers all over the world. We are also interested in finding new ways to increase the quality of articles in additional subject areas and languages, and to find new ways to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

Wikimedia is now planning for and hiring the project team for the initiative, which will kick-off in the fall academic semester 2010 (keep an eye on our jobs page for the postings). We will be working with some of the most esteemed educational institutions and public policy schools in the United States.
We’ll continue to share updates and information on the Wikimedia Foundation blog, and you can also track our progress and plans on the Wikimedia Outreach wiki.

We’re grateful to the Stanton Foundation for its continued support of important programs that advance the Wikimedia mission.

Thanks for your interest,
Frank Schulenburg, Public outreach