The Berkman Center for Internet & Society was founded in 1997 with a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman. The Berkman family continues its steadfast support with annual contributions toward the Center’s operations. In July of 2016, the Center became the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, in recognition of a significant gift from Michael R. Klein that not only provides vital core support but also allows the Center to launch new initiatives.
In addition to these major gifts, the Berkman Klein Center has received additional financial support over the years, mostly grants from foundations, but also contributions from corporations, private donors, international organizations, government entities, and court-awarded settlements in class-action cases.
While foundation grants typically support specific research efforts, all individual and corporate donors agree to contribute their funds as gifts rather than grants, for which there are no promised products, results, or deliverables. While the Center has in the past accepted corporate gift support for a small number of projects, not comprising more than 10% of the Center’s annual budget – with donors listed here – the Center currently does not have any corporate funding.
The court-awarded settlements are used to advance the Center’s research and education efforts into online privacy, consistent with the spirit of the litigation. The Berkman Klein Center and its respective scholars retain full discretion on the design and implementation of, and specific expenditures to support, all its academic activities enabled by such gifts and court awards.
Detailed below is a list of gifts and other funding sources (ranked alphabetically) followed by a list of class-action settlements that are currently funding activities of the Center. In addition to those listed by name, we occasionally accept donations from individuals who wish to remain anonymous.
Information on past sources of funding is available here.
GRANTS AND GIFTS
Arcadia Fund: grant in support of the Lumen project (formerly known as “Chilling Effects”), which collects and studies online content removal requests, providing transparency and supporting analysis of the Web’s takedown “ecology,” in terms of who sends requests, why, and to what ends. Through August 2022.
The Berkman Family: unrestricted gift toward online pedagogical innovation such as the use of the Threads platform to enable real-time pseudonymous communication within a defined group, such as a class or community.
Ford Foundation: grant from the Internet Freedom Program to support the Center’s hallmark Fellowship Program in providing modest stipends to accepted Fellows with demonstrated financial need, with particular emphasis on inclusion of traditionally underrepresented populations within the tech sector. Through July 2021.
A second grant from the Ford Foundation supports the Center’s Digital Pandemic Response program efforts to convene a group of experts across sectors and disciplines, including medical and public health practitioners, municipal officials, technologists and other policy experts and institutions to build the missing bridge between the technical and municipal sectors’ responses to public health emergencies. Through April 2021.
The Ford Foundation further supports the Media Cloud project’s study of media misinformation and polarization surrounding the US 2020 election. Through March 2022.
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: grant in support of the Center’s Digital Pandemic Response program efforts to convene a group of experts across sectors and disciplines, including medical and public health practitioners, municipal officials, technologists and other policy experts and institutions to build the missing bridge between the technical and municipal sectors’ responses to public health emergencies. Through June 2021.
Reid Hoffman: unrestricted gift in support of ongoing digital teaching and learning at the Center, including further development and promotion of educational tools such as H2O, in conjunction with the Library Innovation Lab.
Michael R. Klein: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: grant in support of the Rebooting Social Media pop-up institute to convene talent from academia, industry, and the public sector to improve the future of social media and online communication. Through June 2024.
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: grant in support of the Berkman Klein Center’s assessment of governance models within the Network of Centers, and in support of the Digital Pandemic Response program. Through December 2021.
Miami Foundation: grant to the Berkman Klein Center, an anchor institution of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, to conduct evidence-based research to provide guidance to decision-makers in the private and public sectors, and to engage in impact-oriented pilot projects to bolster the use of AI for the public good, while also building an institutional knowledge base on the ethics and governance of AI, fostering human capacity, and strengthening interfaces with industry and policy-makers, through December 2021.
Also from the Miami Foundation: grant to the Berkman Klein Center and affiliated Cyberlaw Clinic that supports the Initiative for a Representative First Amendment, a fellowship program for law students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented among First Amendment and freedom of expression practitioners in order to diversify the set of issues and questions addressed by law school clinics; and to train and assist existing clinics doing work on free expression and related issues to be more welcoming and inclusive in both their practices and their dockets. Through August 2021.
Stiftung Mercator (Mercator Foundation): sub-award via the Humboldt Institut fur Internet und Gesellschaft, in collaboration with the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany, to sponsor collaboration among members of the Network of Centers to engage students and scholars in a series of virtual and in-person programs to identifying ethical challenges associated with advancing digitalization and to conceiving values-based solutions to these global issues. Through June 2022.
National Foreign Trade Council: grant in support of the Global Access in Action project, which conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations, through June 2021.
Craig Newmark Philanthropies: grant in support of the Media Cloud project’s study of media misinformation and polarization surrounding the US 2020 election. Through April 2021.
A gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies supports the Rebooting Social Media pop-up institute to convene talent from academia, industry, and the public sector to improve the future of social media and online communication.
Research Council of Norway: sub-award for Algorithmic Accountability through the BI Norwegian Business School to offer a business ethics perspective on how social, commercial, and political actors on both a local and global scale can ensure accountability in algorithmic decision-making processes. Through December 2022.
Also funded through a sub-award from the BI Norwegian Business School, the Research Council of Norway supports the Triple AI Partnership, an initiative to strengthen the ongoing academic collaboration among three internationally diverse research groups in Norway, the US, and Brazil, to build a world leading knowledge network in responsible Artificial Intelligence. Through July 2023.
Stella P. Holt Foundation: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs: grant aimed at supporting a Research Sprint to evolve the concept of “digital self-determination” from an independent, interdisciplinary, and inclusive perspective. This initiative is conducted in partnership with other members of the Network of Centers, including the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (Germany), ITSRio (Brazil), the Digital Asia Hub (Hong Kong & Thailand), and the Center for AI & Data Governance (Singapore), among others. Through May 2021.
United States Bureau of the Census: sub-award through Georgetown University to support research to examine the interaction between legal standards for privacy protection and formal mathematical definitions of privacy in the context of the data analysis and publication activities of the US Bureau of the Census, through December 2021.
Wikimedia Foundation: grant to support the Hablatam project’s engagement with the Conectados al Sur (CaS) network to conduct qualitative research to better understand youth engagement with online media and to include their perspectives within the various events and activities in the Latin American context. Through June 2021.
The Berkman Klein Center has been the recipient of occasional court-awarded cy pres settlements. These are the results of class action litigation, in which the court decides to issue funds to research or advocacy organizations that conduct work that generally benefits the affected class. Such awards to the Berkman Klein Center have been the result of privacy-related litigation and thus directed toward the Center’s longstanding suite of privacy initiatives.
The Berkman Klein Center currently holds funds related to a 2017 award in the settlement of In re: Ashley Madison Data Security Breach Litigation (U.S District Court, Eastern District of Missouri). In recent years, the Center also received cy pres awards in connection to the litigation of Fraley v. Facebook (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division) and Nader v. Capital One Financial (U.S. District Court of the Central District of California).
In addition, such a settlement has been proposed in connection with the continuing legal case, In Re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation (U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware).