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Funding & Support Policies

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 have been 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 2023.

Archewell Foundation: a gift in support of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media’s fellowship program convening talent from academia, industry, and the public sector to improve the future of social media and online communication.

The Berkman Family: 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.

David Bohnett Foundation: gift in support of an art exhibition curated by metaLAB@Harvard to query contemporary reflections of artists and artistic researchers on, with, and by social media. The show and associated programming will be held at the Harvard Art Museums in the spring of 2022.

Georgetown University: grant to collaborate on concepts of law, technology, and ethics, such as privacy and confidentiality, individual and group consent, individual and group fairness, and distribution. Through December 2024.

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. An additional unrestricted gift helps support the Institute for Rebooting Social Media.

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.

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 2022.

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 2022.

Also from the Miami Foundation: grant in support of the Berkman Klein Fellows program to leverage the best thinkers, builders, and do-ers from different disciplinary, socio-economic, and racial backgrounds, to engage substantively and rigorously over a sustained period of time with the many problems and opportunities that technology affords. Through August 2023.

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.

Craig Newmark Philanthropies: gift 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.

Omidyar Network: grant in support of the Good ID Project’s work and activities around digital identity, including through a summer 2022 BKC Research Sprint and through ongoing participation with the international Network of Internet and Society Research Centers. Through October 2022.

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 AI Triple 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 Agency for Development and Cooperation: sub-award through the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies to study existing state-of-the-art qualitative methods from the non-digital world to capture youth voices and perspectives, and then pilot a transformed new method of engaging young people. Through June 2022.

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs: grant to build upon our prior research aimed at evolving the concept of “digital self-determination” from an independent, interdisciplinary, and inclusive perspective, to study the dynamics of multiple stakeholders within the US public school environment. Through June 2022.

COURT-AWARDED SETTLEMENTS

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’s most recent cy pres award was a 2017 share of 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). The Center does not currently hold any funds from such settlements.