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. The Berkman Klein Center is committed to a diversified fundraising strategy; corporate gift support comprises no more than 10% of the Center's annual budget. 

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 alpabetically) followed by a list of class-action settlements that are currently funding activities of the Center as of July, 2017. 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

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: sub-grant through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in support of collaboration with MIT and Harvard’s Center for Research on Computation and Society and Institute for Qualitative Social Science as part of our suite of Privacy initiatives to explore development of easy-to-use tools for researchers to share confidential research data in a privacy-protective manner, through September 2017.

The Berkman Family: annual gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Development division: sub-award through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in support of the Media Cloud project’s research into media landscapes of gendered social norms, through December 2017.

Facebook, Inc.: gift in support of the Center’s Youth and Media education initiative on digital citizenship.

Ford Foundation

  • Internet Freedom program: grant in support of our Responsive Communities Initiative’s work on ubiquitous access to high-speed Internet, through April 2018.
  • Internet Freedom program: grant to carry out empirical research on the means and mechanisms of media manipulation in digital media systems using the Media Cloud platform, and to support Center efforts to support historically underrepresented populations in our Fellows program, through July 2019.

Google, Inc.

  • Gift 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.
  • Gift in support of the Center's participation in the 2017 Google Summer of Code program, a global internship program focused on introducing students to open source software development. Google pays participating organizations a small per-student stipend and a travel allowance for our technical staff to attend their annual meeting. 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

  • Human Rights Program: grant in support of our Harmful Speech project, research into reducing privacy and security risks raised by private sector and government data sharing, and improving transparency and accountability associated with data acquisition and use by private companies, through June 2018.
  • Grant-funded collaboration with the Islamic Legal Studies Program’s SHARIAsource project to develop a web portal to offer cutting-edge content and context on Islamic law to academics, journalists, and policy makers, through August  2017.

John I. Forry and Engie Lee Forry: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Technology Innovation Program: grant in support of our Responsive Communities Initiative’s exploration of municipal use of networked devices through the “Internet of Things,” through August 2018.

Kirkland & Ellis: gift in support of the CopyrightX course, a twelve-week networked course, offered each Spring under the auspices of Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society to explore the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed.

Laura and John Arnold Foundation Science and Technology program: grant in support of the Harvard Open Access Project’s research into open access publishing models and practices, through August 2018.

Miami Foundation: grant to the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, as anchor institutions 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 June 2018.

Michael R. Klein: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

National Foreign Trade Council: gift 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.

National Science Foundation Division of Computer and Network Systems: grant in support of our Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data collaboration with Harvard’s Center for Research on Computation and Society and Institute for Qualitative Social Science to develop legal and policy recommendations around the privacy concerns for sharing social science data, through March 2018. 

Open Society Foundations, U.S. Programs: $163,000 grant in support of Media Cloud analysis of the dynamics of public discourse surrounding the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, through April 2017.

Research Council of Norway: sub-award through the BI Norwegian Business School, to support research into youth and labor in a digitized economy as part of our Youth and Media suite of projects, through October 2019.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research-Learning-Evaluation unit: sub-award through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in support of the Media Cloud project’s research into media landscapes of health and wellness, through December 2017.

Stella P. Holt Foundation: gift for the general support of the Berkman Klein Center.

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 2020.

United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: grant to support a multi-party collaboration on global Internet censorship to build upon the experience, capacity, and measurement tools of the partner institutions to integrate the best available tools and methods for data collection and analysis, through August 2019. 

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Cyber Initiative: grant to support the Berklett project’s cybersecurity clean-slate evaluation of the set of responsibilities related to foreign intelligence gathering, which has expanded to include the exploitation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, through May 2018.

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 which 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 two recent awards, both received in May, 2017. The Center received cy pres awards in connection to the litigation of Fraley v. Facebook (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francicso Division)  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).

Last updated

October 19, 2017