The mission of the World Wide Web Foundation is to advance the Web to empower humanity. We aim to do this by launching transformative programs that build local capacity to leverage the Web as a medium for positive change.
We envision a world where all people are empowered by the Web. Everyone – regardless of language, ability, location, gender, age or income – will be able to communicate and collaborate, create valued content, and access the information that they need to improve their lives and communities.
The creativity of the billions of new Web users will be unleashed. The Web’s capabilities will multiply, and play an increasingly vital role in reducing poverty and conflict, improving healthcare and education, reversing global warming, spreading good governance and addressing all challenges, local and global.
The Web Foundation will support work that address three main gaps – content, research, and technology – as they relate to the Web. These gaps prevent close to three-quarters of the world’s people from using the Web and impede this technology from reaching its full potential as a medium of empowerment for all people
In order to address these gaps, the Web Foundation has launched three integrated programs:
- Web in Society: Leverage the Web for Social and Economic Change
- Web Science: Understand the Web and Explore New Ideas
- Web Standards: Advance One Web that Works for All
Within each program, the Foundation provides global leadership, project coordination, training, and tools; fosters advancement of technology; and builds communities around our programs throughout the world.
A first step toward filling the “content gap”, the Web Foundation works directly in the field to provide grass roots organizations, governments, NGOs and entrepreneurs with the knowledge, training and tools to share locally-relevant information more effectively. Our initial focus is to support projects that foster social and economic progress in developing countries, and within sectors such as agriculture, health care, education, institutional transparency, women’s issues and other topics of local and global relevance. Enabling content that is accessible using browsers and voice on mobile phones will be key, especially in developing countries where mobiles are the dominant communication device. Anticipated outcomes:
- Projects directly supported by the Foundation will be more effective, thanks to the improved communication, collaboration and creativity.
- New challenges encountered will motivate new work in the Web Science and Standards programs, leading to future Web technologies that better serve people.
- Growth of the Web will be accelerated globally:
- Web Foundation projects will become shining examples that many others emulate,
- Tools and training materials will be available to everyone, openly and for free,
- People trained by the Foundation will have the capacity to independently leverage the Web for future projects.
To address the “knowledge gap”, the Web Foundation collaborates with the Web Science Trust and its development of a new field of study: “Web Science”. Web Science seeks to educate the next generation of scientists who will improve our understanding of the Webʼs complex nature, and explore new technologies that could ultimately make the Web even more powerful for all people on the planet. The Foundation is also developing a Web Index, designed to measure growth and usage of the Web, and guide future investment in the Web.
Web technology serves users as well as it does because the fundamental technologies that make it work are free to use, open for review and globally agreed. To ensure that Web technologies fill identified gaps, and that technologies work together, the Foundation works with the World Wide Web Consortium, which develops free and open technical specifications and guidelines. Standards work aimed at removing barriers to Web access because of literacy, language and ability are particularly important. We must ensure that existing and new Web technologies work increasingly better across an expanding variety of devices used around the world. We also facilitate community-driven solutions to complex technology and policy issues.
It is not in the scope of the Foundation to address infrastructure challenges. Instead, the Foundation will work locally with individuals, communities, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to leverage the potential of existing and new infrastructure to deliver Web-based information and services that are accessible by all.
There are many ways to deliver Web content to people including through browsers and non-browser channels. As of today, the only ubiquitous technologies available via all mobile phones are SMS and voice. Therefore, it is important to consider these channels, along with Web-based channels, in order to have an impact on people’s lives in the short term. The main focus will be on the integrated set of technologies that people and communities themselves deem to be most relevant and useful in accessing and creating information and services.
The Web Foundation was founded by Web inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, and is led by CEO, Steve Bratt, who became the first CEO in September of 2008. The work of the Web Foundation is supported by a Swiss and US Board, international staff, and a number of individuals and organizations who have generously contributed their time and effort.
The work of W3C and WST has been vital towards realizing the vision of the Web as humanity connected. However, despite the tremendous growth of the Web in the past twenty years, it became apparent that there was no organization positioned to address the full scope of challenges preventing all people from leveraging the Web as a tool for empowerment. For this reason, Tim Berners-Lee together with Steve Bratt and others – many of which were from W3C and WST – set out to create the World Wide Web Foundation.
W3C and WSRI remain independent organizations. It is within the scope of the Web Foundation to support the missions of both WST and W3C. The “umbrella” mission of the World Wide Web Foundation will build synergies between Web Science and Web Standards, and work to leverage the talents and results of the W3C and WST communities to ensure that the Web serves all people on the planet.
Tim Berners-Lee remains actively involved as Director among all three organizations: W3C, WST, and the Web Foundation.
The headquarters of the Web Foundation is in Geneva, Switzerland where it has been registered as a public charity with tax-exempt status. The Web Foundation is also incorporated in the United States as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) as determined by the IRS.
We are now starting to build a global community of passionate individuals and organizations who realize the potential and importance of the Web in addressing major challenges. This community will bring together those who want to volunteer, share their ideas, and give money to help make our vision a reality.
Head over to the Get Involved section to find out more.
Unlike many other foundations, the Web Foundation did not start with funds from its founders. Instead, we are relying on the collective generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations from around the world who understand the importance and potential of the Web to empower people’s lives and address global challenges. Whether you can give $10 or $10 million, every dollar makes a difference.
Donations can be made online or by mail. Alternatively, if you would like to learn more about joining our Partners Network, please contact our Development Associate, Craig Heintzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Some labelling systems do exist, but Web Trust is a major research area. Some academic work and business initiatives are studying and exploring trust mechanisms.