Washington, DC – The Media Democracy Fund has been established to support advocacy groups working to build and protect public access to vital, democratic media. Founded on the belief that freedom of expression and access to information are basic human rights, the Fund is being initiated with donations totaling $1,240,000 from the following foundations and donors: Albert A. List Foundation, Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Open Society Institute, Quixote Foundation, Arca Foundation, Otto Haas Charitable Trust, HKH Foundation, Park Foundation and individual donor, Peter Kent.

“It is critical that we involve as many voices as possible in the debates about the infrastructure and governance of our information and communications systems. The Media Democracy Fund is a catalyst for increasing philanthropic investment in this critical area,” said Becky Lentz of the Ford Foundation.

The Media Democracy Fund is dedicated to shaping a future media environment that serves democratic values and civic participation. Access to the free flow of information and a diversity of perspectives is essential to the pursuits of a pluralistic, just, and democratic society. As a culture, we are now experiencing a proliferation of new technologies, converging media delivery platforms, government deregulation, unprecedented corporate consolidation and the erosion and commercialization of the public domain. We are in the midst of an information crisis, one that is having a profound effect on people’s lives and the health of our society.

“Access to knowledge and vigorous debate is a critical element of a healthy democracy and civil society. Media policies define how we see, hear, learn, and understand the world. Today’s policy decisions will determine the “haves” and “have-nots” of the digital age,” commented David Haas of the Phoebe Haas Charitable Trust.

The Media Democracy Fund was initiated with a seed grant from the Albert A. List Foundation. It will be managed by the Proteus Fund in Amherst, Massachusetts, and directed by Helen Brunner in Washington DC. Meg Gage, President of the Proteus Fund, states, “The FundÂ’s focus on support for community and state-level media groups is not only key to strengthening democracy in the abstract, but by leveraging public control and access to media, these groups are contributing to the real infrastructure necessary for lasting social change. HelenÂ’s previous experience leading a national advocacy organization and her10-year involvement as a philanthropic advisor in telecommunications and free expression policy makes her an ideal leader for the Fund. Her intimate knowledge of the field will target the FundÂ’s giving in the most responsive and effective ways.”

Grants will be made from the fund on a competitive basis, with the first grants issued in December of 2006. The request for funding proposals and application guidelines may be viewed at: www.proteusfund.org/mdf