Benton Foundation

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Benton Foundation is a "private foundation, an institutional hybrid, bridging the worlds of philanthropy, public policy and community action. We assume diverse, crosscutting roles as nonpartisan knowledge broker, convener, public interest advocate and policy analyst. The Foundation has an endowment of approximately $10 million, the annual income from which is devoted to our own operating projects. Because of Benton's pioneering work, a number of foundations and corporations have provided additional funding."

"The mission of the Benton Foundation is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. Current priorities include: promoting a vision and policy alternatives for the digital age in which the benefit to the public is paramount; raising awareness among funders and nonprofits on their stake in critical policy issues; enabling communities and nonprofits to produce diverse and locally responsive media content." [1]


"The Benton Foundation is the legacy of William Benton (1900-1973), the founder of the advertising agency Benton & Bowles and publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He was a public servant who championed free speech and civil liberties. He served as United States Senator, UNESCO Ambassador and University of Chicago Vice President. He was the first in Congress to propose the motion for expulsion of Joseph McCarthy from the U.S. Senate in 1951." ...

"In a break with the conservative tradition of many philanthropists, William Benton admonished the trustees to "favor those things which seem risky, unorthodox, hazardous, and even unlikely to succeed-but which, with success, offer more than ordinary promise and in some cases very exceptional promise."

"Today's Benton Foundation continues many of these original interests of its founder, exploring the Internet's potential as an "open university" devoted to helping ordinary citizens become more civically engaged and to gain and share knowledge about opportunities for improving their lives and the lives of their families, leading to the enrichment of the entire community.

"The Foundation is now chaired by its founder's son, Charles Benton, chairman of Public Media, Inc., and a longstanding champion of public broadcasting, public information and public debate. He served as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters." [2]

"The Foundation was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) private foundation in 1948 under the name William Benton Foundation. In 1981, it was restructured and renamed as the Benton Foundation." [3]


"In February of 2004, the Benton Foundation, along with the Education Development Center, created the Center for Media & Community to strengthen both actual and virtual communities, promote the development of 21st century skills for underserved youth, and foster lifelong learning. Also in 2004, OneWorld U.S., a joint venture of the Benton Foundation and OneWorld International, began preparations for its launch as an independent nonprofit organization. With multi-year commitments from The Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, OneWorld U.S. will continue its online publishing of U.S. and international perspectives on human rights and sustainable development gathered from OneWorld partner organizations worldwide." [4]

In 2006 the Ford Foundation "awarded it a $100,000 grant in support of the Media and Democracy Coalition." [1]

2006 - 2008 Board of Directors

2006 Staff


2008 Staff

2001 Board of Directors

2001 Trustees

2001 Staff

2001 Annual Report Pdf

1998 People [2]






Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Ford Foundation Grant to Reform Media Landscape, Benton Foundation, accessed January 29, 2008.
  2. Tool Kit, Benton Foundation, accessed January 29, 2008.