This page is part of Benton Foundation's online archive. We've kept some old stuff around for historical purposes.

July 8, 1999 CONTACT: Tony Wilhelm
(202) 638-5770 x302


The Benton Foundation and the AOL Foundation announced today a partnership to create an online clearinghouse for research, initiatives, and resources that address issues related to the "Digital Divide" in America and to provide guideposts on the road to a more connected and inclusive society.

While statistics and descriptions of computer and Internet ownership and use continue to be illuminating, the Digital Divide Clearinghouse will furnish tools and resources that individuals and organizations can use and apply as they focus on bridging the digital divide in their neighborhoods and communities.

Some groups in society continue to lag behind the nation as a whole in computer and Internet use in the home, placing them at a comparative disadvantage economically, socially and educationally. Single-female households, the poor, blacks and Hispanics continue to lose ground bit by bit, while more affluent and more highly educated Americans are striding ahead, "going digital" at a brisk pace.

Benton kicks off a new online publication series on the Digital Divide today, releasing a free electronic newsletter that updates its hugely popular 1998 report, Losing Ground Bit by Bit. Consistent with its core mission-to promote the public interest values of access, equity, and diversity in communications media-Benton's new online "beat" tracks and documents how unequal access to information and technology manifests itself in various walks of life.

Timing for Benton's e-newsletter, called the Digital Beat, coincides with the release of the US Department of Commerce's Falling Through the Net 3, a report that documents trends in telephone, computer and Internet use in American society. Benton's program director for Communications Policy & Practice, Tony Wilhelm, said that "to Larry Irving's credit, he continues to shine a light on information and technology inequality in this nation at a time when it appears that a rising tide is lifting all boats."

"Given the Benton Foundation's 20-year history of serving the public interest in communications, we come to this partnership with the AOL Foundation as a trusted source for information and news on the Digital Divide," said Larry Kirkman, executive director of the Benton Foundation. "As the Internet becomes increasingly cluttered, it is imperative that users find one location on the Internet that can provide context and understanding to important social issues."

The Benton Foundation works to realize the social benefits made possible by the public interest use of communications. Bridging the worlds of philanthropy, public policy, and community action, Benton seeks to shape the emerging communications environment and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. Through demonstration projects, media production and publishing, research, conferences, and grantmaking, Benton probes relationships between the public, corporate, and nonprofit sectors to address the critical questions for democracy in the information age.

The AOL Foundation pioneers the development of strategies and programs that leverage the power of the emerging global medium to benefit society by improving the lives of families and children, and empowering the disadvantaged.

Tony Wilhelm
(202) 638-5770 x302

(c) Benton Foundation
1634 Eye Street NW, 12th Floor
Washington DC 20006 USA
ph:202-638-5770 fax:202-638-5771
email: WWW:
Last updated: 12 July 1999 dkb