Opportunity Fund


Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund

We launched the fund in honor of the lifelong commitments and contributions of Marjorie and the late Charles to support a stronger, more equitable, and more just America.

The fund will advance fast, fair, and open broadband for everyone in the U.S.

We’re building a generation of scholars, practitioners, and advocates; funding critical research about the future of the internet in our communities; and creating the resources and strategies any state or community can use to bring broadband to everyone.
We're monitoring, measuring, and telling the story of broadband efforts in Benton’s home state of Illinois in collaboration with the Illinois Office of Broadband.

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society welcomes fellowship applications to support a new generation of broadband scholars, practitioners, and advocates. We are interested in supporting a range of projects that can better inform our current or emerging broadband policy debates, either through critical research about the future of the internet in our communities or the development of best practices and tools to advance our field’s work. We welcome applications from people working on broadband access, adoption, equity, and use and especially welcome applications that focus on historically marginalized communities.

Learn more here.

For questions, please reach out to fellowships@benton.org.

Dr. Revati Prasad is the Benton Institute's Director of Research and Fellowships. In this role, Dr. Revati recruits and manages a diverse cohort of fellows—researchers, advocates, and practitioners—and their projects supported by the newly created Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund. In addition, Dr. Prasad leads Benton's research efforts and help develop resources and strategies any state or community can use to bring broadband to everyone. 

2023 awards announced:

We have selected six fellows for the inaugural class, working on a diverse mix of projects—some support empirical research and some are focused on developing best practices. The fellows represent both practitioners and scholars and most projects include a dedicated focus on marginalized populations. In addition to written output, including research reports and white papers—long a Benton strength—these fellowship projects look for other creative ways to share the work with webinars and short films. The projects speak to the three pillars of Benton’s work—Access, Adoption, and Application of broadband and often complement and extend previous work by the Institute. Read about the six fellows and their projects here.

Past Fund awards have gone to:

Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate, to support her podcast “Tech on the Rocks.”

Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia, to aid in research and writing Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity (MIT Press, September 2021).

Denise Linn Riedl, Chief Innovation Officer, City of South Bend, Indiana, to convene and write Toward Inclusive Urban Technology: Lessons, Cases, and Resources Developed by Local Technology Champions and Planners (June 2020).

Victor Pickard, Associate Professor, and Paul Popiel, doctoral student, University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications to write The Media Democracy Agenda: The Strategy and Legacy of FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps (September 2018).

Seven young scholars recognized from 2017-2021 with the Charles Benton Early Career Scholar Award at the annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. The award highlights young academics who are researching digital inclusion and broadband adoption. Awards, which are judged by an independent panel of international scholars, are given at TPRC’s annual conference.

Dr. Colin Rhinesmith, Associate Professor and Director of the Community Informatics Lab in the School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University, to research and write Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives (January 2016) and, with Angela Siefer, Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation (May 2017).

Benton believes that broadband policy—rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity—has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

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