• 1981

    Benton: Benton Foundation founded, based in Washington, DC and Evanston, IL

    Policy World: Mark Fowler is appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (-1987)

    World: Ronald Reagan becomes 40th President of the United States; 23-node ARPANET, Internet Protocol, and TCP developed; HBO, MTV and CNN are available to cable audiences nationwide via satellite; first mobile phone network

  • 1982

    Benton: With the conviction that public interest communications is essential for a strong democracy, Benton makes an early investment in the just-launched CSPAN and publishes Gavel to Gavel, A Guide to the Televised Proceedings of Congress, the first viewer's guide for the network

    World: Four percent of American homes own a VCR

  • 1983

    Benton: Benton enters a collaboration with the Council on Foundations to produce the video, We Don't Fund Media, and the publication, How to Fund Media, to encourage and challenge foundations to support media projects. From the start, Benton makes media education and capacity building for non-profit organizations central to its mission. Communicating in the '80s: New Options for the Nonprofit Community is a primer on new technology applications

    Policy World: FCC Chairman Fowler famously declares TV is nothing more than a "toaster with pictures"

    World: The "network of networks" model is born, and the term Internet is used for the first time

  • 1984

    Benton: Alert to new public interest issues raised by emerging communications, Benton awards multi-year grants to ACLU's Project on Computer Technology and Privacy and ACLU's Project on Information Technology and Civil Liberties 

    Policy World: AT&T monopoly broken up; Cable Communications Act permits municipalities to collect a 5 percent franchise fee, but does not mandate money be used for local programming; President Reagan reelected

  • 1985

    Benton: Benton awards multi-year grants to the Institute for Public Policy Advocacy for a program to train non-profit leaders and the public interest community to use media strategically in public policy advocacy campaigns

  • 1986

    Benton: 1. Benton provides seed money for the development of POV, the acclaimed and long-running anthology series for independent producers of nonfiction programs on PBS; 2. Benton awards NPR a two-year grant for coverage of, and commentary on, communications and information technology issues 

  • 1987

    Benton: 1. Benton publishes Justice for All: A Guide to the Supreme Court of the United States for C-SPAN; 2. Benton awards a series of multi-year grants to protect and expand public access to vital government information by supporting "Right-to-Know" projects of the American Library Association, OMB Watch, and People for the American Way 

    Policy World: Dennis Patrick is appointed FCC Chairman

    World: Half of US homes subscribe to cable TV services


  • 1988

    Benton: Benton awards multi-year grants to the Campaign Finance Research Institute to develop a research library on Money in Politics

    World: More than half of US homes own a VCR with the cost falling to less than $200; George H. Bush elected President of the United States

  • 1989

    Benton: 1. Benton frames the critical communications and information issues federal policymakers will face in the 1990's by commissioning eight policy option papers on matters ranging from spectrum fees to information policy, and conducts congressional briefings; 2. Jerry Berman and Donna Lambert join Benton as Fellows

    Policy World: Alfred Sikes is appointed FCC Chairman (-1993)

    World: Time Inc. and Warner Bros. merge, creating America's largest media company

  • 1990

    Benton: Benton co-founds Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media (now Media Impact Funders)

    Policy World: Children's Television Act requires commercial broadcasters to air at least 3 hours a week of educational and informational programming

  • 1991

    World: Tim Berners-Lee invents World Wide Web; Three out of four US homes own a VCR

  • 1992

    Benton: 1. Benton receives its first major grant from MacArthur Foundation to launch the Communications Policy Program; 2. Benton and the Center for Strategic Communications redefine nonprofit communications by publishing Strategic Communications for Nonprofits, a 10-guide series on media relations, production, and networking, and hold regional workshops. Carnegie, Ford, MacArthur, and Robert Wood Johnson are among the many foundations to distribute the guides to their grantees.

    World: Bill Clinton elected President of the United States

    Policy World: Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act promises competition, better services, and lower prices, but subscription costs will rise several times faster than inflation throughout the 90s


  • 1993

    Benton: 1. Benton produces the Advocacy Video Conference, bringing together 300 producers from 17 countries to share strategies and techniques in the use of video for social change. Sponsors include MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Video Resources, The Freedom Forum, and Sony Corporation; 2. Access and Equity in the Emerging Communications Environment is the first national meeting to raise the bar on the definition of universal service with scholars, policy-makers, and public interest advocates debating a set of commissioned papers

    Policy World: Reed Hundt is appointed FCC Chairman (-1997)

    World: The first graphical Web browser, Mosaic, is released

  • 1994

    Benton: Gathering 700 non-profit leaders to claim a stake in shaping the new media environment, Benton organizes the Public Interest Summit, broadcast live on C-SPAN and NPR. The Summit is funded by a dozen foundations including Ford, MacArthur, Carnegie, Kellogg, and Packard. Produced in cooperation with the White House's National Information Infrastructure Task Force, Vice President Al Gore delivers the keynote address

    Policy World: Department of Commerce begins awarding grants for innovative uses of digital network technologies in the public and nonprofit sectors (-2002) 

    World: Amazon founded

  • 1995

    Benton: The Learning Connection: Schools in the Information Age becomes the first of Benton's What's Going On reports, funded by the Joyce and Kellogg Foundations, mapping communications policies, practices, and principles in key areas where the public interest is being contested, including schools, libraries, and health care.

    Policy World: Department of Commerce releases Falling Through the Net: A Survey of the "Have Nots" in Rural and Urban America revealing gaps in computer ownership and telephone access

  • 1996

    Benton: 1. Benton launches Headlines daily digest; 2. Sound Partners for Community Health (1996-2006), brings public TV and radio stations and community partners together to produce public health programs, funded by Robert Woods Johnson Foundation with $10 million over ten years; 3. Open Studio: The Arts Online (1996-1998) provides training for hundreds of local arts groups on using the Internet and is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ford and Microsoft Foundations; 4. Advertising Council, Benton, and the Coalition for America's Children kick-off KidsCampaigns and the Whose Side Are You On? A Campaign to Improve the Lives of Children; 5. Benton named legatee of the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council; 6.  Benton and Consumer Federation of American release Universal Service: A Historical Perspective and Policies for the 21st Century; 7. Benton and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration jointly sponsor the Up for Grabs: Communications Practice and Policy in the Public Interest conference. The conference brings together policy makers, industry representatives, and community service providers to discuss applications of advanced telecommunications technology in improved health care, education and civic participation. 

    World: President Clinton reelected

    Policy World: Congress passes Telecommunications Act including the E-rate, a federal commitment to connect all public classrooms and libraries to the Internet; Library Services and Technology Act sets new goals for the use of federal funds to support libraries' role in providing access to information technology

  • 1997

    Benton: 1. Charles Benton serves on Presidential Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (-1998); 2. Benton continues publishing the What's Going On series funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation. Publications include Local Places, Global Connections: Libraries in the Digital Age and The Learning Connection: Schools in the Information Age; 3. Richard Somerset-Ward becomes Benton Senior Fellow (-2002); 3. Benton releases Destination Democracy: A Guide to Money and Politics, a website, video, and discussion guide promoting solutions for campaign finance reform, with funding from the Joyce and Ford Foundations.

    Policy World: Vice President Gore convenes presidential advisory committee to recommend public interest obligations of digital television broadcasters who have been given $100 billion worth of spectrum to transition away from traditional, analog TV; William Kennard is appointed FCC Chairman (-2001)

  • 1998

    Benton: 1. Benton continues the What's Going On series with Losing Ground Bit by Bit: Low-Income Communities in the Information Age drawing attention to the digital divide; 2. As part of a Kellogg Foundation initiative on libraries and community information, Benton undertakes strategic communications research published as Buildings, Books and Bytes: Libraries and Communities in the Digital Age and produces a communications toolkit, The Future's in the Balance: A Toolkit for Libraries and Communities in the Digital Age; 3. Between 1998-2000, Benton begins a series of online service hubs that demonstrate the power of the Internet to aggregate online resources, provide interactive forums, and report on communications issues for: children and families (connectforkids.org funded by AT&T, Packard, Knight, and the Annie E. Casey Foundations); international development (oneworld.net funded with a major grant by Ford Foundation, and additional funding from Omidyar Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Open Society Institute); and bridging the digital divide (digitaldividenetwork.org funded by corporate and private foundations including AOL, AT&T, Gates, Kellogg and Markle)   

    World: There are over one million websites on the Internet; digital television transmission begins at 26 stations in top 10 markets; Google founded

  • 1999

    Benton: 1. Benton publishes Native Networking: Telecommunications and Information Technology in Indian Country; 2.  Benton completes the What's Going On series with Networking for Better Health: Health Care in the Information Age; 3. With funds from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Benton produces Debate America, a web portal that maps a broad scope of local and national issues, and gives a platform for community voices to engage in thoughtful, interactive public deliberation 

    World: There are 150 million Internet users worldwide; 50% in the US

    Policy World: Because of the FCC's E-rate program, 95 percent of U.S. schools are connected to the Internet

  • 2000

    Benton: 1. Benton creates the Digital Divide Network, providing the most comprehensive map of resources and strategies for bridging the digital divide with progamming help from the National Urban League. DDN featured news, research, and data about the problem of unequal access to technology, and one-stop resources and information for communities seeking local solutions; 2. With funding from the Joyce Foundation, Benton and the Education Development Center's Center for Children & Technology write The E-rate in America: A Tale of Four Cities, the first in-depth analysis of the federal E-Rate program, analyzing the impact in four Midwest school systems of the federal commitment to connect every classroom; 3. Benton publishes Richard Someset-Ward's Connecting Communities, a report funded by Ford Foundation, as part of the Public Media in the Digital Age series.

    World: George W. Bush elected President of the United States

  • 2001

    Benton: 1. Benton is home for the US center for OneWorld.net, the leading global information service, search engine, and network of organizations working for sustainable development and human rights;              2. Benton, MacArthur Foundation and P.O.V. publish Making Television Matter, a guide for producers, broadcasters, activists, and funders; 3. MacArthur Foundation gives Benton a three-year grant to fund core policy work 

    World: Media giants Time/Warner and AOL merge; 400 million Internet users worldwide and 1 billion Web pages on the Internet

    Policy World: Michael Powell is appointed FCC Chairman (-2005)

  • 2002

    Benton: Benton and EDC's CCT continue their partnership and write Great Expectations: Leveraging America's Investment in Education Technology which examines the five-year old E-Rate program 


  • 2003

    Benton: Benton and EDC's CCT continue their partnership with The Sustainability Challenge: Taking EdTech to the Next Level

  • 2004

    Benton: Jim Kohlenberger becomes a Benton Senior Policy Fellow (2004-2008)

    World: Facebook launched; President Bush reelected 

  • 2005

    Benton: Benton publishes Jim Kohlenberger's Citizen's Guide to Public Service Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters with funding  from Ford Foundation; Benton appointed to the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee 

    Policy World: Kevin Martin is appointed FCC Chairman (-2009)

  • 2007

    Benton: 1. Charles Benton asks President Bush for a national broadband strategy to guarantee universal, affordable communications access for all Americans; 2. Benton publishes Jim Kohlenberger's Universal Affordable Broadband for All American: How to Modernize Universal Service for the 21st Century and Connect Americans to a New Era of Digital Opportunity; 3. Benton and Robert Woods Johnson Foundation launch New Routes in Community Health; 4. Alliance for Public Technology honors Charles Benton with Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award; 5. Benton publishes What's Going on in Community Media? with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    World: Apple releases first iPhone


  • 2008

    Benton: Benton writes An Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation's Critical Challenges calling for a national broadband strategy

    World: Barack Obama elected President of the United States

  • 2009

    Policy World: Congresses passes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act providing $7.2B to expand broadband's reach, calling for a National Broadband Plan and a National Broadband Map; Julius Genachowski is appointed FCC Chairman (-2013)

  • 2010

    Policy World: FCC releases Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan

  • 2011

    Benton: 1. Benton reports on National Broadband Plan progress, including universal service reform; 2. Alliance for Communications Democracy and Benton release nationwide Public, Educational, and Governmental Access Channels (PEG) study

    World: Comcast purchases NBC Universal

  • 2012

    Benton: 1. To help communities attempting to take control of their broadband futures, Benton and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance publish Chris Mitchell's Broadband at the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next-Generation Networks; 2. Charles Benton honored with Everett C. Parker Award from United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication Inc.; 3. Charles Benton sworn in to serve on the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Board

    World: Demonstrations against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) make for biggest online protest day ever; President Obama reelected

  • 2013

    Benton: 1. Adrianne Benton Furniss becomes Benton Executive Director; 2. Benton publishes The New Network Compact: Making the IP Transition Work for Vulnerable Communities

    Policy World: Tom Wheeler is appointed FCC Chairman (-2017)

    World: Japan's SoftBank completes purchase of Sprint


  • 2014

    Benton: Andrew Jay Schwartzman tapped as Benton Senior Counselor at important new Public Interest Communications Law Project at Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation. Multi-year project is funded by a consortia of foundations, individuals, and companies including Alphawood Foundation, Laura and John Arnold, Benton, the Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Ford Foundation, Paul Gallant, Media Democracy Fund, Participant Media, and Voqal USA 

    World: Comcast attempts to purchase Time Warner Cable; HBO's John Oliver famously begins a show with, "Our top story tonight concerns the Internet."

    Policy World: FCC modernizes E-rate program for broadband era

  • 2015

    Benton: 1. Benton Foundation Founder and Chairman Charles Benton dies; Leonard Jay Schrager succeeds Charles Benton as Chairman; 2. Gig.U and Benton give community leaders roapmap for getting better, faster, cheaper broadband with Blair Levin and Denise Linn's The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook; 3. Charles Benton and the Benton Foundation are recipients of the Alliance for Community Media Dirk Koning-George Stoney Award for Humanistic Communications; 4. Dr. Colin Rhinesmith named Benton Faculty Research Fellow (2015-2017); 6. Charles Benton is posthumous recipient of NATOA's Community Broadband Visionary Award

    World: Comcast terminates Time Warner Cable merger agreement; Verizon purchases AOL

    Policy World: FCC Adopts Open Internet rules and classifies broadband a telecommunications service; Broadband Opportunity Council releases report and recommendations

  • 2016

    Benton: 1. Dr. Colin Rhinesmith writes Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives to inform FCC's efforts to modernize its Lifeline program for the broadband age; 2. Benton publishes Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan for the Schools, Libraries and Healthcare Broadband Coalition (SHLB); 3. National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) gives the first annual Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion award to Seattle's David Keyes; 4. Next Century Cities gives Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Awards to Louisville, Raleigh, and Austin; 5. Benton publishes the first edition of The Emerging World of Broadband Public–Private Partnerships for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice 

    World: Donald Trump elected President of the United States

    Policy World: Appeals Court upholds FCC's 2015 Open Internet rules; FCC modernizes Lifeline program to include affordable broadband connectivity for low-income consumers

  • 2017

    Benton: 1. Benton publishes Dr. Colin Rhinesmith and Angela Siefer's Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation; 2. NDIA gives the second annual Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion award to Emy Tseng of NTIA; 3. Denise Linn Riedl named Benton Fellow; 4. The Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) awards the first Charles Benton Junior Scholar Award to Mirjam Lange; 5. Jonathan Sallet named Benton Senior Fellow

    Policy World: Ajit Pai is appointed FCC Chairman (2017 - present); Congress overturns FCC's broadband privacy rules