Grassroots Grant Funding: Redistributing Wealth to Redistribute Power

October 14, 2003

Democracy Now! attends a major conference of progressive foundations and grant makers from across the country in Tucson, Arizona. We speak with members of the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation and Funding Exchange about grant funding strategies and opportunities.

Election season is rapidly approaching and conservative funding organizations are in their heyday.

Over the past decades, they have built up such institutions as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute. At the same time, we are witnessing a FOX "Newsization" of media in this country — with increasingly sensationalized coverage that is heavily skewed toward supporting the agenda of the right.

Conservative funding organizations have long understood the power of the media in directing public opinion — and the institutions that they fund are the dominant forces commentating on radio and TV networks.

Because the print and broadcast media are essential in shaping public debate, right-wing foundations actively support conservative newspapers, journals, student papers, television networks and radio programs that disseminate their message.

For example, The American Spectator, an influential conservative news source, is heavily supported by the Bradley, Olin, and Scaife Foundations, among others.

What opportunities exist for grassroots, progressive media organizations?

Well, a major conference of progressive foundations and grant makers from across the country are holding their annual conference in Tucson, Arizona. Their focus — building power for social change. The National Network of Grantmakers (NNG) is an organization of individuals involved in funding social and economic justice.