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Ford Foundation President Urges Grant-Makers to Enter Broadband Arena

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WASHINGTON, April 8, 2010 – Ford Foundation President Luis Ubiñas is urging foundations and other grant-makers to open their wallets and their minds to help expansion and adoption of high-speed Internet access throughout the United States.

In a new opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy titled “Why Foundations of All Kinds Should Promote Internet Access,” he argues that the Federal Communications Commission’s recent release of the National Broadband Plan “holds profound implications for all of us who are working to expand opportunity in America.”

He writes “as the Internet becomes a gateway to democratic participation, economic opportunity and human expression, it is critical to the future of our country—and our philanthropic missions—to ensure that everyone has high-speed…access to an open Internet.”

Ubiñas argues that foundations in the past have tended to view grant making focused on Internet policy as a media issue, but says it’s time to take a different approach that better fits with contemporary reality.

He sees the Internet today as fundamental “to every issue we care about. Efficient and low-cost health care, for example, will soon depend on high-speed access to online medical and diagnostic tools. Some 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies accept job applications solely online, according to one study. And digital classrooms that use high-speed Internet are already connecting students with a vast new world of ideas and information.”

The foundation is committing $50 million over the next five years to support efforts that ensure that broadband access “becomes a reality for all citizens and that public-interest values in the online space itself are protected.”

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