Media Democracy Fund is a catalyst for racial justice and equity in digital society.

Our Mission

We bring together diverse voices to design inclusive and responsible solutions, and empower public interest advocates to create an environment where digital technologies and the internet have a long-term, positive impact on society.


Equitable Access

to the internet and other resources communities need to thrive online

Power Building

with individuals and movements against harms caused or exacerbated by use of the internet and other digital technologies


for tech companies and other institutions that exercise oppressive power in a digital society

What We Do

MDF has made more than $50 million in investments since our founding in 2006. But we do more than grantmaking. We work hand-in-hand with grantees, funders and allies to connect partners from all corners of the field, to ensure advocates have the smart thinking and resources they need to act quickly on some of the most pressing issues of our time. MDF's work includes:




Research & Policy Development

The digital ecosystem is constantly changing. MDF works with funding partners and allies to conduct research and field scans to guide our thinking, bring new voices to the conversations, and promote equity in our ever-evolving technological world.


As an intermediary funder, MDF provides targeted grants and contracts to advocacy organizations working at the intersection of digital equity, tech accountability, and power building. MDF identifies emerging needs and provides grants quickly so organizations can take action and respond to threats as they happen.

Funder Education

MDF works closely with funding partners to keep them abreast of the latest challenges and opportunities, and organize support across priority issue areas so they can make smart, strategic investments in a rapidly changing environment.

Movement Building

MDF is a vital connector among grantees, funders, and allies in a rapidly changing field. We bring diverse people and organizations together – helping to broaden approaches to advocacy, organizing and problem-solving – to develop winning strategies and build support for tech policies that promote digital rights, racial equity and justice.

Leadership Development

MDF believes that having technologists on staff can help advocacy groups investigate new challenges and identify novel ways of confronting injustice in the digital age. Since 2017, MDF has participated in the incubation of public interest technology as a field through our Tech Exchange program, which matches public interest technologists with civil society groups around the world.

  • Research & Policy Development

  • Grantmaking

  • Funder Education

  • Movement Building

  • Leadership Development

Program Areas


Digital Equity

Launched in 2022, MDF’s Digital Equity and Opportunity Initiative (DEOI) provides a major strategic opportunity for national, state and place-based funders to meet the needs of underserved communities via the implementation of the broadband portions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. DEOI provides core funding support to state broadband coalitions that have the mobilization capacity to maximize the opportunity and drive equitable outcomes in digital access, to jumpstart the building of a lasting civic infrastructure.


Tech Accountability

MDF believes it is essential to enforce tech accountability measures for corporations and individuals whose reach, practices, policies, and conditions conflict with the values of justice and equity. Tech accountability strategies – such as platform research, strategic litigation, and advocacy – across much of MDF’s programmatic work and are designed to respond to the increasingly dangerous power of unregulated, for-profit technologies.

Disinfo Defense League

Disinfo Defense League

The Disinfo Defense League (DDL) is a distributed national network of more than 250 community-based organizations that builds power to protect communities of color from online racialized disinformation and harmful narratives. DDL has cultivated a close partnership between researchers, narrative builders, and organizing strategists to produce actionable resources to our wider membership, and has built capacity through education and training and by fostering community-based disinformation expertise within the network and democratizing the skills, tactics, and knowledge of the field.

NetGain Partnership

NetGain Partnership

MDF leads strategy on behalf of the NetGain Partnership, a philanthropic collaboration that seeks to advance the public interest in the digital age. NetGain leverages its network and collective resources to address challenges that are too large and too complex for any one organization to tackle alone. Since 2018, NetGain has focused on “digital threats to democracy” and strategies to hold large platforms accountable. Through direct and pooled funding, MDF and NetGain have worked to strengthen transatlantic civil society collaboration between the United States and Europe, build new civil society networks across the Global South, identify and fill gaps within US and European civil society, develop a taxonomy of harms caused by digital platforms, and seed a growing ecosystem of accountable, public interest technology scholarship.


Tech Exchange Fellowship

MDF believes that technologists are needed to help advocacy groups investigate new challenges, identify novel ways of confronting injustice, and mobilize public support in the digital age. Since 2017, MDF has participated in the effort to establish and grow the field of public interest technology by providing matching grants to a handful of advocacy groups – the majority outside of the US – for them to create full-time staff technologist positions. MDF serves as the coordinator of both the program and the Tech Exchange staffers, creating a global network of public interest technologists to advance innovative work in digital society.

Unicorn Fund

Unicorn Fund

The Unicorn Fund is an experimental award program that supports under-resourced grassroots leaders who face attacks for expressing their ideas, telling the truth, and taking a stand on the front lines of narrative change. Since 2020, MDF has identified, supported, and celebrated advocates (including prominent journalists, activists, researchers, technologists, and others) who inspire us to take a stand and exercise courage, persistence, and bold visions that advance equity and justice, and disrupt divisive toxic narratives.

funder convening

Funder Education

Funder education spans MDF’s programmatic priorities. MDF’s education and convening power is executed in three main ways: networking and connecting people; introducing and promoting ideas, research, and analysis; and providing space and resources for partners to self-organize. This work can take the form of webinars and briefings on emerging issues and opportunities, as well as curated meetings and events. These efforts are designed to facilitate funder collaboration and serve as an extension and embodiment of MDF’s catalytic role in the field.

action fund

Media Democracy Action Fund

Media Democracy Action Fund (MDAF), our affiliated 501(c)4 project, makes grants in support of lobbying in the public interest – a capability that complements MDF’s 501(c)3 public education investments. MDF’s private foundation partners are not consulted about lobbying activity, and no private foundation partners participate in MDAF grantmaking.

Disinfo Defense League
NetGain Partnership
Unicorn Fund
funder convening
action fund

About Us

MDF is a project of the New Venture Fund, a US-based 501(c)3 public charity. MDF’s annual grantmaking cycle supports our grantees’ general operations and projects, and we maintain the ability to rapidly fund projects that address opportunities or threats as they arise throughout the year.




Interim Executive Director

Before joining MDF, she was the Senior Investigative Researcher and Special Projects Manager at First Draft, where her research focused on disinformation affecting Black and Latinx communities. Previously, she worked at TED Conferences on projects geared towards information disorder, at her alma mater New York University conducting user experience research, and as an editor of photography at media service organizations such as Meredith Corporation and NBC Universal. She holds a Masters of Fine Art from Parsons School of Design in Art, Media, and Technology, as well as a Master of Science from NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Integrated Digital Media.



Director, Special Projects

Kristin is a social researcher and organizer. From 2001 to 2016, she worked with the Future of Music Coalition, a national nonprofit that advocates for musicians. She co-directed FMC’s Artist Revenue Streams research project, which collected data directly from thousands of US-based musicians and composers to better understand the changes in their sources of income. In the 1990s, she was the co-owner of Simple Machines, a DC-based independent record label that released over seventy records in eight years. During that time, she also played guitar in the band Tsunami, which released four albums on Simple Machines and toured extensively. Kristin has a BA in Sociology and an MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy.

Tessa Menatian


Program and Development Officer

Tessa is a writer and storyteller with a range of digital media experience, including ghostwriting, research, virtual course development, and social media management. She supports MDF’s development activities, grant making, and communications. Tessa holds a BA in Written Arts.



Manager of Research and Training

Jaime is the Manager of Research and Training. He previously worked as a senior researcher and projects manager at First Draft where he monitored political and health mis- and disinformation in Spanish-language and Latinx communities. He was a former researcher at NBC News Investigations and data editor at Type Investigations. Jaime has a BA in international relations and attended the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.



Program Manager, Development and Communication

Nick manages MDF’s development activities and supports a range of other efforts to advance MDF’s mission. Nick joined the MDF staff after eight years as a consultant to MDF and other philanthropic projects, including the HKH Foundation, the Piper Fund and Public Interest Projects/NEO Philanthropy. He maintains a small photography and video production company called Light & Noise, Inc., which is currently working on long-term projects about radio astronomy and the United States atomic weapons program. Nick holds a BA in Philosophy, with a focus on feminist philosophy of science.



Administrative Coordinator

Sarah has been with MDF part time since 2013, supporting MDF's staff with the nitty gritty of their logistics. Sarah has a BA in International Development.

Our Funding Partners

MDF works closely with funding partners to ensure our funding makes the greatest impact and protects the public's fundamental rights to freely express opinions, mobilize marginalized communities and promote equity for all. We welcome conversations with other funders interested in the digital rights space.