Media Democracy Fund manages two different programs that match technologists with social justice organizations: the Technology Exchange Matching Fund and the PhDX Fellowship Program.
Ford/MDF Technology Exchange Matching Fund
Launched in 2015, the Ford/MDF Technology Exchange Matching Fund (TX) creates opportunities for emerging technology leaders around the world to gain experience working with civil society organizations on public interest tech issues.
Supplemented by a matching grant from Ford/MDF, each selected host site creates a full-time staff position that lasts at least 12 months and provides participants with a salary, benefits, and professional development opportunities. We hope that, in some cases, these will become permanent staff positions.
The TX staffers work on a range of substantive projects at the leading edge of technology, policy, and social justice. Some examples include:
While TX staffers and host site supervisors organize the projects independently, MDF supports the Tech Exchange cohort through monthly conference calls and a dedicated staffer-only Slack channel. TX staffers use these networks to talk about their projects, solicit ideas, arrange meetings with each other, promote events and post job listings. MDF also organizes in-person convenings at at least one internet freedom-related conference a year, giving TX staffers a chance to meet each other face to face. Other opportunities to connect and convene TX staff with other PIT Fellows are pursued throughout the year, as funding and staff availability permit.
2021-2022 host sites
2019-2021 host sites (extended for 12 months because of COVID-19)
2018-19 host sites
2017-18 host sites
2016-17 host sites
2015-16 host sites
Does your organization want to apply to be a host site?
In June, MDF invites about 20 organizations to submit letters of interest for 10 host site spots for the next cohort. MDF selects host sites in August/September, and the organizations search for applicants in November/December. Most staffers begin their year-long positions between December and January of any given year.
Contact Media Democracy Fund to learn more about the host site selection process.
PhDX: Talent for the 21st Century
In 2017, Media Democracy Fund launched a pilot for PhDX, a fellowship program designed to pair graduate or PhD level university students with a background in technology with DC-based public interest technology policy organizations for an immersive fellowship experience over two consecutive summers. This pilot project was made possible with support from Open Society Foundations as part of the NetGain initiative.
Through this program, the students enrich their graduate level computer science and tech policy interests by learning from and contributing to organizations working on the front lines of technology, policy and social justice.