Public Square

Transforming Media to Build Community Power

Reliable information is what fuels our lives — who is on the ballot, what’s happening in our schools, where to find vaccines, and how to make change in our neighborhoods. But it is getting harder to find information we can trust, which leads to less informed voters and greater threats to democracy.

We’re committed to ensuring communities have access to the information they need online and offline. To do this, we invest in organizations and leaders who believe in the power of accurate and accessible information as a force for justice and democracy.


Meeting the Moment

We are facing an information crisis. Local newsrooms are closing, disinformation is fueling hate and racism, and social media platforms are allowing this disinformation to spread.

We know that to advance progress toward an inclusive, multiracial democracy, communities need equitable access to information. Whether they’re fighting climate change or protecting voting rights, information is key. That’s why local news organizations around the United States are finding innovative ways to make their reporting accessible, even as budgets shrink and tech platforms pose information threats. They’re doing things like answering community questions via text or working together to investigate local officials.

The goal is no longer just to share information. It’s to build power so communities can decide their own futures.

We also need to challenge tech platforms and fight for better online spaces. We know that technology can be a force for good. But we need to address how tech platforms are using our own data against us to spread hate and misinformation. Powerful movements for change – especially those led by people of color – are happening online, and we cannot allow tech platforms to slow this progress.

Our Approach

Public Square strategies seek to ensure every community in the United States has access to accurate information that encourages healthy, informed, and engaged lives. When people have the information they need to thrive, they are more likely to participate in and protect our democracy.

Digital Democracy

We need new rules of the road for the technology that shapes our daily lives, our public square, and our democracy. We must hold social media companies accountable for the way their tools are used to spread hate, misinformation, and voter suppression.

We support leaders of color and movements who are organizing for more just and equitable technology and media policy.


See how we invest our resources

Equitable Journalism

By transforming who owns and leads local news organizations, we can increase news and information access in communities nationwide. As a result, all people can see themselves reflected in the public square.

We invest in equitable news ecosystems that serve communities of color across the country.



Learn more about the future of journalism

Our Team

Josh Stearns

Senior Director, Public Square


Paul Waters

Director, Digital Democracy


Angelica Das

Associate Director, Public Square


Teresa Gorman

Associate Director, Public Square


Haneen Abu Al Neel

Program Associate, Digital Democracy


Jenn Roche

Senior Associate, Program Strategy and Learning, Movements and Media


Christine Schmidt

Senior Program Associate, Public Square


Erin Shields

Senior Program Associate, Digital Democracy


Lea Trusty

Senior Program Associate, Public Square


Shape the Future of Media

Democracy Fund collaborates with donors and peer foundations on a set of strategic investments that are strengthening the quality and availability of journalism across the U.S. Each addresses an area of need that is significant in its scope and importance — and where collective insights and investments are imperative. These challenges are large and interconnected. No single individual or organization can or should do this work alone.

Explore journalism joint fund opportunities

Making Nonprofit News Sustainable

NewsMatch is a national matching funds campaign that drives dollars to support local and investigative reporting, build the long-term sustainability of nonprofit news, and raise awareness about journalism’s role in America. Since 2016, NewsMatch has helped nonprofit news organizations raise nearly $100 million in unrestricted funding, which they invest in more and better journalism, crucial operations, and improved fundraising capabilities. NewsMatch pairs matching funds with 500+ hours of training and capacity building that equips journalists with the skills they need to build sustainable, long-term relationships with the communities they serve.

Learn more about this effort

Democracy Fund Editorial Firewall Policy

We adhere to a strict policy preserving the editorial independence of all our journalism grantees. In the instance of a grantee approaching a member of our staff for comment, we require them to go through our communications team — not a program officer — and we alert the reporter of the funding relationship. We also request that if they quote a member of our team they disclose our funding of their organization in any story produced.

In addition, the Democracy Fund communications staff does not send pitches to the nonprofit newsrooms we support, and we include language in our grant agreements that we won’t discuss editorial content with journalism grantees or otherwise seek to influence their coverage. However, we may alert newsroom leadership of Democracy Fund developments and news in the course of regular engagement with grantees.

Other Areas of Focus

Democracy Fund strengthens and defends democracy through four core programs.

See more of what we do

Elections and Voting

Since its founding, the American voting system has intentionally made it difficult for marginalized communities to equitably participate. The Elections and Voting program works with community organizations and leaders to build a voting system that is fair, trustworthy, and inclusive, with racial justice at the center.

Learn more about this work


American democracy is under threat, and we must protect it, or the harm will be irreparable and generational. The Governance program aims to stop the spread of authoritarianism and government abuses by strengthening infrastructure at the local, state, and federal levels. 

Learn more about this work

Just and Inclusive Society

Political and climate crises are forcing people to relocate, with communities of color disproportionately affected. The Just and Inclusive Society program works to ensure migrant and refugee communities in the United States have the resources to build and lead an intersectional social movement that protects their rights and addresses global threats.

Learn more about this work
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