Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Democracy Fund

Knight First Amendment Institute

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University works to defend and strengthen the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Its aim is to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.

Why We Invested

Established in 2016 by Columbia University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight First Amendment Institute defends the freedoms of speech and of the press at a moment when our democracy is under extraordinary stress. The privatization of the public square, the emergence of new technologies of disinformation and suppression, the draconian treatment of whistleblowers, the demonization of the media—all of these raise complex and urgent questions relating to the substance and strength of First Amendment freedoms.

Under the leadership of Jameel Jaffer, formerly of the ACLU, the Institute seeks to address 21st century challenges and develop 21st century approaches to the First Amendment, with a current concentration on strengthening legal frameworks for government transparency, reviving the First Amendment as a constraint on government surveillance, and protecting the integrity and vitality of public discourse. In the past year, the Institute has developed a cutting-edge litigation docket, launched an innovative research program, and hosted public programs that have featured some of the most provocative and insightful thinkers at the intersection of law, journalism, and technology. The Institute has also received support from Laura and John Arnold, Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, as well as from Columbia University.

How to Get Involved

  1. Learn how you can support the Knight First Amendment Institute here.
  2. Want to get regular updates on the Institute? Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or sign up for Knight Institute news.

Total Commitment

2017: Up to $3,250,000 from the Democracy Fund and First Look Media over 5 years.