Benetech®, the leading Silicon Valley technology development nonprofit, announced today that it has received a $250,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support the Martus™ Project, an innovative open source technology tool and support network assisting grassroots NGO workers worldwide to collect, safeguard and disseminate information on social justice violations.
The grant is intended to fund critical feature development, outreach and training initiatives to extend the Martus technology to work for individuals and groups operating in more tenuous security environments in social justice fields such as human rights. This project represents the first grant awarded to Benetech by the MacArthur Foundation.
“We are fortunate to have found in the MacArthur Foundation a funder that recognizes the inherent value of investing in a critical new form of resources for the social sector – developing and extending technology tools to empower those fighting for social justice,” stated Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. “Through this support, Martus will become relevant for a broader range of civil society actors, especially those valiantly working in regions under major security threats.”
Martus – Greek for witness – enables grassroots NGOs to securely document social justice violations and store their records on off-site servers with easy-to-use software, preserving crucial evidence for research, investigation and prosecutions. Since its launch in January 2003, Martus has garnered overwhelmingly positive reactions worldwide. In its first nine months of operations, Martus has been deployed, adopted and used regularly by NGOs in over ten countries, including Afghanistan, Guatemala, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States. There have also been over 400 unique Martus downloads from more than 40 countries representing Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The Benetech Initiative is a Silicon Valley nonprofit that develops sustainable, technology-based solutions to address pressing social challenges in areas such as disability, human rights, education and literacy. Many beneficial technologies have compelling social applications that are not developed because such efforts do not meet for-profit investors’ financial expectations. Benetech specifically pursues endeavors with a strong social, rather than financial, rate of return on investment, bringing commercial technology and private sector management techniques to bear in creating innovative, non-traditional solutions to challenging social issues. More information on Benetech and its projects can be found atbenetech.org or by calling (650) 475-5440.
About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with headquarters in Chicago, is a private, independent grant-making institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The Foundation makes grants through four programs. The Program on Human and Community Development supports organizations working primarily on national issues, including community development, regional policy, housing, public education, juvenile justice, and mental health policy. The Program on Global Security and Sustainability supports organizations engaged in international issues, including peace and security, conservation and sustainable development, population and reproductive health, and human rights. The General Program supports public interest media and the production of independent documentary films. The MacArthur Fellows Program awards five-year, unrestricted fellowships to individuals across all ages and fields who show exceptional merit and the promise of continued creative work. With assets of about $4 billion, the Foundation makes grants totaling approximately $170 million each year.
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