Washington, DC (May 12, 2016) – Next Century Cities announced today that its award for cities using high-speed broadband to bolster democratic participation will be named in honor of the late Charles Benton, a pioneer in using the latest communications tools to empower people and improve lives.

The Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Award will recognize municipal governments harnessing high-speed Internet to enhance civic engagement, awarding at least three communities up to $30,000 and offering hands-on technical assistance for their innovative projects. The award was initially announced at the Broadband Communities Summit last month and more information can be found here.

“My father spent his life working to empower people to be engaged and involved in their communities through improved communication. The Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Award honors his legacy by celebrating how innovations in technology and high-quality Internet access can allow citizens to be better informed and more involved in civic life,” said Adrianne Benton Furniss, Executive Director of the Benton Foundation.

“Charles Benton, founder of the Benton Foundation, was a devoted philanthropist and visionary who believed in the importance of civic engagement and the power of new communications tools to improve people’s lives,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “Next Century Cities is pleased to celebrate his memory with this new award that aligns so closely with his ideals and life’s work.”

The inaugural Benton Award winners will be announced in August, with applications due June 15, 2016. The award program will elevate the wide array of creative innovations for using next-generation broadband to bolster civic engagement and encourage replication of these projects nationwide. The Benton Award is being primarily supported by the Democracy Fund, with additional support from the Benton Foundation.