The Sunlight Foundation today announced an investment of $2 million from Omidyar Network, a mission-based organization established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam.
The investment will allow Sunlight to increase the number of grants it gives to organizations that use the Internet and related technology to create more transparency in Congress. Sunlight focuses on expanding online access to information about the workings of Congress and the influence of money in politics, and enhancing that access with cutting-edge tools that will enable journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens to oversee and engage in what Congress is doing.
"We are pleased to support the Sunlight Foundation's efforts to bring about a more open, effective and accountable political system," said Erin Mohr, manager of special projects at Omidyar Network. "Both Sunlight and Omidyar Network share strong beliefs in the value of transparency, the potential for new technologies to connect individuals to both information and others who share their interests, and the ability for citizens to influence the issues that impact their lives."
“All of Sunlight’s work is premised on using the Internet to make Congress more open and accountable to the public, said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “Omidyar Network’s investment will enable Sunlight and its affiliated groups to accelerate its efforts to bring our government into the Twenty-First Century, and make it more transparent.”
To date, the Sunlight Foundation has awarded 16 grants, totaling $1.6 million, to create new online databases on congressional finances, travel, and employment; lobbying; federal spending and grant making; to build new sites for collecting and sharing critical information on Congress; to support experiments in citizen-driven journalism; and to develop new tools for bloggers, journalists and other citizen watchdogs.
Through its internal development arm, Sunlight Labs, the Sunlight Foundation has also developed new open source software tools and widgets to help people track and share information on Congress’s doings. For example, in the fall of 2006, the Sunlight Labs created a “mash up” that allowed citizens to see geographically where earmarks were going by plotting them on a Google map. Sunlight Labs has also developed a widget called “PopUp Politicians” – a simple line of code that launches a pop-up bubble with links to additional information, when a user rolls his or her mouse over a Congress member’s name.
Founded in January, 2006, the mission of the Sunlight Foundation is to strengthen the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. Sunlight puts information and tools in citizens’ hands so they can learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing. Our ultimate goal of full transparency by Congress, its Members and staff will help reduce corruption, ensure greater accountability, and foster public trust in this vital institution of democracy.
Omidyar Network is a mission-based organization committed to fostering individual self-empowerment on a global scale. Established in 2004 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, the organization is founded on the simple core belief that every individual has the power to make a difference. Omidyar Network funds for-profits and nonprofits that promote equal access to information, tools and opportunities; connections around shared interests; and a sense of ownership for participants.