Where can you find funding for that local journalism project? Here’s a quick guide
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After a series on parental incarceration, Jonathan Bullington and Richard Webster got an email with an idea — apply for a fellowship that supports that kind of reporting.
The NOLA.com | Times-Picayune reporters started thinking about what they’d cover. Their idea – what does exposure to violence do to kids? They pitched it to The Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and got $5,000.
The two rented an office space in a community center in New Orleans’ Central City. They found a football team of 9-and 10-year-old boys, and through their series, “The Children of Central City,” told both big and small stories of childhood trauma and the science behind what it does. You can read more about that project and its impact here.
Bullington isn’t sure what the project would have looked like without the fellowships. He thinks a lot of it would have been the same, but that some of the ideas they had, like embedding in the community, might have stayed in the wishlist column, too.
This was the first fellowship he’s been awarded, though he applied for one other. He’s known about fellowships and grants for journalism. He’s known people who have gotten them.
Now that he’s one of them, here’s his advice: “Just apply,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt to try.”
But before you get started, there are some great guides out there already to help your team think about how to approach funders. Check out these ideas and tips from the Shorenstein Center and Media Impact Funders, the American Press Institute, Democracy Fund’s Local News Lab, Let’s Gather and Better News.
This list was created with suggestions from Democracy Fund’s Teresa Gorman, the Institute for Nonprofit News’ Sue Cross, Stefanie Murray from the Center for Cooperative Media and Local Independent Online News Publisher’s Matt DeRienzo. There are also several other lists which went into building this list, and since this one is tailored for local journalists and newsrooms, there are way more funders out there than I listed and you should check them out. While you’re at it, here’s a handy map for foundation funding.
Update: I've changed this list by dividing it into two categories, (thanks to Molly de Aguiar for the smart suggestion.) Below, you'll find one group of fellowships and grants for reporting projects, and another for tackling bigger industry issues.
Association of Health Care Journalists: The Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance come with a project allowance of $4,000 and $2,500 for completing a project.
CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Urban Reporting Grants Program: Up to six grants are awarded each year from $5,000 to $15,000 “to assist in the reporting and writing of investigative stories that take aim at important social, political or economic problems in the New York metropolitan area.”
Education Week Gregory M. Chronister Journalism Fellowship: This annual fellowship comes with up to $10,000.
Ethics and Excellence Journalism Foundation: EEJF offers several grants, including for investigative reporting and for journalists in Oklahoma. Applications are accepted twice a year.
Fund for Environmental Journalism: This offers up to $5,000 for environmental coverage.
Fund for Investigative Journalism: FIJ offers grants of up to $10,000 and mentorship.
The Hatch Institute: "We fund investigative stories that give voice to the voiceless and hold power to account."
Institute for Journalism and National Resources’ Field Reporting awards: These grants “help defray the costs of reporting projects that focus on natural resources, the environment, energy, development, agriculture, environmental justice, and public health.”
Investigative Reporters and Editor’s Freelance Fellowships: This gives $1,000 or more to freelancers working on investigative projects.
NYU Journalism’s The Reporting Award: This offers up to $12,500 for work “in any medium on significant underreported subjects in the public interest.”
Solutions Journalism Network’s Freelance Fund: For journalists already in The Hub, its online network, these are small travel grants of up to $750.
USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism: This program offers several opportunities for local reporters, including The Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism with a grant of up to $10,000, the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being with up to $10,000 and the Community Engagement Fund with up to $2,500 for engagement projects.
Bigger industry issues:
Investigative Fund: Apply with “highly original reporting on important stories with the potential to have social impact. We commission investigative reporting for print, online or broadcast journalism outlets.” Funding is $3,500 to $10,000. The Wayne Barrett Project seeks work that covers “politics and corruption in both New York City and on the national stage.” Funding ranges from $5,000 to $15,000. The Ida B. Wells Fellowship comes with $12,000 and is for journalists of color and “other reporters who believe their presence would contribute substantially to diversifying investigative reporting in other ways.” The H.D. Lloyd Fund for Investigative Journalism grants money to four stories every year with work that “will penetrate that secrecy and inform the public of unreported aspects of news and events affecting their lives.”
International Women’s Media Foundation: IWMF’s Reporting Grants for Women’s Stories offers up to $5,000 and the Fund for Women Journalists, which looks for “underreported stories of global importance,” offers around $10,000.
The Knight Foundation: Knight funds several areas of journalism, including local news and innovations in technology. Apply for funding by sending a letter of inquiry or look for opportunities through the Knight News Challenge, the Knight Enterprise Fund and the Knight Prototype Fund. (Disclosure: My position is partially covered by a grant from Knight.)
MacArthur Foundation: Supported work includes nonprofit reporting.
News Integrity Initiative: Funding areas include building “enduring trust and mutual respect between newsrooms and the public through sustained listening, collaboration, and transparency.”
Rita Allen Foundation: Currently, the foundation is focusing on “Investing in young leaders in science and social innovation and promoting civic literacy and engagement.” It also accepts unsolicited inquiries twice a year.
Reva and David Logan Foundation: This organization’s grantmaking includes nonprofit investigative work.
Phew! That’s a lot of opportunities right there. Please send any I missed, I’m happy to add them. Next week, we’re starting a new conversation with profiles of journalists who’ve started their own newsrooms.
Until then, take a break from all this talk of foundation funding and check out how this one-woman weekly in California keeps the lights on. And you still have time to sign up for this Webinar, hosted by me, on how local and national journalists can work together to cover breaking news.
See you next week!