The program

As a part of the partnership announced in March 2020, the International Fact-Checking Network and WhatsApp have launched the Vaccine Grant Program.

This initiative aims to provide fact-checking organizations with resources to build, develop, and/or improve their existing efforts to tackle health related mis/disinformation.

In this call – open to IFCN’s verified signatories and partners of the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance – the goal is to support projects focused on increasing the distribution speed and capacity of fact checks to tackle COVID-19 and vaccine-related mis/disinformation.

Participants can submit one proposal and request up to $100,000. The program is committed to distributing a total of $500,000 among its grantees.

Four areas will be covered by this grant opportunity – and applicants must choose which one they fit in:

  • Editorial project
  • Messaging technology
  • Media literacy project
  • New format / distribution project

Due to the urgency in addressing health-related misinformation, all grantees are expected to launch their projects no later than May 31, 2021.

International Fact-checking Network at Poynter

Key Dates:

March 22, 2021: Applications close

April 26, 2021: Recipients announced

Recipients have six months to develop their projects

Eligibility requirements

Fact-checking organizations that are verified signatories of the IFCN’s Code of Principles and/or organizations that are members of the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance are eligible to apply.

Applicants agree that if they are awarded a grant, the IFCN and WhatsApp may use data and information they provide in the initial application and subsequent reporting form with other fact-checking organizations.

Each applicant/organization may only submit one application and a budget of up to $100,000.

What are we looking for in applications?

  • This grant is for the verified signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network and partners of its CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.
  • This grant will support projects aiming to provide the public with accurate and authoritative information about COVID-19 and the vaccination efforts.
  • Fact-checking organizations are allowed to partner with other organizations, but each organization can only apply once, with one project.
  • Projects must be launched no later than May 2020 and should take no more than six months to be completed.
  • Applicants will have to choose in which category their projects fit:
    • Editorial: Projects related to producing content to inform the public on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts (fact checks, explainers, translations, etc.)
    • Technology: Projects based on/or developing/using programming languages, APIs and applications to increase the effectiveness of fact-checking distribution
    • Media literacy: Projects related to strengthening media literacy and increasing the circulating of authoritative information, especially among communities vulnerable to COVID-19
    • Reach: Projects that are not centered around technology, but aiming to improve distribution by using promotion or partnerships to distribute accurate information on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts to the public.

Examples of applicants/projects that would not qualify:

  • Applications made by organizations that aren’t part of the IFCN’s signatories list or the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance
  • Applications that aim to bring together different partners, but fail to provide agreement letters, fully signed by all partners, before announced by IFCN as a recipient.
  • Applicants with financial ties to producers of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Projects aiming to exclusively grow social media reach through paid ads
  • Projects that will exclusively cover existing or incremental staffing costs
  • Research can be a component of eligible projects but not its primary goal
  • Projects that are run by a government institution; public health experts with ties to government institutions can be part of the project team but not the lead applicants
  • Projects aiming to develop/launch new chatbots on messaging apps. Projects focused on improving existing ones will be considered as eligible applications.

Selection criteria

There will be two rounds of proposal analysis in this grant:

1st round: From March 22nd to April 1st.

Once the application process has been closed on the application platform, the International Fact-Checking Network will review each proposal and eliminate those that do not qualify (please see “What are we looking for in application” section). A shortlist of projects will be sent to the selection committee.

After the eligibility filtering, all applications will be subjected to evaluation based on the following questions:

  • Is the budget in accordance with the project’s scope?
  • Does the project offer a way to measure its impact?
  • Is the project replicable in other countries or settings?
  • Can the project start by May 31st?
  • Is the project applicable to other topics beyond the scope of vaccine misinformation?

The applications meeting at least 4 out of these 5 criteria will be shared with the selection committee.

2nd round: From April 2nd to April 16th

Jury members will analyze each shortlisted proposal. The selection committee is expected to grade projects from 1 to 3 (being 3 the highest score) according the following criteria:

  • Does this project have the potential to reduce rates of vaccine hesitancy among high-risk groups?
  • Can this project improve the quality of the public debate on COVID-19 and the vaccination efforts?
  • Is this project reaching a wider/new/disadvantaged audience impacted by the pandemic?
  • Does this project have the potential to grow in the future?
  • Does this project have the potential to be replicated by other fact-checkers with minor changes?
  • Is the requested budget in accordance with the goals and scope of this project?
  • Does this project have the potential to be fully completed and implemented in time and form?
  • How original is this idea?

Important observations: If a proposed project somehow relates to any of the selection committee members or to their past or current work, those selection committee members will not participate in that specific evaluation and his/her score will be calculated based on the average of other selection committee members. Jury members don’t get paid for this work.

Terms and conditions

    1. All grantees will have six months after being selected to complete the projects funded by this grant.
    2. All grantees as expected to work with the International Fact-Checking Network and WhatsApp to promote their projects
    3. Each grant recipient must provide IFCN with two short narrative reports and two financial reports: one of each at the midpoint of the project (July, 2021) and one of each after the end of the 6-month project term (November, 2021).
    4. The awarded amount will be delivered to the applicable grant recipient in two different payments: 50% at the beginning of the project term and the remaining 50% after the midterm narrative and financial reports are approved. (If your project requires a different distribution, please inform.)
    5. Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Inc. and WhatsApp (directly and/or through a third party (e.g., Submittable) may collect personally identifiable information to perform certain compliance checks and sanctions screenings

Selection committee

Adriana Barsotti

Adriana Barsotti
Professor and director
Universidade Federal Fluminense / Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Brazil)

About Adriana Barsotti

Adriana is a journalist who has worked at some of most recognized media outlets in Brazil: O Estado de S.Paulo, IstoÉ and O Globo. Adriana has won an Esso Prize covering “The secret story of Araguaia’s guerrilla”. Working for Project #Colabora, Adriana won Vladimir Herzog Award in 2019, with a multimedia series called “Without Rights: what excluded ones look like in Brazil”. Adriana is an associate professor at the Social Communication and Arts Institute, at Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), has written two books and is part of the editorial oversight board at Agência Lupa.

Ben Supple
Head of Civic Engagement
WhatsApp Partnerships (USA)

About Ben Supple

As Head of Civic Engagement, Ben Supple leads strategic partnerships with governments, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), NGOs and publishers/fact checkers who seek to use WhatsApp’s business products (the Business API and Business App) to engage with citizens across WhatsApp’s 2B+ user base. Ben also leads the company’s partnerships efforts on major civic campaigns, ranging from COVID-19 vaccine response to high-priority elections around the world.

Ferdi Ozsoy
Program Manager

About Ferdi Ozsoy

Ferdi Ferhat Özsoy is the Program Manager of International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at The Poynter Institute, the premier global coalition of fact-checking organizations. Before joining IFCN he Co-Founded Turkey’s first and only Political Fact-Checking Doğruluk Payı (Share of Truth) in 2014 along with Turkey’s open data platform Veri Kaynagi (Data Source). Another project he ran while in Turkey was W.A.I.T. where he interviewed 120 Syrians living in Turkey to share their life stories with the public to fight the growing misinformation and xenophobia against Syrians living in Turkey. Ferdi holds a dual degree in history and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College and an M.A. in International Relations from Istanbul Bilgi University.


Ifeoma Theresa Amobi
Senior Lecturer
University of Lagos (Nigeria)

About Ifeoma Theresa Amobi

Dr. Theresa Ifeoma Amobi has a PhD in Health Communication, Master of Science degree in Mass Communication, Master’s degree in Public Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Nigeria, where she teaches Multimedia and Online Journalism, Broadcasting and Film, International Communication, Social Science Research and Theories of Communication. She also teaches Health Communication at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Dr. Amobi also teaches Consumer Behaviour and Social Science Research at the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria, where she is an adjunct Lecturer. Her research interests include Health Mis/Disinformation and Conspiracy theories, Media and Gender, Nollywood Film Industry, International Communication, among others. She is a member of the Advisory Board of Africa Check, Fullfact and Chequeado; an Independent Researcher for Africa Check and other international agencies; and a member of Jury of the Google News Initiative (GNI) COVID-19 Misinformation Open Fund. She has also been a member of the African Movies Academy Awards (AMAA) College of Screeners since 2014, and a member of the Board of Unilag Multimedia Ventures, overseeing Unilag Television, Radio Unilag 101.3 FM, and A. Y. Ekeh Printing Press, of the University of Lagos.

Kanchan Kaur

Kanchan Kaur
Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (India)

About Kanchan Kaur

Kanchan Kaur is Dean, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM), Bangalore. She is also an India assessor for the International Fact-Checking Network which certifies fact-checking websites. She started her career in journalism by reporting the city of Bangalore for various small newspapers before moving on to the bigger ones like Indian Express, Deccan Herald and The Gulf News. She has driven IIJNM’s emphasis on Multimedia following a stint at the University of Florida’s Institute on Teaching Digital Journalism. .



Since 2013 she has been involved in and has been working on spreading news literacy. She has attended and spoken at news literacy and fact checking conferences across the world. She is the first India assessor of fact checking websites for the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) and has assessed more than a dozen websites since. She is happiest when she can convince people they ought to fact check everything that comes their way.

Laurens Lauer
Research Associate, PhD
University Duisburg-Essen (Germany)

About Laurens Lauer

I am a research associate at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and a member of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany. My professional focus is on global and comparative studies of new media phenomena and their embeddedness in diverse societal environments and media systems. I have done extensive research on political fact-checking, covering both fact-checking initiatives in various countries and the community of fact-checkers on a global scale. In particular, my dissertation explored different forms and logics of political fact-checking initiatives in Argentina, Georgia, Italy, and the United States in connection with relevant political and media characteristics of their respective contexts.

Ramón Salaverría

Ramon Salaverría
Associate Dean of Research
Universidad de Navarra (Spain)

About Ramón Salaverría

Ramón Salaverría, Phd, is Full Professor of Journalism and Associate Dean of Research at the School of Communication, University of Navarra. His research focuses on digital journalism and new media. Among other national and European research projects, he is now leading RRSSalud, a joint project together with Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which is exploring the dynamics of disinformation on health news in social media.


He has been a visiting researcher at the Digital Media Research Program in the University of Texas at Austin (USA), as well as visiting professor at a dozen universities in several countries. At international level, he has been chair of the Journalism Studies Section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association) and a member of the World Journalism Education Council. He has been invited to deliver courses, seminars and conferences in more than 30 countries.


Author of more than 250 scholarly publications, he has published, among others, the books ‘Journalism, Data and Technology in Latin America’ (2021), ‘Ciberperiodismo en Iberoamérica’ (2016), ‘Periodismo integrado’ (2008). His research has been published in top-ranked international scientific journals on communication and journalism.


As a specialist in digital media, the United Nations (UN) included him in its Global Experts directory. Likewise, the newspaper ‘El Mundo’ has highlighted him on several occasions in the ranking of ‘The 500 most influential Spaniards’, as an Internet expert.