The American Journalism Project, a nonpartisan venture philanthropy organization focused on strengthening local news coverage, has announced inaugural grants totaling $8.5 million to eleven civic news organizations (CNOs).
The grants will support efforts to strengthen grantees' business, technology, and fundraising capacity. Recipients include Berkeleyside (East Bay, California); Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (San Juan, Puerto Rico); City Bureau (Chicago); CT Mirror (Hartford); inewsource (San Diego); Mississippi Today (Ridgeland, Mississippi); MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (Memphis, Tennessee); NOISE (Omaha, Nebraska); Underscore (Portland, Oregon); WyoFile (Lander, Wyoming); and VTDigger (Montpelier, Vermont).
AJP also announced a new commitment from the Democracy Fund, boosting that organization's support of AJP to more than $46 million since 2018, and noted that it is joining the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, a new donor collaborative based at Borealis Philanthropy that seeks to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of news organizations led by people of color and increase civic engagement within communities of color.
"What distinguishes these CNOs is strong, entrepreneurial leadership and community buy-in," said Elizabeth Green, Chalkbeat CEO/editor-in-chief and co-founder/board chair of AJP. "They are eager to take on the challenge of creative new business models for local news, but what's been missing until now is the philanthropic capital to support them."
"While the commercial local news business gets nothing but worse, the number of nonprofit local news organizations has exploded over the last decade," said John Thornton, AJP co-founder and founder of the Texas Tribune. "And like it or not, sustained philanthropy is the key ingredient. As philanthropists, we must act urgently to give these organizations, which are fundamentally civic rather than commercial in nature, the time, talent, and tools they need to be financially sustainable."
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