The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving and advancing local journalism nationwide. The institute was founded in 2016 by cable television entrepreneur H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who also donated ownership of the Philadelphia Media Network to the institute.
The institute is inviting applications for up to $1 million in grants for new approaches to sustaining local journalism in Philadelphia and similar metro regions around the U.S and will offer two kinds of grants:
1) Experimentation Grants: Grants of up to $35,000 will be awarded to help seed new projects just getting off the ground and for which the applicant has initial evidence of a user need. A product or working demo doesn't necessarily have to be built yet, but the applicant should have a specific and actionable idea for a novel product or service.
2): Amplification Grants: Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to help existing projects scale and reach the next level. Amplification Grants are meant for products or services that have already shown initial traction, and for applicants who are looking to scale their product to achieve broader impact. These grants could be made together with other partners, including conventional investors taking equity in a company.
The program is focused on five priority areas: new approaches to collecting news and information, and to reporting, storytelling and distribution that embrace the potential of technology, expand audiences, deepen relationships with existing readers, and ultimately lead to business sustainability; meaningful approaches to reaching and empowering people in diverse local communities who are generally underserved by mainstream news media; new business models for local news and information products that can assure their own sustainability; new methods to engage deeply with the local community, whether in-person or digitally; and bringing together existing and new players in novel ways to fuel new forms of media, cost-efficiency, impact, and sustainability.
Applicants interested in using the Philadelphia metro area as a test market are especially encouraged to apply and will be offered the opportunity to work with and leverage the resources and reach of the Philadelphia Media Network and other local partners. The institute is also strongly interested in applicants from major metro areas across the United States for projects which could be applied to Philadelphia and scaled to similar metro areas.
See the Lenfest Institute website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.