The American Journalism Project began making grants to local news organizations in 2019, focusing our investments on business and operational capacity so that nonprofit local news organizations can build sustainable and scalable models to serve communities. The project has invested in 20 tremendous local news organizations that represent a wide cross section of demographics. AJP is committed to supporting a portfolio of grantees that looks like the public it serves; our portfolio’s leadership is 55% people of color and 65% women. Grantees are diverse in model, geography and communities served, and between them they represent a variety of approaches to addressing the growing needs of our country. You can read more about the current grantees here.
AJP believes that as the commercial local news sector rapidly declines, nonprofit news will have to scale to meet the growing need for original local reporting and to rebuild a local news ecosystem that is more equitable, diverse and driven by communities’ information needs. AJP therefore is prioritizing providing growth capital to organizations with a viable plan to dramatically increase the scale of their organizations in pursuit of meeting these needs.
Organizations seeking grants must have a track record of being driven by meeting their communities’ information needs, and they must have the vision and ambition to grow significantly to become a primary source of local original reporting for their communities. AJP recognizes that what “primary source” means will vary depending on the local news ecosystem; it can be a collaborative vision, and it must ultimately be rooted in growing to meet the currently unmet critical information needs of the diverse communities in the geographies served. It is currently prioritizing organizations serving or seeking to serve regions that are either an entire state or a large population area.
AJP is also inviting letters of inquiry this quarter from national, topical and regional (extending beyond one state) nonprofit news organizations that are planning to grow their investments in original local journalism and demonstrate a clear commitment to serving local audiences. AJP will support organizations that have credible paths to unlocking new, incremental funding sources for local news and will grow their local news strategies across numerous geographies.
Please take a look at the rubric, which outlines seven additional areas for organizations to strengthen in partnership with AJP. AJP does not expect organizations to be strong across all rubric criteria, but does expect them to have a compelling track record and demonstrate a commitment toward strengthening each area outlined.
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