We are mobilizing a movement to support the local press our democracy deserves.

Market forces are failing local news, and as a result our democracy is at risk. The mission of the American Journalism Project is grounded in our understanding of the severity, urgency, and scope of the crisis at hand.

At the center of this storm is the economic crisis faced by newspapers, which have lost roughly half their revenue since the Great Recession. There is no American industry of such combined size and civic importance that has endured such an economically devastating decade.

With support from Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund, AJP is a new effort to reinvigorate local news through the power of venture philanthropy. It was co-founded by local news entrepreneurs — Elizabeth Green (Chalkbeat) and John Thornton (Texas Tribune) — to capitalize on the lessons they have learned and convictions they have developed over the past decade.


In other social sectors, philanthropists have used venture philanthropy to create new ecosystems of strong, sustainable, and scaled organizations that fill gaps left by the market. AJP will be the first venture philanthropy firm with a mission of building an ecosystem of “social enterprises” for news.

“What is clear is that a key plank in the platform of civics has given way, and the support it provided can no longer be taken for granted.”

Funding the News:
Foundations and Nonprofit Media

AJP will have three core functions

The American Journalism Project will be the first venture philanthropy organization dedicated to local news. We will make direct grants to an ecosystem of news organizations that believe access to civic information is a public service in and of itself.


We are raising support to create the Vanguard Local News Fund I, which we will use to make course-altering grants to a set of enterprising local news organizations. Our supporters will be at the forefront of philanthropic leadership by adopting a national perspective on a local problem.

Intensive Support

AJP will add transformational value to our member organizations by bringing expertise from commercial media, established nonprofits, and venture-backed startups. Ours will be a data-driven culture, accelerating the adoption of best practices from across the news and nonprofit landscapes.


Our long-term goal is to catalyze an incremental $1 billion in annual financial support for independent local news. The organizations AJP supports will pioneer this new economic model: sophisticated commercial media strategy and tactics supported by a step-function increase in journalism philanthropy.

Meet the AJP founders

Elizabeth Green

Co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, the nonprofit news organization dedicated to telling the story of education in America, one community at a time. Founded in 2014, Chalkbeat is now one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit news organizations, with reporters in seven locations. Elizabeth is also the author of Building a Better Teacher, the New York Times Book Review notable book of 2014 and bestseller.

John Thornton

Venture capitalist at Austin Ventures since 1990, where he has co-led the technology practice for more than two decades. He also co-founded venture capital firm Elsewhere Partners in 2017. In 2008, John founded the Texas Tribune, the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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