What we fund

The mission of the American Journalism Project is to reinvigorate local news through the power of venture philanthropy. We seek out social entrepreneurs who share our belief that local news is a public good and are leading civic news organizations positioned for growth.

What is a civic news organization? A civic news organization, or CNO, is a local news organization distinguished by its public service mission and commitment to meeting the information needs of the community — in areas such as government, environment, education, social and criminal justice, or public health. CNOs are supported by a mix of commercial media tactics and sophisticated charitable fundraising.

 

As we build our first portfolio of CNOs to receive investment and intensive support, our aim is to help catalyze transitions to multiple and sustainable revenue streams, while significantly growing local philanthropic support for news. We will primarily fund capacity for CNOs to generate new revenue — including salaries, technology and overhead costs.

 

We have a very strong preference toward nonprofit organizations.

Who we’re looking for

While we will consider diverse proposals from a wide range of organizations, we expect all grantees selected for our CNO portfolio to share these commitments:

Be mission-driven

Our goal is to catalyze the next generation of local public-service media. Our grantees’ top priority must be their public-service mission.

Offer a core product free to all

We believe the core product of public service journalism must be free to the public and abide by the highest standards of editorial independence.

Do high-quality local news

Local to us means CNOs at the state, city, or regional level that both operate in and serve the information needs of those markets or communities.

Have local financial backing

We expect organizations to have local philanthropic support and work with us to further grow that support. Startup CNOs should have at least two years of funding in place or committed. The American Journalism Project will not be the sole or majority funder.

Practice financial transparency

Public trust is earned through transparency. We will require that grantees disclose the sources of their funding, using a threshold of materiality.

Look like the public we serve

Diversity, equity and inclusion are core American Journalism Project values and our grantees must have or be building a culture in which these values are reflected throughout their operations.

Aspire to grow

Grantees must want to and be ready to significantly grow their revenue and programming in service to their mission.

Is the American Journalism Project a good fit?

Prospects for our portfolio of CNOs come from across the U.S. and are at different stages of organizational growth.

The rubric below describes what ‘strong,’ ‘moderate,’ and ‘weak’ readiness for American Journalism Project funding look like. We do not expect that CNOs start out ‘strong’ across every category, and encourage proposals from organizations that demonstrate strong overall readiness coupled with areas for growth.

AJP Criteria Rubric

Download the AJP Criteria Rubric PDF

Diversity, equity and inclusion

The American Journalism Project believes that every community deserves access to high quality local news.

We especially encourage inquiries from CNOs that are led by and serve traditionally underrepresented communities. We know there are great entrepreneurs and CNOs who won’t fit everything described above or who provide important public service to their communities that we have not considered.

Process

We expect to invite our first set of proposals from CNOs this summer and will release more information on our grantmaking process soon. We encourage you to think about opportunities to overcome hurdles that have stymied growth, expand into new markets, enable critical revenue opportunities to be filled, and catalyze growth.

Connect with us

We recognize the need for support for local news is larger than we alone can fulfill and will be working with partners across the field to support our grantees and the broader field of nonprofit news. We will learn along the way and alongside our grantees and partners.

If you’ve read our eligibility requirements and selection criteria and think that you may be ready for a conversation with our team, please complete the brief questionnaire below. We review every inquiry and will contact you if we are interested in learning more about your organization.

Get in touch.