New grants will expand nonprofit local news across the Deep South, Delaware and New York State and will support the growth of local climate coverage
WASHINGTON – January 17, 2024 – The American Journalism Project today announced $5.4 million in new support for four nonprofit news organizations: Deep South Today, Grist, New York Focus and Spotlight Delaware. In addition to funding, the venture philanthropy will give the nonprofit news organizations strategic support to grow their revenue, strengthen their organizations, and expand their local reporting capacity.
Since its founding in 2019, AJP has committed $55.3 million to a portfolio of 44 grantee partners, including 40 established news organizations and four concepts under incubation. With these new grantees, AJP’s portfolio represents nearly 20 percent of the Institute for Nonprofit News members focused on local or statewide news.
“We are in the midst of a rebirth in local news across this country, driven by a new generation of local news innovators changing the way we sustain community journalism,” said Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project. “Each of these organizations have compelling visions for journalism that strengthens their communities. We’re thrilled to partner with them to help them build enduring organizations.”
The organizations receiving new funding have ambitious plans to grow original local reporting and expand their business and revenue operations. More details on each organization and how they will use this new support:
- Deep South Today ($2 million) to build business infrastructure that will support the growth of local newsrooms across the Deep South, bringing high-quality public service journalism to communities that are underserved. In 2022, Deep South Today was established as a network of newsrooms, including Mississippi Today, which serves the state of Mississippi, and Verite News, which is based in New Orleans. In 2019, AJP made a three-year, $1 million investment in Mississippi Today. In that time, the organization nearly doubled its annual revenue, built the largest newsroom in the state and produced noteworthy journalism, including its 2023 Pulitzer-prize winning Backchannel series.
- Grist ($925,000) to increase the volume of climate journalism in local communities. Grist will embed reporters within local news organizations, including several already in the American Journalism Project’s portfolio, combining its award-winning expertise in climate coverage with the deep connections of local newsrooms. This grant will help fund roles in development, strategy and operations, aimed at expanding Grist’s local partnerships and galvanizing climate-focused philanthropy to support local news. This grant builds on AJP’s targeted strategy to experiment with multilocal approaches that can enhance sustainable local journalism across the country.
- New York Focus ($1.5 million) to support the expansion of its statewide coverage on issues affecting New Yorkers, including politics, economic development, criminal justice, environmental policy, housing and health. Since its founding in 2020, New York Focus has already received attention for its high-quality, impact-driven reporting. This investment will enable New York Focus to expand its development, membership, events, communications, finance and operations capacity. In turn, New York Focus will expand its newsroom, including its Albany bureau, increase coverage around issue-specific beats, and place additional reporters across the state for regional reporting.
- Spotlight Delaware ($1 million) to launch a first-of-its-kind collaborative, community-powered nonprofit newsroom for the state. Spotlight Delaware will focus on how public policy affects the daily lives of Delawareans, particularly in underserved communities. Through this new partnership with AJP, Spotlight Delaware will build its founding business team, including its development, membership, and operations roles.
Beyond financial philanthropic investment, the American Journalism Project will provide each of these organizations with venture support, coaching, peer learning and capacity building. Over the three-year grant period, these local news organizations will be able to reinvest their increased revenue back into the newsroom to expand their ability to do more original reporting. AJP’s first cohort of grantees grew their combined revenue by $15 million over three years, resulting in a 4.9x return on AJP’s annual investment, and grew their news budgets by 66 percent.
Since 2019, the American Journalism Project has raised $168 million for local news, including nearly $60 million from local philanthropies to support local news initiatives in their markets. In 2023, AJP received several commitments of note, most recently $5 million from the Abrams Foundation, which represents a significant increase in their commitment. It also received $500,000 from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, which joined OpenAI’s $5 million commitment to enable the launch of AJP’s new Product & AI Studio.
Roshni Neslage, Head of Communications, American Journalism Project, email@example.com, 954-526-1565
About the American Journalism Project
The American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy dedicated to local news. We believe in civic journalism as a public good and are reimagining its future by building a model to finance and sustain the local news our democracy requires. We make grants to local nonprofit news organizations to build their revenue and business operations, partner with communities to launch new organizations, and mentor leaders as they grow and sustain their newsrooms. To learn more about the American Journalism Project, visit our website. To learn more about our grantees, visit our portfolio page.
About Deep South Today
Deep South Today is a nonprofit network of local newsrooms that includes Mississippi Today and Verite News. Founded in 2016, Mississippi Today is now one of the largest newsrooms in the state, and in 2023 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. Verite News launched in 2022 in New Orleans, where it covers inequities facing communities of color. With its regional scale and scope, Deep South Today is rebuilding and re-energizing local journalism in communities where it had previously eroded, and ensuring its long-term growth and sustainability.
Grist is an innovative nonprofit media organization focused on climate, justice, and solutions. Its agenda-setting journalism shines a light on scalable climate solutions, empowering readers to imagine a more equitable, livable future — and reshapes the broader media narrative on climate change.
About New York Focus
New York Focus is New York’s only statewide nonprofit newsroom. Launched in 2020, its journalism exposes how power works in the Empire State, holds decision-makers accountable, and gives citizens the tools they need to participate in their democracy. It fills a glaring gap: almost half of New York’s newspapers have died in the last two decades. Its stories have spurred legislation, lawsuits and hearings, shaped regulation, and driven national news cycles.
About Spotlight Delaware
Spotlight Delaware, a project of the Local Journalism Initiative, is a new collaborative nonprofit newsroom that will provide Delaware communities with free local news and information. Spotlight Delaware will focus on public policy and how it affects the daily lives of Delawareans throughout the state, with a particular emphasis on underserved and underrepresented communities.