How our venture philanthropy is impacting local news

At the American Journalism Project, we believe the future of local news is nonprofit.

Our mission is to accelerate the scale, growth and impact of nonprofit news and place the sector on the path to rebuild the core civic infrastructure of local journalism that powers democracy.

Today, we are excited to share the first comprehensive look at our progress toward those goals.

Our 2022 Impact Report distills early learnings from across our work since our launch in 2019, including galvanizing nearly $90 million for local news in partnership with national and local philanthropy, a portfolio of 32 grantees representing a wide range of models, four new newsrooms launched and a local philanthropic partnerships program building new newsrooms in collaboration with local coalitions in Ohio and Houston.

In many ways, this is just the beginning. About half our grantees are still in the first year of their grants. Much of our grant dollars go to the creation of new business and revenue roles and half of the roles are filled; the rest will be hired over the next 12-18 months. But even looking at these early results, we are incredibly proud of this work and optimistic about the direction we’re going. Here is our impact by the numbers:

  • American Journalism Project grantees grow by an average of 67 percent in Year One of their grant and are projecting to double their revenue by Year Three.
  • Grantees in our portfolio for at least one year are on track toward a 5x return on investment.
  • 100 percent of grantees say they are better positioned to grow than before they received American Journalism Project funding and support.
  • Grantees have hired 57 key revenue and operations roles funded by the American Journalism Project — with 90 percent retention.
  • 47 percent of grantees have a person of color leading the organization, the newsroom, or both, and 63 percent have a woman in one or both of those roles.
  • Four startup newsrooms have launched with American Journalism Project support, with two more in the pre-launch stage.

Our early results reinforce our core belief that philanthropy will power the future of the local news field. We’ve never been more certain that national and local philanthropy can together catalyze a new generation of news organizations. We are grateful to all of our partners and supporters, our bold grantees, and team of colleagues who share our values and mission.

We are heartened by these early results, but there’s much more to be done. The road to systems change is a long one, and we’re energized by the challenges and strategic questions that lie ahead. We will continue to report on our results and the results of grantees, and we will use these learnings to inform and scale our operation as we move into the next phase of our efforts beginning this year.

Read the full 2022 Impact Report here.
Download a PDF version here.

Sarabeth Berman is chief executive officer of the American Journalism Project. Find her on Twitter at @SarabethBerman.