We work with civic leaders, place-based funders and community foundations to identify and address information gaps in their communities. We provide our local philanthropic partners with:
Our community listening program is designed to reach a range of communities, especially those that are historically underrepresented in the news media. We hire and train local community ambassadors and conduct interviews, digital and SMS surveys, and focus groups, in multiple languages if necessary, to create multiple pathways for the broadest group of people to participate.
Information ecosystem research
We study the local information ecosystem to understand the health and trajectory of existing information sources and the extent to which they are collectively serving residents’ needs through volume of original reporting, representation of perspectives, and reach and accessibility.
Drawing from our work with newsrooms across the country and the collective experience of our team, we translate our findings into program concepts aimed at addressing information gaps left by the existing ecosystem. We find the quickest and most effective paths to serving underserved communities and augmenting the work of existing players with more original reporting.
We build driver-based models oriented toward self-sustainability within four years based on our assessment of local philanthropic, advertising, and audience revenue landscapes. We work closely with our partners on execution planning when they choose to move ahead. If the solution involves a new local news startup, we incubate through launch to set the organization up for success.
We leverage our experience and resources to support local partners and founding teams, providing in-depth support across key functions and connections to a learning community of organizations across the country. Our incubation support can include:
Organization establishment: Establish a board, incorporate, and set up the infrastructure for the organization
Founding team recruitment: Conduct executive searches and hire the founding team
Visioning and strategic planning: Guide the founding team to crystallize the vision and develop a strategic plan to execute
Raising seed capital: Support the founding team’s efforts to secure additional local support
Stakeholder management: Support the founding team in keeping the organization grounded in community needs while being a good partner to other ecosystem players
Equitable organization design: Ensure that the organization’s board and founding team are prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the core structure and mission of the organization
Some of our startup initiatives from across the country:
Together with three of Houston’s leading philanthropies—Houston Endowment, the Kinder Foundation, and Arnold Ventures— we’ve launched Houston Landing, an independent nonprofit news operation in Houston.
Informed by our partnership with The Cleveland Foundation and a coalition of northeast Ohio foundations, we have designed a new statewide network of independent newsrooms to serve Ohio’s information needs. Our partnership launched the first newsroom in 2022 with Signal Cleveland.
Our partnership with the Wichita Community Foundation identified news startup The Beacon as positioned to scale to meet the region’s community information gaps. Together, we’ve invested in The Beacon to grow the organization into a multi-local network to cover Kansas and Missouri. The Beacon’s second newsroom launched in Wichita, KS in September 2021.
We teamed up with a coalition of local organizations and philanthropists to launch Free Press Indiana, the statewide organization behind Indianapolis-based Mirror Indy and which facilitates investments in local news around the state, including in Capital B Gary. Free Press Indiana has raised over $11 million from local and national supporters dedicated to ensuring quality, independent local news and information is freely accessible to all Hoosiers.
Partnership with the Google News Initiative
Our work with local philanthropy and startups is made possible in part by the Google News Initiative (GNI), whose support includes access to GNI-developed products, resources, and programs. Learn more about our partnership here.
Are you interested in partnering with us, or just having a conversation? Please reach out to us.
Photos courtesy of our grantee partners at The Beacon, Cityside, Inewsource, Mississippi Today, and the Ohio Local News Initiative.