What We Fund

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 critical 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.

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 in the rubric below or who provide important public service to their communities that we have not considered.

Who We’re Looking For

While we will consider 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.

  • 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.

Download the AJP Criteria Rubric PDF


We have invited proposals for our first round of grants for 2019. (Read about our decision-making here.)

If you did not receive a request for proposal, we will be inviting proposals on an ongoing basis in 2020 and will share information about new opportunities with organizations who have submitted an inquiry.

Connect with Us

We are updating this page as our grantmaking criteria evolves. Please check back on May 14th for new grantmaking information, our new letter of inquiry form, and everything that you need to know about AJP funding. Thank you.

Link to be added

Sign Up for Updates