Report for America invites foundations, local news leaders to learn more about ‘Community News Funds’

How can local philanthropy and newsroom leaders create a more sustainable model to save local journalism? Report for America invites community foundations and local newsroom leaders to discuss a major new trend — the creation of “Community News Funds” — during a virtual panel, April 13, at 2 p.m. EDT.

Read the report

The event draws upon the findings of a newly-released report that demonstrates how a growing number of communities have created a single, permanent fund to promote long-term support for local journalism.

“We can no longer view journalism as largely the responsibility of the commercial media, or a short-term problem that can be solved with temporary grants,” said Todd Franko, Report for America’s director of local sustainability and development. “We need to see it as an important civic function, worthy of ongoing philanthropic support, akin to a hospital, a library or a school.” 

Guests will learn more about this game-changing tool from local leaders who have successfully adopted the approach. 

Panelists include:


Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher of Black Voice News and founder of Voice Media Ventures, a strategic media and content creation firm, and president of the Inland Empire Community Foundation.

“I’ve been involved in the family business (BVN) for 20 years, and 20 years ago I knew philanthropy was a need because the funding model wasn’t sustainable. I knew, especially as a small community publication that has a history of calling out disparities and calling out discrimination within our region, that the traditional advertisers weren’t necessarily going to advertise with us. I knew when I inherited the publication that there’s no way we could continue trying to scrape by with advertisers, that we needed something different.”


Dave Mengebier, president and CEO, Greater Traverse Regional Community Foundation.

“I think if you want to have healthy, resilient, thriving communities, which is part of our vision statement, then there’s certain institutions that are really important to exist in your community, community writ large, right? And that includes having a newspaper, you know, along with things like having a community library, and, and a vibrant arts and culture community.”


Nathan Payne, executive editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, who worked with Mengebier to create a community news fund.

“There are a lot of reasons we do this job and almost none of them have to do with getting rich or being famous. A lot of times, it’s really thankless but in the end, we all believe that what we’re doing is worth saving.”

Payne and Mengebier will address themes of collaboration, and how community foundations can be a catalyst for bringing other funders to the table.


Gretchen Moore, former chief strategy officer at Central Valley Community Foundation. CVCF is well known for their Impact Media and Measurement Fund which includes: Education Lab, Fresnoland, Co Lab Central Valley News Collaborative, Branches and Roots, and The Big Tell Film Contest.

“For the first 50 years of our existence, we’re a traditional community foundation, managing local philanthropy and you know, lots of charitable transactions. Over the last five years, we have shifted to community transformation work and have really built the organization around how-do-we address the intractable challenges that our community faces.”

Moore will highlight how community foundations can draw on their organizational and community assets to create a CNF and help build community collaborations.


Doug Root, vice president of communications, Pittsburgh Community Foundation.

“There are two planks of funding for foundations: the first is the foundation’s mission (initiatives, projects and response to community needs) the second is civic democracy and vision of community and engaged citizenry.”

Root will share his experience as both a journalist and as a foundation leader, and how to frame investing in local journalism as one that is essential to a healthy community.

The “Community News Funds” report was made possible with support from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Meta Journalism Project. Promotional partners for this upcoming panel include Lenfest and Media Impact Funders.

“You know, by collaborating together and thinking differently about the way we work together, we can build stronger media ecosystems, and we can build really strong and robust philanthropic communities for the industry,” said Annie McCain Madonia, Lenfest’s chief advancement officer.

Following the panel, Report for America’s local sustainability team will remain available to answer your questions or to schedule a followup meeting with your organization. Register today to join this dynamic discussion.

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.