Report for America brought together 14 communities last week to launch a history-making effort to catalyze news funding for communities across America.
The Community News Fund Workshop brings together for the first time news and philanthropy leaders who have created news funds in their communities — or who seek to do so. They will spend the next six months in an immersive process that includes expert coaching from industry leaders, peer review of strategy and the collaborative creation of a best-practices toolkit for distribution across America.
“The rise of local news philanthropy has been essential over the last decade,” said Todd Franko, Report for America’s director of local sustainability. “And where community news funds have been established, there has been an acceleration of philanthropy, bringing even stronger news opportunities.”
The work is supported by Google News Initiative, an early supporter of Report for America.
“It’s great to see the continued success and ongoing work of Report for America,” said Chrissy Towle, director of News Partnerships at Google. “Their latest offering through the Community News Fund Workshop is aligned with the Google News Initiative’s efforts to encourage a sustainable news ecosystem and will help to support the growth of community news funds.”
Participating CNFs include: Lancaster County Local Journalism Fund, Inland Empire Community Foundation, Georgia News Collaborative, Western Iowa Journalism Foundation, Local Journalism Initiative of Delaware, Yakima Free Press Campaign, and the New Hampshire Community News Fund.
“In California, we are seeing a growing interest from community foundations in launching community news funds to support journalism, especially as civic and community leaders and local philanthropists better understand how the local news crisis is impacting their communities,” said Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher of Black Voice News in Riverside, Calif. “Report for America is bringing together some of the leading thinkers and doers working to engage community philanthropy in supporting local news and information ecosystems. I believe this workshop will accelerate the development of pooled funds and civic-led investment in local journalism through the sharing of best practices, knowledge exchange, and resource development.”
The new workshop series, led by Amy Bonn, manager of local sustainability, is a continuation of Report for America’s work studying local news funding practices as part of its 5-year-old mission to replenish local news. Since 2017, Report for America has worked with 315 newsrooms employing 547 corps members. Local newsrooms have raised more than $15 million in that time.
“The workshop features some of the nation’s great thought leaders on local journalism philanthropy,” Bonn said. “We are thrilled they’ve agreed to commit to the program and look forward to how they’ll shape the future of their community news funds and how their work will inform this movement.”
Report for America first published the impactful Community News Fund report in 2022 based on a year examining seven news fund communities: Pennsylvania, California, Lexington, Traverse City, Fresno, Lancaster and Seattle.
The general concept of news funds is local philanthropy leaders partnering with their local news leaders to bring more donors, diversity and cohesion to a community’s funding and news ecosystems.
The six-session workshop program will continue through June. The workshop will help participants expand the capacity of their CNFs across the country. In that process, Report for America will develop a best-practices toolkit and roadmap for other foundation and news leaders to more easily establish funds in their communities.
The workshop will complement other community news fund activities that Report for America will be conducting this year, including an interactive map that will track the progress of community news funds across the country, a follow up report to the initial Community News Fund Report, a toolkit with templates for communities interested in creating or expanding a CNF and a quarterly newsletter.
If you are interested in learning more about Community News Funds and/or getting involved, please fill out this short survey.
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 across the United States and its territories. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.