(Aug. 19, 2020) — Local Media Foundation today opened applications to fund at least 10 investigative reporting projects up to $5,000 each from The Fund for Local Journalism.

The investigative reporting funds will be available to qualifying local news organizations based in North America. In this round, stipends will go to projects focused on one of three topics: education, social injustice, or the unhoused.

Applications will remain open until 5 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Aug. 31. The judging and selection process will run until late September.

“We’re looking for the best investigative reporting projects focused on one of our three topics for this initial round of funding,” said Nancy Lane, LMA chief executive officer. “All local media companies are invited to apply. Preference will be given to projects that use the funds to dive deep into these important community issues in ways that wouldn’t be possible without this funding.”

The Fund for Local Journalism was on LMF’s roadmap for 2020, long before COVID hit, Lane said. A committee led by P.J. Browning of The Post and Courier and Erica Smith of The Times Union/Hearst Newspapers worked with five other board members and the LMA team on a business plan to develop an industry fund that would provide stipends for investigative reporting projects. The fund received a boost when Google ran a $15 million ad campaign that urged the public to support local news. One of the calls to action was to donate to The Fund for Local Journalism. 

To date, $91,000 has been raised from 161 donors. The first round of funding for investigative reporting projects will go to at least 10 local news organizations.

In addition to the strength of the proposed reporting project, judges will give priority to financial need and impact, and the news organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The application form is available via NewsFuel, LMA’s new platform designed to match journalists and news projects to sources of potential philanthropic funding.

Questions about the application process should be directed to Lindsey Estes at lindsey.estes@localmedia.org