Local Media Foundation is proud to announce the first stipends for investigative reporting recipients from the Fund for Local Journalism. The winners include a diverse mix of local news organizations, all focused on empowering critical change in their communities. In this round, stipends go to projects focused on one of three topics: education, social injustice, or the unhoused.

The 10 investigative reporting stipends, $5,000 each, will go to the following recipients:

The Atlanta Voice, Atlanta, Ga.

The Atlanta Homeless Project: an ongoing docuseries and multimedia reporting project to explore, reveal, and give voice to Atlanta’s homeless population that has been exacerbated by the closure of several of the city’s homeless shelters due to COVID 19. A research team will work on understanding how this community is counted, how the issue became so pervasive, and how resources are administered to mitigate and get more of Atlanta’s shelterless citizens off of the streets.

The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.

Hospitals, especially hospitals in rural areas, continue to struggle and shutter, leaving millions without access to acute services and sometimes even basic health care. The Daily Item in Sunbury, PA will focus its reporting on the problem of “medical deserts” in its region – areas more than a one-hour drive from a hospital with an emergency room. Their reporting will examine impacts on family medicine practices challenged to treat patients that need more specialized services;  rural pharmacies closing at high rates; and the disproportionate impact on minority communities.

El Tímpano, Oakland, Calif.

Evictions and displacement for Oakland’s Latinx and Mayn immigrants: El Tímpano is uniquely situated to report on the intersection of the coronavirus and housing. Through this long term reporting project, they will collaborate with El Tímpano’s audience as well as another local outlet, The Oaklandside, to cover the impact of this year’s economic downturn on evictions and displacement for Oakland’s Latinx and Mayan immigrants.

Granite State News Collaborative / New Hampshire Public Broadcasting

Policing and systemic racism: this data-driven project will dive deep into the numbers to better understand if New Hampshire’s policing is fair to minority populations. They will evaluate ten years of history from all NH cities and towns on issues related to police funding, number of police officers, demographics of the departments and violent crime arrests. Finally, they will propose solutions.

Pamplin Media Group/Oregon

Latino education gap: to develop and publish impactful reporting that provides information on the disparities in high school graduation rates and other metrics for Latino students while at the same time providing much needed information to parents, educators and decision-makers still struggling to navigate dramatic changes in education models forced by the pandemic.

The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

House Snatchers: How a cabal of local and national investors use existing laws as a cudgel and administrative judges as facilitators to snatch homes from Black people in fast-growing areas of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

Racine County Eye, Wisconsin

The ‘No Voice’ project: seeks to give convicted felons a voice by educating the public about the social injustices they face. Wisconsin law bars convicted felons from voting even after they’ve gotten out of prison. For felons, their sentences include prison time and extended supervision by a probation officer. Racine County Eye wants to define the problem, compare and contrast solutions from other states to find the best solution for their community.

The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Ut.

Homelessness in rural Utah: a four-part series examining homelessness in rural Utah and suburban areas outside of Salt Lake County — communities where there are fewer resources for unhoused individuals. The reporting will examine the resources that are (or are not) available to unhoused individuals and families, the impact of COVID and the urbanization of Utah and barriers to progress.

Sustainable Journalism Foundation, d.b.a. NonDoc Media, Oklahoma City, Ok.

Police accountability: this project will examine the reasons that body cameras and other accountability equipment for the police are severely limited in some of Oklahoma’s larger communities.

Washington Informer, Washington DC

African American homeownership: African American renters, the majority who spend more than 30% of their income on rent, will be hit the hardest when the federal and local COVID-19 moratoriums on evictions are gradually lifted over the next few months. This reporting will focus on what the public, private, and philanthropic communities are planning to do to prevent the potential for a devastating wave of homelessness among African American families in the Nation’s Capital.

The Fund for Local Journalism (FLJ) was announced in the spring and since that time, $90,000 was raised from 161 donors. Applications for the first round opened in August. FLJ supports local reporting projects, in-depth investigative accountability, and solutions journalism efforts that provide an important public service in communities across North America.

How the contest was judged

An independent panel of judges reviewed over 30 applications and recommended the final 10. The Local Media Foundation team accepted the recommendations without making any changes. Judges were asked to heavily weigh the strength of the proposed reporting project and to give priority to financial need and impact, and the news organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The judges for this round were:

Ebony Reed, new audiences chief, Wall Street Journal and former director of innovation at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Maud Beeman is founding Executive Editor for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at Arizona State University. Until 2019, she was the U.S. investigations editor for The Associated Press.

Nicole Vap is Director of Investigative News for 9News in Denver, Colorado and for the TEGNA media group; and is a previous board member of IRE.

“We couldn’t be more excited to financially support these 10 investigative reporting projects through the Fund for Local Journalism,” said Nancy Lane, chief executive officer, Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation. “We want to thank the 161 donors who made this possible. Charitable contributions that support local news and investigative reporting are as important as donating to other worthy causes such as the arts, education and health.”

Applications for the stipends were submitted via NewsFuel, a site Local Media Association built with funding from Google News Initiative to help match philanthropic funding opportunities to news organizations and their projects.

The next round of investigative reporting stipends will open in early 2021. LMF accepts donations to the Fund for Local Journalism at: https://givebutter.com/fundforlocaljournalism (general fund) and https://givebutter.com/publishersofcolorfund (specifically designated for publishers of color).