Racial Equity in Journalism Fund awards $3.6M to news organizations led by and serving communities of color

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JANS – The Racial Equity in Journalism (REJ) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy has awarded $3.6 million in grants to 28 news organizations serving communities of color across the country.

Communities with the least access to relevant public affairs news – people of color, immigrants, people from low-income, rural, and urban communities, and others – are also most likely to be left out of policy creation and civic processes. This is the moment to support news organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

“Anyone who is living through the COVID pandemic, the continuing acts of police violence throughout America, especially against people of color, and the 2020 elections – deeply understands the need for accurate, relevant news, and frankly how dangerous it is when stories are misreported or left out altogether,” said longtime journalist and REJ Advisory Board Member Raju Narisetti. “Now, more than ever, we need public affairs news to help inform and support full civic participation in our democracy and bring about long term systemic change.”

“Philanthropy is past due in supporting the bold leadership of nonprofit journalism. To be clear – we can’t afford to scale inequality by only funding news organizations serving predominantly white Americans at scale. We must scale people of color serving organizations as well,” said Farai Chideya, Program Officer, Creativity and Free Expression, Journalism at the Ford Foundation, a lead REJ Fund donor. “People-of-color-serving media has always been a critical source for community information. If we want to build an equitable and inclusive future, we must fund diverse and trusted media, now and into the future. Ford is proud to be increasing our investment in this work, pledging $6 million over the next three years.”

This year’s grantee cohort serves audiences who have all been historically underserved by mainstream media: Black, Native, and Latinx people, immigrants, refugees, rural communities, and poor and low-income people. Grantees represent a wide range of geographic areas throughout the country, including communities in Charlotte, Flint, Houston, Memphis, Minneapolis, and Seattle. They include several outlets that cover local media and outlets in news desert, which have been a lifeline for communities during the pandemic.

  • Amsterdam News
  • The Atlanta Voice*
  • Buffalo’s Fire*
  • Cicero Independiente
  • Documented*
  • El Informador*
  • El Tecolote*
  • Enlace Latino NC
  • Epicenter-NYC
  • Flint Beat*
  • Georgia Asian Times
  • QCity Metro*
  • Houston Defender Newspaper Inc.
  • Hylo News
  • Indian Country Today
  • International Examiner
  • Jackson Advocate
  • La Noticia*
  • Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
  • MIWISCONSIN MEDIA INC
  • MLK50: Justice Through Journalism*
  • PULSO*
  • PushBlack*
  • Sahan Journal
  • South Seattle Emerald
  • St. Louis American
  • The TRiiBE*
  • WURD*
    (* = Renewals)

 

The REJ Fund launched in September 2019 with an initial cohort of 16. Over the past year and a half, the Fund has provided general operating support as well as capacity-building resources for grantees to be able to invest in their longer-term skills and sustainability. There is an emphasis on peer learning, with regular trainings from experts. Together, these efforts support the long-term vision of creating a cohort where grantees can rise and build together, instead of being in competition, strengthening the entire ecosystem of BIPOC-led civic media.

“The investment from REJ transformed our organization,” said Mazin Sidahmed, co-founding editor and senior reporter of Documented, which covers New York City’s immigrants and the policies affecting their lives. “The resources we received allowed us to realize all the things that we dreamed of doing. We were able to hire a full-time staffer to be dedicated to our WhatsApp news service and develop content around it, something no other funder was willing to support. The result is our audience grew 200% and our approach has become a leader in the industry. Major news outlets, for-profit and nonprofit, regularly reach out to us to learn from our approach and how they can replicate. This is the industry-changing impact that can happen when people invest in our organizations.”

To learn more about REJ and how to support this critical work, please contact rejfund@borealisphilanthropy.org.