Today, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is opening applications for the 2021 Lenfest Next Generation Fund, which supports Philadelphia-area journalists and students of color with their professional development.
In 2021, the Next Generation Fund will have two tracks:
• The Lenfest Next Generation Award Fund will grant $500 stipends toward the professional development opportunity of winners’ choice. Grantees can use these funds toward a course, a conference, a career coach, equipment, or something else that will help you take the next step in your career.
• The Next Generation Fund Internship Support Track will allow applicants to apply for funding to support them while taking on an unpaid internship.
For more information, we have created a short presentation on the program. The deadline to apply is Thursday April 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
This marks a departure from how we’ve traditionally run the Next Generation Fund since its launch in 2019. In the past, we’ve given awards to support conference attendance, but last year, of course, we saw our routines upended. Many conferences went virtual, and while they were still impactful, the ability to network and focus was often greatly diminished. For some of our 2020 awardees, the shift made it harder for them to achieve their professional development goals in attending their chosen conference. I honestly was unsure whether a program like this would even be useful when it is draining just to make it through each day, with a news cycle that just won’t quit.
There have been many things the pandemic has done to make our lives more painful, but one of the more positive notes of this period is the increased flexibility that it has afforded many of us. We’ve been able to work in whatever clothing feels comfortable, take pets on walks when they need it, and spend time with those we live with throughout the day. This increased flexibility is something that I hope remains once we’re all vaccinated, and is something that we want to reflect in this program. Another trend we saw last year was the shrinking of newsroom internship programs in 2020 and beyond due to remote work and the dire financial situation of many news enterprises. While those reasons are understandable, this gap hurts young aspiring journalists. Internships help students gain experience, skills, and connections. It also makes them more competitive when they enter the workforce.
Newsrooms understand this and some have decided to offer unpaid internships to provide the experience without impacting their bottom line. This inequitable practice excludes students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who need to provide for themselves or their families and can not afford to work for free. Some students may take on an unpaid internship part-time so they can gain critical experience, and then find another job to help make ends meet. . This puts additional stress on these students to perform well at the internship in order to advance their career, while also needing to perform well at their paid gig to keep the job and sustain themselves.
I was one of those students in school, and although I did well, I wonder how much better I would have done if the internship would have been paid and I could focus solely on doing that job well. When you factor in that people of color, queer folks, and people that are disabled are more likely to deal with poverty, we can clearly see how this socioeconomic inequity also further perpetuates the other inequities we are trying to combat in journalism.
For these reasons, we are also opening the Next Generation Fund Internship Support Track. This will allow applicants to apply for funding to support them while taking on an unpaid internship.
Want to apply for either Lenfest Next Generation Fund track in 2021? Here’s what you need to know:
The Lenfest Next Generation Fund Awards for Professional and Student Journalists provides awards of $500 to Philadelphia-area journalists and students of color to use toward a course, a conference, a career coach, equipment, or something else that will help you take the next step in your career.
To be considered you have to be a journalist or a student of journalism who resides in the Greater Philadelphia Area and self-identifies as a person of color.
- Top applicants will show the growth potential and the ability to share what you learned with others in the news ecosystem. You should also have a clear vision of your career goals, know how the professional development opportunity will help you achieve them, and also have a clear passion for diversity.
- Preference will be given to first-time award recipients.
In addition to the existing Professional Development Track, we have added a Next Generation Fund: Internship Support Track to the program. This will allow applicants to apply for funding to support them while taking on an unpaid internship.
Here’s how the internship track works:
- To be eligible for this track, the applicant must have applied for and been accepted to an unpaid internship program.
- The participant should either be from, attend school in, or be working in the Greater Philadelphia area.
- Preference will be given to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA.
- Internship Support Track applicants are eligible for a stipend of up to $4,200.
- Applicants can apply to both the Internship Support Track and the Professional Development Track but preference will be given to first-time award recipients.
If there are any questions that weren’t answered there, please reach out to us at [email protected].