Announcing the launch of the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange

The Founders Exchange is a community-grounded accelerator program to provide grant funding and training to Philadelphia-area media entrepreneurs of color

Applications are now open for the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange, a new accelerator program, designed in partnership with community members, to support the region’s BIPOC media entrepreneurs through training, one-on-one coaching, and grantmaking.

The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange focuses specifically on the urgent need and opportunity to support and advance more media entrepreneurs of color to ensure communities prosper and news businesses thrive and grow sustainably on their own terms.

Self-identified media makers whose businesses are beyond the concept stage of development are encouraged to apply. The program is open to both entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs,” those working inside of news and media organizations with enterprising endeavors. 

Click here to apply and you can visit this page for details on Exchange programming, eligibility details, and more. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 18 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange is supported by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, and the Independence Public Media Foundation.

“Philly media entrepreneurs embody the vision of brotherly love and sisterly affection not only in the content they develop, but also in how they run their business and collaborate with communities,” said Roxann Stafford, managing director of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. “We are excited to continue to support the journeys of these great community business leaders.” 

The Founders Exchange programming, developed and led by co-op Zebras Unite in partnership with Black & Brown Founders, both past leaders of successful new business accelerators, will begin in February. Participating businesses will receive $10,000 each and training in community-powered journalism, branding and marketing, audience and partnership growth, financial modeling, raising capital, executive leadership and emotional resilience. Each participant will also receive personalized coaching to help advance their goals. 

In addition, participants will have the opportunity to receive follow-on grant funding to help execute their plans. A total of $80,000 will be available to be shared between the grantees. More details on the grant process can be found here

“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique flair and vibe,” said Lenfest Institute Program Director Shawn Mooring. “Through this initiative, we will provide targeted support to independent media entrepreneurs to authentically tell their stories and meet the information needs of their communities.”

Over the past three months, the Founders Exchange was co-designed and developed in collaboration with a community of local media entrepreneurs, The Lenfest Institute, and the Knight-Lenfest Fund. Together, they identified the following strategies, which the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange aims to address in part: 

  • Build avenues for increased participation, shared power, and support for media makers and who have been challenged to access existing funding mechanisms
  • Create lower-barrier access to financial support for media makers that preserve autonomy; create space to work, be creative, and rest; and move people and organizations toward sustainability
  • Provide mentorship and technical support for media makers that are responsive to their needs at multiple stages of professional and business development
  • Support and facilitate greater collaboration, not only in service of journalistic storytelling, but also in service of business development
  • Establish dedicated infrastructure to support media entrepreneurship 

The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange was born out of the recognition that Philadelphia benefits from a thriving media ecosystem and BIPOC media entrepreneurs will benefit from additional support, celebration, and community. 

“As a Black media entrepreneur in Philadelphia, I know that my colleagues are some of the most innovative and resilient leaders in our industry. It is exciting to be partnering with Zebras Unite, The Knight-Lenfest Fund, IPMF and The Lenfest Institute to shine a light on the work BIPOC entrepreneurs have been doing while also making an investment in their/our futures,” said Jos Duncan Asé, founder of Love Now Media who is also working as the project’s Community Catalyst, who will support the participating entrepreneurs. 

Please direct any questions about the program, the application process, or ways to further support the Founders Exchange or get involved to [email protected]

Please register here to attend a Zoom-based information session on Friday, January 7 or Thursday, January 13 at noon EST with Community Catalyst Jos Duncan Asé and other members of the Founders Exchange team.

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