Announcing the inaugural Fundraising for Community Media cohort

April 3, 2024

The Center for Community Media (CCM) and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism are pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of Fundraising for Community Media, the first such program exclusively dedicated to building fundraising strategies in AAPI, Black, and Latine-led newsrooms in the U.S. Fifteen newsrooms have been selected to be a part of this three-month, tuition-free, online program. The training program, designed in collaboration with The Lenfest Institute’s News Philanthropy Network (NPN), is explicitly designed to support community-based news media that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in philanthropy.

“Community media upholds many of the values that philanthropy cares about,” said Cheryl Thompson-Morton, CCM’s Black Media Initiative Director. “Our aim with this program is to help the newsrooms leverage their unique strengths to build more financially resilient news organizations that can meet the information needs of these underrepresented communities.”

The selected newsrooms represent both traditional media and digital-first organizations, and serve Black American, Cuban American and Indian American communities, as well as wider Asian American, Latine, Multiracial, and Pan-African communities, from across the country, including California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington. Their coverage centers on activists, women and girls, millennials, multiracial families, elders, and undocumented immigrant communities in outlets ranging from daily newspapers to digital information hubs to glossy magazines to multimedia storytelling platforms.

Three leaders from AAPI, Black, and Latino Media will serve as coach-mentors: Melanie Figueiredo, Vice President of Advertising and Sponsorship Sales at URL Media; Kimberly Griffin, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer of Mississippi Free Press; and Vandana Kumar, Funder and Publisher of India Currents. Drawing from their hard-won insight and expertise over decades, they will support cohort members as peer leaders of color who have navigated similar challenges to successfully build their own fundraising strategies.

More than 85 newsrooms applied for this first cohort, demonstrating the overwhelming need and enthusiasm for these skills in a journalism industry that far too often excludes them from funding opportunities. The pool of applicants hailed from every region of the country and serve diverse communities.

Philanthropy has a history of giving organizations led by people of color less money, while also burdening them with more requirements than their white-led counterparts. Due to the historic reliance on advertising revenue, and the systemic racism that has plagued the system, many community media outlets haven’t built out a philanthropic revenue stream. The goal of this program is to empower these publishers to seek funding for their non- and for-profit news organizations to help ensure financial sustainability.

As Lenfest Institute Chief Advancement Officer Annie McCain Madonia explains: “Philanthropy is an essential part of the revenue mix for sustainable local news organizations. As an increasing number of funders and donors take an interest in supporting local journalism, it’s important that publishers have the fundraising skills necessary to make the most of these opportunities.”

The cohort is almost evenly split between nonprofit and for-profit news organizations. Nearly three-quarters are from small newsrooms with fewer than five employees and most of the participating publishers reported having little to no experience or success fundraising.

The program will kick off on April 9 with biweekly virtual sessions to expand the teams’ grant writing skills, donor prospecting, and fundraising campaign planning strategies. Teams will walk away with a better understanding of the news philanthropy field as a whole to uncover new opportunities for funding in the future.

Meet the inaugural cohort:

Learn more about the participating organizations and the coaches by visiting CCM’s website.

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