Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund invests in FunTimes Magazine

The grant supports an initiative to increase awareness of mental health resources for the Philadelphia African Diaspora

November 9, 2023

The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund has invested $100,000 in FunTimes Magazine for its “988 Diaspora Campaign” to develop culturally-competent mental healthcare resources and promote the use of the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to the African Diaspora.

This funding has empowered FunTimes Magazine to build a coalition of organizations and newsrooms working to disseminate information on mental health resources through community outreach and engagement, with particular focus on the African Diaspora, which includes Africans, African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans/South Americans and Afro-Latinos.

Since launching the campaign, FunTimes Magazine has created mental health resource materials, generated community outreach, and informed residents in Philadelphia and the five-county metropolitan areas of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties of the new 988 mental health line. 

“FunTimes is promoting the 988 Mental Health Lifeline with the goal of moving the African Diaspora to positive, affirmative action regarding their mental health,” said FunTimes Magazine Publisher Eric Nzeribe. “FunTimes plans to establish a 988 Diaspora Coalition and advisory committee to assist us in reaching diaspora communities in the region. We will engage local Black mental health professionals that can speak to the public on issues that specifically affect the mental health of people of African descent.”

The next outreach event will take place on Dec 9, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Franklin Institute. FunTimes is collaborating with the office of Senator Shariff Street and other local nonprofits and therapists.

FunTimes Magazine has emphasized that Black and brown people have disproportionately been victims of police fatal shootings or unnecessarily harmful methods of restraint for individuals with mental health. While the federal government has created a mental health crisis hotline, 988 Lifeline, many residents are not aware of the resource. This project is aimed at creating awareness among Black and brown communities.

This funding commitment is a grant from the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, now in its fifth year.

“The Knight-Lenfest Fund is proud to continue our partnership with FunTimes on this critical initiative,” said Diana Lu, the Fund’s director. “Eric and his team have identified a key link in the success of a federal resource in marginalized communities. This partnership is showing us and the industry how these community engaged approaches can be applied to other newsrooms, regardless of size and cities.”

Through this grant, the Fund will help FunTimes improve awareness of mental health resources in order to help to counter any misinformation, mistrust, and negative bias against the use of mental health support and the 988 Lifeline in communities of color.

Please text or call 988 to access the 988 Lifeline. Help is available 24 hours a day. 

About The Knight-Lenfest Fund

With a focus on sustainability and equity, The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund is designed to strengthen local journalism at scale, by supporting journalistic excellence and serving the information needs of communities. The Knight-Lenfest Fund collaborates with news organizations, leaders and communities to grow capacity and meet journalism’s technology, business, and audience realities of the future. It believes that journalism is at its best when it is of service. The Knight-Lenfest Fund is a joint venture of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

About FunTimes Magazine

FunTimes was established in 1992 in Monrovia, Liberia and began operations in Philadelphia, PA over ten years ago. The magazine is the trusted information source for the African Diaspora.

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