$2.5 million Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund to provide support for coronavirus news and information needs

Initial funding to support Resolve Philly, WHYY, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and WURD Radio.

A broad-based, collaborative group of media funders, news enterprises, and community information providers on Wednesday announced the creation of the $2.5 million Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund to ensure that communities in the Philadelphia area have access to reliable news and information throughout and after the coronavirus pandemic. 

Created by The Independence Public Media Foundation (IPMF), The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund (Knight-Lenfest), the Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund will support a broad array of media and other community organizations as they provide accurate and actionable information. The Fund will focus on listening to and addressing the information needs of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable communities at this time of acute need. 

“This fund is about understanding and responding to people’s needs and getting them information where they are,” said IPMF President Molly de Aguiar. “News organizations will be part of the solution, and so too will be other trusted community sources of information. We will support several creative pathways, recognizing that we need many different approaches to reach people where they are.”

Clear, concise, timely and accurate information provided in multiple languages by trusted sources will help ensure that the diverse communities of Philadelphia have access to critical health, economic, and social services information — as well as platforms to share their stories, experiences, and expertise — as they navigate the immediate COVID-19 crisis and the economic challenges to follow.  

“A mutual aid approach to local journalism gives everyone an opportunity to grow, learn, and be of service,” said Roxann Stafford, managing director of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. “This work acknowledges our interdependence and the need to address barriers that existed before the pandemic and that are now being amplified because of it. Local journalism and access to information will continue to play a key role in the resilience and reinvention we find ourselves in now and going forward.”

Of the Fund’s total of $2.5 million, $750,000 is dedicated to grants that will be awarded via an application process detailed below. The Fund’s first grants, totaling $1.75 million will support the following organizations: 

  • Resolve Philly ($1 million), which leads a collaborative of 24 Philadelphia-area news organizations, will serve as the backbone for a coordinated city-wide, crisis response plan that provides vital news and information access and is powered by its partners and other local organizations and institutions. Partners will collaborate to gather, produce, and disseminate localized, urgent, and up-to-date reporting and public health information, which will be translated and published in Spanish and additional languages, based on an assessment of community needs. From this grant, Resolve will also help distribute funding to key partners through public service advertising, sponsored content, and other means.
  • WHYY ($350,000) will launch The News and Information Community Exchange, a collective of grassroots content creators and information providers who will share news, information, resources, and best practices aimed at engaging underserved communities in Philadelphia.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer ($250,000), which is owned by The Lenfest Institute, will create The Inquirer Community News Service, supporting several initiatives including:  El Inquirer, original Spanish-language journalism; Curious Philly, the Inquirer’s community Q&A platform; and “From the Frontlines,” coverage of workers and communities dealing with COVID-19. These initiatives build upon a $3 million investment from the Knight-Lenfest Fund in September 2019 that enabled new product development at The Philadelphia Inquirer emphasizing community-focused journalism. 
  • WURD Radio ($170,000) will launch Lively-HOOD, a multimedia initiative including radio, digital, and event programming that is designed to connect Philadelphians with employment opportunities, career readiness information, entrepreneurship, small business, and financial literacy resources.

The Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund will soon announce a separate call for proposals for a total of $750,000 in added support. Funded initially by IPMF ($500,000) and the Knight-Lenfest Fund ($250,000), these resources will be made available by application to Philadelphia-area organizations that provide trusted, timely information. You can find more details on the application process here, and sign up below to receive email updates on the program. 

The Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund welcomes additional contributions. If you or your organization wish to join as a partner to the Fund in support of your local community, please go to lenfestinstitute.org/covid19support.

Additional information on the supported projects is available here

About The Independence Public Media Foundation

The Independence Public Media Foundation funds and supports creative, community-centered media and media making across Greater Philadelphia. Through grant-making and other programs, the Foundation supports building and strengthening networks of people creating and sharing information, ideas, and stories for change and justice. For more information, visit www.IndependenceMedia.org.

About The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund

With a focus on sustainability and equity, The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, is designed to strengthen local journalism at scale, with a focus on 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. The Fund believes that journalism is at its best when it is of service

About The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to develop and support sustainable business models for great local journalism. The Institute was founded in 2016 by cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest. The Institute is the parent organization of The Philadelphia Inquirer, a for-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to serving the people of the Philadelphia region.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. Learn more at kf.org.

Photo of a drive-in COVID-19 testing site in South Philadelphia by Tim Tai/Philadelphia Inquirer

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