Meet the inaugural Philadelphia Local News Sustainability Initiative grantees Learn more
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is the nonprofit, non-controlling owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer is the largest American newspaper owned by a nonprofit and dedicated to public service. The Lenfest Institute is joined by thousands of individual donors in supporting investigative journalism, diversity, and product innovation at The Inquirer.
The Institute’s innovative business model — established by Institute founder H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest — has inspired nonprofit ownership of major local news organizations in various forms from Baltimore to Salt Lake City, Chicago to Lancaster.
The Institute’s non-controlling ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer, which remains a for-profit public benefit corporation, ensures that The Inquirer is editorially independent and has the flexibility to function as a modern media company.
With the Institute’s support, The Philadelphia Inquirer continues to develop and incorporate new technology and digital products to better reach audiences. It has also focused on creating new community-focused news coverage that uplifts the voices of those traditionally overlooked by journalists.
The Lenfest Institute provides targeted grant support to The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Lenfest Institute supports The Philadelphia Inquirer’s ongoing technological transformation as it builds toward a sustainable digital future.
The Inquirer now has tens of thousands of digital subscribers, and it continues to introduce new product features to attract loyal audiences.
Thanks to Institute funding, The Inquirer was able to upgrade its back-end systems to improve its digital subscription marketing, billing, and retention strategies to better serve readers and develop strategies that are critical to its future.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Communities & Engagement Desk is dedicated to increasing representation and community visibility in The Inquirer’s reporting. In addition to its own reporting and community engagement, the team works with Inquirer journalists throughout the newsroom to better connect with communities.
Led by Sabrina Vourvoulias, senior editor, communities and engagement, the desk is focused on producing a regular cadence of published and experiential coverage that engages and serves Philadelphia’s underserved and marginalized communities.
The team has focused on building non-transactional relationships with communities, with an eye to better serving them. The desk is committed to developing and sustaining diverse new audiences from within communities that don’t currently look to The Inquirer for news and information.
As the birthplace of American democracy and many of the nation’s oldest institutions, Philadelphia became the place where systemic racism was often enshrined within those same institutions. The Inquirer’s A More Perfect Union series sought to hold institutions accountable for enforcing this unequal structure and illuminate a solutions-oriented path forward. A More Perfect Union was led by Inquirer contributing editor Errin Haines, who is also editor-at-large of The 19th* and a member of The Lenfest Institute’s Board of Managers. Haines was joined by journalists from both inside and outside The Inquirer newsroom, who are committed to a clear-eyed look at Philadelphia, its institutions, and the impact they have on our communities and the nation.
A More Perfect Union was produced with support from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Peter and Judy Leone, and Surdna Foundation. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.
In 2021, researchers from Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication conducted an independent audit of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s news coverage. The study provided a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative look at The Inquirer’s representation of different races, genders, and geographies in its news coverage and its news team. The content audit is informing The Inquirer’s continued work to ensure that its coverage is more representative.
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a non-profit LLC formed for charitable and educational purposes. The Institute is The Inquirer’s non-controlling majority shareholder.
The Institute is an affiliate of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism Special Asset Fund of Philadelphia Foundation (Formerly The Philadelphia Foundation Special Assets Fund), a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and a public charity. Neither The Institute nor TPF control The Inquirer. Instead, The Inquirer’s Board of Directors is responsible for operational and key decision-making. The Inquirer remains a for-profit business, a “B-Corp” or Public Benefit Corporation.
Although the Institute technically owns The Inquirer, under the legal structure– and to protect its editorial independence – The Inquirer operates independently under its current management team and its Board of Directors.
The Institute owns 9,999 non-voting shares in The Inquirer. The charitable Inquirer Trust holds the one voting share of stock of The Inquirer. The trustees of the charitable trust are the same as the members of the Board of Directors of The Inquirer. The purpose of the charitable trust was to vest control of The Inquirer in the hands of its Board of Directors so as to ensure it would be operated independently from the Institute and maintain editorial independence.
The Institute’s Board of Managers governs the tax-exempt mission of the Institute. Although inherently connected to The Inquirer, these are independent bodies with independent missions and independent responsibilities.