The Community Listening and Engagement Fund on Tuesday announced the creation of the CLEF COVID-19 Response Fund to ensure that local newsrooms are meeting the information needs of their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The $50,000 fund will subsidize the use of listening and engagement tools and services for specific needs related to coverage of the pandemic and its effects on communities. The CLEF COVID-19 Response Fund is open to both nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms that are already committed to community engagement and are looking to advance their work in response to COVID-19.

The Fund will subsidize usage of tools and services designed to help newsroom engage more deeply with their communities: Hearken, GroundSource, Coral by Vox Media, The Listening Post Collective, and DocumentCloud/MuckRock.

Applications are now open, and the deadline to apply is April 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. For more details, please visit for an FAQ with common questions. 

“Local newsrooms have worked tirelessly to keep their communities informed about the impacts of coronavirus,” said Lenfest Institute Program Manager Cheryl Thompson-Morton. “The CLEF COVID-19 Response Fund will help newsrooms continue and expand their listening efforts. As we all adjust to this new normal, the work of engagement is more important than ever, especially for marginalized communities.” 

Founded in 2018, CLEF is a project of The News Integrity Initiative, Democracy Fund, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Knight Foundation. The grant-making initiative was designed to help news organizations produce more relevant and trusted coverage for the diverse audiences they serve. 

Now, more than ever, communities require factual, reliable news. And newsrooms need to understand what information their communities need so they can ensure their coverage is as relevant, representative, and equitable as possible. By focusing on engagement now, newsrooms will be able to sharpen their immediate coronavirus coverage and also build a solid foundation for long-term sustainability.

About The News Integrity Initiative

The News Integrity Initiative is a philanthropic fund and a global coalition of newsrooms, nonprofits, technologists, and academics to foster mutually trusting relationships between journalists and the communities they serve, while also tackling the spread of disinformation, and nurturing respectful and inclusive civic dialogue. NII is a project of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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About Democracy Fund

Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $70 million in support of a healthy democracy, including modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.

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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.

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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.

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If you have any questions about this grant, please reach out to [email protected].

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The Lenfest Institute provides free tools and resources for local journalism leaders to develop sustainable strategies to serve their communities.

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