Today, The Al Día Foundation, a new nonprofit created to spark innovation and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia’s journalism community, introduced its inaugural fellowship program supporting emerging journalists in service of a diverse and inclusive local media ecosystem.

The Felix Varela Fellowship Program will provide emerging media professionals training in entrepreneurship, leadership, business, and journalism. Each Fellow will be assigned a mentor, and they will work in Al Día’s newsroom and have the opportunity to publish important stories that serve Al Día’s multicultural, bilingual audience. 

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is supporting the launch of the Fellowship Program and the Foundation with a $150,000 grant. Al Día’s Foundation and Fellowship Program are deeply aligned with the Institute’s commitment to ensure that Philadelphia’s journalists and news organizations are equipped to meet the news and information needs of Philadelphia’s diverse communities. The Institute is proud to join Al Día Foundation founders Elizabeth and Hernan Guaracao in investing in this essential mission. 

Journalist Kianni Figuereo is the first Felix Varela Fellow. Her reporting during the fellowship will focus on how to address Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic. A 2021 graduate of Chestnut Hill College, Figuereo is committed to solutions-based reporting that highlights the Latinx community. 

The fellowship program is named for Felix Varela, a Cuban priest, who founded a Spanish-language newspaper, El Habanero, in Philadelphia in 1824. 

The Al Día Foundation plans to open the fellowship program to additional applicants who will enhance our communities and support democracy through the development of multicultural and bilingual journalism in Philadelphia. 

“These pipelines will include journalists, reporters and media leaders who have the editorial skills of Pulitzer Prize winners and entrepreneurial skills of the entrepreneurs. Our newsrooms will reflect the diversity of Latinos across the nation,” said Al Día CEO Hernan Guaracao.

The Lenfest Institute is partnering with the Al Día Foundation to ensure that all Philadelphians are served with news and information that helps them lead meaningful lives. 

The Institute supports local news organizations, journalists, and entrepreneurs through targeted grantmaking, leadership development programs, and by publishing toolkits and playbooks to ensure that publishers of all sizes can serve their communities. 

“A key part of our mission is to invest in the diverse voices of a future generation who will soon be leading journalism in our market and in our country,” said Lenfest Institute Executive Director & CEO Jim Friedlich. “We’re also eager for other funders to join The Lenfest Institute and the Al Día Foundation in this important work.” 

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