This website is an initiative of J-Lab

Sign up for New Voices
e-mail updates!

image image image image

New Voices

Request for Proposals - 2008


    How to Apply


J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism invites U.S. nonprofit groups and education organizations to apply for funding to launch participatory news ventures and to share best practices and lessons learned from their efforts through the Web site.

Eligible to receive New Voices funding are 501(c)3 organizations and education institutions, including civic groups, community organizations, public broadcasters, schools, colleges and universities - and individuals working under the sponsorship of a nonprofit fiscal agent.

Funding is available for start-up news initiatives only. Ongoing efforts are not eligible to apply unless they are proposing a new venture.

Funding Guidelines

Successful applicants will:

  • Benefit a defined geographic or special-interest community.
  • Foster an open exchange of journalistically sound information, news and opinion in that community.
  • Develop a publicly accessible, regularly updated, online space to showcase their efforts.

Projects will be selected on:

  • The level of communications creativity.
  • Plans for effectively serving an identified community with fact-based news, information, dialogue, and civic participation opportunities.
  • Usefulness as a prototype for others.
  • Prospects for obtaining matching funds and sustaining the project after New Voices funding has ended.

Special Eligibility for Former Knight Newspaper Communities

New Voices is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Of the 10 projects to be funded in 2008, at least three of the grants will be targeted for news initiatives to be launched in some of the 26 communities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. See the list of communities in the Community Partners Program at

Timeline and Funding

Under the New Voices project, J-Lab will select 10 projects in 2008. Each project may receive as much as $17,000.  The funding will come in three tiers over two years:

Year One, beginning early summer 2008:
A total of $12,000 is available in start-up funding.

  • $6,000 will be released upon the return of signed grant documents.
  • Another $6,000 will be available after a satisfactory four-month progress report is made.

Year Two, beginning in early summer 2009:
A final award of $5,000 will be considered for Year One grantees that:

  • Successfully launch their projects in Year One.
  • Meet deadlines to supply satisfactory, quarterly progress reports.
  • File a Year Two project plan.
  • Match the $5,000 with other support from funders, donors, subscribers and/or e-commerce.

Eligible expenses:

  • Grant funds may be used for equipment, software, rent, phones, training, marketing, production, stipends, freelance payments and contracted services.
  • Grants may not be used to cover indirect or overhead costs.

Reporting Requirements:
Applicants must launch their proposed initiative, including an online presence, within 10 months of receiving funding.  In addition to providing short quarterly updates, they must be willing to share widely their progress and lessons learned.  Updates from the reports will be posted on A Year Two Plan is required at the end of Year One. A final report is required at the end of Year Two.

Some New Voices recipients may be invited to participate in J-Lab training workshops or conferences.

New Voices grants are intended as one-time only, start-up grants; applicants are not eligible for future New Voices or Knight Foundation funding for their community news initiatives.  A key factor in selecting grantees will be plans for acquiring Year Two matching funds and sustaining a project after New Voices funding ends.


  • Funding is available for start-up news initiatives only. Ongoing efforts are not eligible to apply unless they are proposing a new venture.
  • Funding may be used only for news and information projects.  Advocacy and government projects are not eligible.
  • Funding is available for print and electronic news initiatives, including online, cable, broadcast, narrowcast, satellite and mobile efforts.
  • Collaborative ventures are eligible as long as the funded party is a nonprofit or education institution.
  • All school-based projects must demonstrate an ability to produce content year-round.
  • Religious organizations may receive grants for non-sectarian purposes only.  Proposals to proselytize or to promote the tenets of a particular religious belief will not be considered.
  • Funded applicants must have plans to launch their initiative within 10 months of receiving funding.
  • Applicants must outline a specific plan for sustaining the project after start-up funding is spent.
  • Only projects based in the United States may apply.
  • Bilingual or multilingual projects to deliver news and information in the languages of targeted ethnic communities will be considered. However, for education purposes, projects must also make all news and information available in English. All grant reports must be in English.
  • Content developed by successful grantees must also be posted online and made easily accessible to the public for the duration of the grant so that the projects can serve as prototypes and educational resources.

Phone: 202-885-8100
E-mail: {encode=""}

The deadline for 2008 proposals has passed. Thanks to all who applied.

Funded projects will be selected by the New Voices Advisory Board. The judges reserve the right to select projects that represent a diversity of topics, areas and participants. The judges will decline to consider any applicant that does not meet all the guidelines. Meet the New Voices Advisory Board.

Back to Spotlights | Back to Home Page | E-mail This | 


American University School of CommunicationJohn S. and James L. Knight FoundationJ-LabNew Voices is an initiative of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism. J-LabTM is an incubator for innovative, participatory news experiments and is a center of American University's School of Communication in Washington, D.C.
New Voices is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Site design by Hop Studios.