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New Voices

Request for Proposals - 2009


Check back in the fall for info on 2010 grants.

    How to Apply


Is something missing in your local media landscape? Are you craving news and information sources that energize, engage and build a sense of community and connection? Are you ready to be the media you wish to see in your town?

J-Lab: The institute for Interactive Journalism invites you to apply for funding to launch a participatory news venture in your community. J-Lab will select eight projects in 2009. Each project may receive up to $25,000.

Proposals are due Feb. 12, 2009.

What are the specifics?

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

WHAT: Only start-up news initiatives can receive funding. Ongoing efforts are not eligible unless they are proposing a new project or product.

WHERE: Projects can produce news and information for a geographic area such as a small town, city, county, state or region. Or they can serve a community of interest. Of the eight projects to be funded in 2009, at least three grants are targeted for news initiatives in the 26 communities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. See that list:

HOW MUCH: Grantees may receive up to $25,000. They will receive $17,000 the first year and are eligible for $8,000 in matching funds in the second year.

WHEN: Online applications are due February 12, 2009.

  • Winners will be announced in spring 2009.
  • Grantees receive their first check for $10,000 in summer 2009, upon receipt of a signed subcontract and W-9.
  • A second check for $7,000 will be sent after an initial progress report is received.
  • Grantees must launch their project and Web site within 10 months of receiving funding.
  • A final check for $8,000 will be sent in fall 2010 to grantees who successfully launch their projects in Year One, file all grant reports, document having raised $8,000 in matching funds, and submit a plan for Year Two.

What exactly are we looking for?

New voices projects must serve a defined community.

New Voices grantees must foster an open exchange of journalistically sound information.

New Voices recipients must develop a publicly accessible, regularly updated Web site to showcase their efforts.

New Voices projects must offer users a way to share or contribute news, opinion, and other content, and participate in conversation about their targeted community.

New Voices projects must have an achievable plan to deliver a steady flow of fresh, original content year-round. They must submit a reasonable budget, a strategy for obtaining matching funds and other support from donors, subscribers, foundations, events, advertising, or e-commerce. They must describe how they will keep their project alive after New Voices funding has ended.

New Voices grantees must show creativity in the use of new digital technologies. Mobile applications, geo-tagging and collaborative reporting ideas are welcome.

Project leaders must post regular brief blogs to the Web site, sharing experiences, challenges and successes along the way. These informal updates will build a knowledge network to help others learn the do’s and don’ts of launching community news ventures.

What else do you need to know?

  • Funding is available for print and electronic news initiatives, including online, cable, broadcast, satellite and mobile efforts.
  • Grant funds may be used for equipment, software, rent, phones, training, travel, marketing, production, stipends, freelance payments and contracted services.
  • Grants may not be used to cover indirect or overhead costs. Fiscal sponsors may not take a percentage of new voices funding.
  • Collaborative ventures are eligible as long as the funded party is a nonprofit or education institution.
  • 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.
  • Funding may be used only for news and information projects. Advocacy and government projects are not eligible.
  • All school and university-based projects must demonstrate an ability to produce content year-round.
  • Hyperlocal projects must be based in the community they intend to cover. Proposals that require long distance travel to develop content will not be considered.
  • Only projects based in the United States may apply.
  • New Voices does not fund youth media training or literacy projects.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grantees may be invited to participate in J-Lab meetings and symposia.

Complete all submissions in English only.

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

February 12, 2009

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.

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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.

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