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Frequently Asked Questions

About New Voices Grants


March 1, 2010


    How to Apply

Q. I’ve been working on a Web site / print publication / TV show / radio show for a year now. Will New Voices fund it?

A. New Voices was created to help start new projects, rather than support existing ones. If you wish to create an entirely new venture that is related to your existing project, you could be eligible to apply for New Voices funding.

Q. I run a print publication / TV or radio station / Web business and want to launch a hyperlocal media site. Am I eligible to apply for New Voices funding?

A. For-profit companies and individuals are not eligible to apply for New Voices funding. New Voices grants are available only for educational institutions and nonprofit organizations granted the following IRS-condoned tax-exempt status:

  • 501(c)3 Religious, educational, charitable, scientific or literary organizations; testing for the public safety organizations.
  • 501(c)4 Civic leagues, social welfare organizations and local associations of employees.
  • 501(c)5 Labor, agriculture and horticulture organizations
  • 501(c)6 Business leagues, chambers of commerce and real estate boards.
  • 501(c)7 Social and recreational clubs
  • 501(c)8 Fraternal beneficiary societies and associations.
  • 501(c)9 Voluntary beneficiary associations.

It is also possible for individuals to set themselves up as a 501(c)3.

Q. I am an individual with no idea how to set myself up as a 501(c)3 organization. Am I barred from applying for a New Voices grant?

A. Not necessarily. You could apply for nonprofit status from the IRS. Be advised, however, that process could take up to six months or more. You might also seek out a partnership with an existing nonprofit/charitable organization or educational institution that can act as your fiscal agent and receive New Voices funding on your behalf. A letter documenting such support needs to accompany your grant application packet.

Q. I am affiliated with a state university that is recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit but not under the 501(c)3 designation. Are we eligible to submit a New Voices application?

A. Yes. Higher education institutions with IRS nonprofit status are eligible to apply, even if they are not specifically designated as 501(c)3s. The institution should submit a letter from the IRS confirming its alternate nonprofit status.

Q. What is the timeline for New Voices funding?

A. All 2010 applications must be received by March 1, 2010. The New Voices Advisory Board will meet to decide the winners in April; winners will be announced in May. Winners will be mailed a packet of grant documents shortly after the announcement. Grant recipients will begin receiving their funding shortly after they complete and send back all the necessary documents. Earliest funding would be forthcoming in mid-May 2010.

Q. Why are some of this year’s New Voices grants targeted for communities that once had Knight-owned newspapers?

A. With the demise in 2006 of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, the Knight Foundation, which was created by John S. and James L. Knight, seeks to provide new ways for media to continue informing the community.

Q. Does an applicant/fiscal agent need to be an IRS certified tax exempt organization at the time of applying for a New Voices grant?

A. Yes, all applicants must have received IRS designation as a nonprofit organization by the March 1, 2010, deadline and must submit IRS documentation of that status. Notice that being in the process of seeking non-profit status is not sufficient.

Q. What is the responsibility of a non-profit organization serving as a fiscal agent for a citizen media initiative?

A. For New Voices funding, the nonprofit organization is the grantee and is responsible for ensuring that the promised scope of work is fulfilled. The nonprofit organization is also responsible for overseeing how all the funding is spent and for issuing, and certifying the accuracy of, any narrative and financial reports required under the New Voices grant. If a charitable organization is serving as a fiscal agent for a proposed citizen media project, it must submit a letter attesting how it will fulfill its responsibilities and how the proposed project fits its mission.

Q. My project is associated with a religious institution. Is it eligible for New Voices funding?

A. Religious organizations may receive grants for non-sectarian, community information purposes only. Proposals to proselytize or to promote the tenets of a particular religious belief will not be considered.

Q. What if the users or contributors of my Web site use the site for their own advocacy campaigns?

A. New Voices requires funded sites to provide an open, neutral forum for information, dialogue and debate within a targeted community. As long as the project managers monitor content and safeguard against any abuses by users, the opinions expressed by users should not affect funding.

Q. I’m under 18, but I have a great idea for a site that will help my community. Can I apply for a New Voices grant?

A. Your project could eligible to apply for New Voices funding if you have a formal affiliation with an educational institution, religious institution, community group or other non-profit organization that agrees to serve as your sponsor.

Q. When you say “community,” do you mean that New Voices projects must be limited to a specific city, town or neighborhood?

A. New Voices funding is available to help start news initiatives that target either geographic communities or defined communities of interest.

Q. Are international projects eligible for New Voices funding?

A. Both the recipient of a New Voices grant and the project funded by that grant must be based in the United States for the two-year duration of New Voices’ funding. Funded projects, however, are free to encourage participation from residents of any country.

Q. I want to launch a project in a language other than English. Will New Voices fund my project?

A. New Voices projects are intended to educate others who may wish to undertake similar projects and to provide templates that others may replicate or further develop. All grant applications and reports must be submitted in English. To achieve the broadest educational reach, funded projects must also make all news and information available in English.

Q. If my project is thriving at the end of the two-year New Voices project, will New Voices or the Knight Foundation provide additional funding to keep it going?

A. No. New Voices grants are intended only to help start new projects, not sustain them. Key to a successful grant application is a realistic plan for sustaining the project after the start-up funding is spent.

Q. What are indirect or overhead costs?

A. Indirect or overhead costs are usually percentages of incoming grants deducted by organizations to help cover some of their general operating expenses, such as their administrative costs or facilities and maintenance expenses. New Voices grant money may not be used for indirect or overhead costs.

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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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