Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy Awards Grants to News Organizations Led By and For Communities of Color

Monday, April 6, 2020

Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy Awards Grants to News Organizations Led By and For Communities of Color

The Racial Equity in Journalism (REJ) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy has awarded $2.3 million in grants to 16 news organizations serving communities of color across the country.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic and the sometimes overwhelming stream of information makes clear the need for trusted news sources that prioritize the needs of underserved communities, who will be among the most impacted,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “During times of crisis, critical resources, supplies and attention are mostly aimed at the advantaged. The Racial Equity in Journalism Fund will bolster a strong, diverse, and independent media sector serving the public interest, at a time when communities of color need these outlets the most.”

The REJ Fund, launched in September 2019, seeks to bolster the capacity and sustainability of news organizations led by people of color and partners in equity in order to increase civic engagement for communities of color.

The Fund’s inaugural grantee cohort all serve audiences who have been historically underserved by mainstream media: Black, Native, and Latinx people, immigrants, refugees, rural communities, and poor and low-income people. Grantees also represent a wide range of geographic areas throughout the country: California, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and the Northern Great Plains region. Recognizing that journalism takes on many forms, the Fund is resourcing news organizations utilizing a variety of mediums including print, digital, radio, video, and more. The Fund also prioritizes investment in local media and outlets in news deserts—outlets that have always been essential and are especially critical during a public health crisis.

“The value of our voices in media has nothing to do with fairness or the abstract concept of “diversity.” It is about the survival and the legitimacy of the national media landscape,” said Michael Harriott, senior writer at TheRoot.com and co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com. “When our voices are excluded from America’s narrative, it means, by definition, the world only knows one side of every story. This is about more than equity. It is about accuracy.”

The REJ fund prioritizes investment in media outlets providing timely and important news to communities who are most undeserved and who face the greatest barriers in receiving public affairs information. In order to best reach these communities, REJ Fund grantees are developing innovative approaches, including delivering news via WhatsApp and text messaging, training citizen journalists, hiring engagement reporters, and branching out into podcasts, zines, and community events...