New “How-To” Guide For Funders Offers Tips on Journalism and Media Grant Making

Created For and By Foundations, the Booklet To Launch at National Council on Foundations Conference April 11, 2011

Responding to growing interest in the philanthropic sector and a need for quality local news and information, a new, easy-to-use guide offers ways for funders to get started in journalism and media grant making.

“With local newsrooms shrinking, and technology changing how we connect to information and each other, funders are doing more journalism and media grant making,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and co-author of the report, available at

“This new guide offers tested programs and insights, from the foundations already doing this work to the foundations now thinking about doing it.”

Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need to Know, Five Ways to Get Started was created by Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation and was written by Newton and journalism consultant Michele McLellan. It is written for foundations with little or no experience in this area.

The authors will lead a discussion on the topic at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, April 11 during a session at the Council on Foundations’ conference in Philadelphia. The session will be live blogged at, and discussed using the Twitter hashtag #infoneeds. 

Dozens of foundation leaders offered their experiences for the guide – resulting in a booklet that is rich with anecdotes and project examples, including ways create a public interest news service or to run a contest to find new voices. It also helps foundation grant makers understand key journalism values such as editorial independence.

“Foundations are beginning to realize they need good information about important community issues to reach their strategic goals, and that they can’t take that information for granted anymore. Philanthropy needs to play a leadership role in helping to provide it,” said Feather Houstoun, president of the William Penn Foundation.

While the booklet was developed for foundation grant makers and other philanthropists, journalists and publishers might benefit from reading the tip book since it will encourage that sector to bring innovative thinking and ideas to foundations that may consider entering this growing area of philanthropy.

The guide is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to encourage other funders to support projects that inform and engage communities. The Knight Community Information Challenge, for example, offers matching funds to community and place-based foundations that support news and information projects. More at

Watch foundation leaders talk about the issue on video, and download a copy of the report at


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit

About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community.  In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just, and caring community.  Learn more about the Foundation online at

Contact: Sharon Gallagher, 215-209-3075;

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit