The Fund for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, is inviting applications for its grants to support journalists who do in-depth coverage of issue concerning their localities. Investigations involving government accountability, environmental issues, or local issues with national implications are encouraged. Watchdog reporting for ethnic media is also encouraged.
The Fund for Investigative Journalism was founded in 1969 by the late Philip M. Stern, a public-spirited philanthropist who devoted his life “to balancing the scales of justice,” in the words of a friend. Stern was convinced small amounts of money invested in the work of determined journalists would yield enormous results in the fight against racism, poverty, corporate greed and governmental corruption.
Stern’s theory proved true in the Fund’s first year when a tiny grant of $250 enabled reporter Seymour Hersh to begin investigating a tip concerning a U.S. Army massacre at the Vietnamese village of My Lai. A subsequent Fund grant of $2,000 allowed Hersh to finish reporting the story.
Worth of Award
- The maximum grant is $10,000. Grants cover out-of-pocket expenses such as travel, document collection and equipment rental.
- It is FIJ policy to pay the first half of approved grants to successful applicants, with the second half of the grant paid on publication of a finished project in accordance with the original proposal and within the agreed deadline (generally, one year after the grant is issued). All application documents must be written in English and budgets expressed in U.S. dollars.
- The Fund also considers requests for small stipends, as part of the budget.
- With the generosity of the Scripps Howard Foundation, FIJ has the ability to provide mentors to a select number of grant recipients. You will be able to apply for a mentor during the grant application process.
- To be considered, foreign-based story proposals must come from US-based reporters or have a strong US angle, involving American citizens, government or business.
- All stories must be published in English and have a media outlet in the United States.
- FIJ’s Board of Directors looks for stories that break new ground and expose wrongdoing – such as corruption, malfeasance, or abuse of power – in the public and private sectors.
FIJ encourages proposals written for ethnic media as well as those submitted by journalists of colour.
How to Apply
- The Fund for Investigative Journalism accepts online applications
- Your estimated budget must itemize expenses of reporting such as travel, document fees, equipment rentals, and small stipends. Be specific. Vague line items may be denied. Identify other sources of funding.
- If you are applying for a book grant, provide detail as to resources available from the publisher, and explain why a grant is needed.
- Before you apply, be sure to obtain a “Letter of Commitment” from a news editor who can pledge in writing that the news outlet will publish or air the specific story you propose – as long as it meets the publication’s expectations and standards.
- This letter should not be thought of as an unqualified pledge. If the work is not satisfactory, the news outlet cannot be expected to publish it. FIJ needs this commitment before it makes a grant because it doesn’t have the capacity to help reporters place stories. The letter must be written on letterhead that includes contact information for the news outlet and the individual signing it.
- If you are book author applying for a grant, a signed book contract from a publisher serves as the commitment.
- To apply for a mentor: FIJ accepts requests for mentors as a part of the application process. FIJ recently updated its roster of mentors and encourages applications. To be eligible, answer the questions contained in the application form. Grantees who receive mentors will be expected to advise FIJ once they have made contact with the mentor, and to close out the grant with a brief report on the mentorship.
- Pro bono legal services. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is offering free pre-publication vetting of stories. You will be asked on the application form if you would like to apply for the pro-bono service. Keep in mind that only a limited number of FIJ grant recipients will be selected to participate.
- Executive Director Sandy Bergo welcome questions about the application process and requirements by email, [email protected], or phone, 202-662-7564. Contact them before the application deadline and they will be happy to help. Application materials cannot be changed after they are submitted.
Deadline: The next application deadline will be Monday, September 14, 2020. All application deadlines are set at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, or 8:59 pm on the U.S. West Coast. The Board of Directors reviews and votes on all eligible proposals. Approximately six weeks after the application deadline has passed, applicants will be notified by email of the board’s decision.