Pictured: The five lead applicants for our Peer Fund grantees. Left: Shennell McCloud, Karshan Ruffin. Middle: Krystle Allen. Right: Jeff Billingsley, Kimberly Valene Reid.

5 projects awarded a total of $45K in Newark through Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund

Kenneth Miles
Oct 19, 2020 · 4 min read

When we announced an opportunity for funding to support collaborative journalism projects in Newark back in August, we weren’t sure what to expect.

It was a busy time, as parents were prepping for a return to school and summer was winding down. The funding was tied to applicants’ ability to address information need gaps identified in the city by Outlier Media, and it required collaboration—two things we knew wouldn’t be easy.

That’s why I’m thrilled today to announce that out of 17 strong applications, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University has awarded five Newark projects a total of $45,000 in funding as part of the Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund.

The Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund is an initiative to support peer learning among journalists and foster collaborative news efforts in U.S. cities. The Peer Fund is facilitated by the Center and supported by Democracy Fund. In Newark, the collaborative reporting project awards are supported by The Nicholson Foundation and Victoria Foundation.

Recipients of the awards are expected to address at least one of the information gaps found in Outlier Media’s report, which used information from a text-based survey and data from 211 (did you know, New Jersey uses 211 more than any other state?) in its information needs analysis. The report found that severe information gaps exist in Newark when it comes to information about COVID-19, food, shelter and utilities. These grants will support projects that directly address those and other needs identified in the survey.

All applications were judged using an objective and subjective scoring system. The objective scoring rubric prioritized women, people of color, Newark residents, and those who identified as having a high financial need. The subjective scores were judged by Alexandra Bernard Simmons, founder, and CEO of Think Like a Boss; Tyneisha K. Gibbs, founder, and principal of 144th & Vine LLC; and Manny Faces, a Newark-based content creator and podcast professional.

Congratulations to the following list of awardees; condensed descriptions of their projects are below. I’ll be working with each over the coming weeks to help refine their projects and get them going. Look for these projects to be launched over the next several months. If you have questions or want to get involved, email me at mrkennethmiles@gmail.com.

Newark Community News

Applicant: Jeff Billingsley, Cobblestone Multimedia
Proposed project:
Newark Community News (NCN) will create a platform and experience for city residents to share their lived experiences, concerns, and solutions while they navigate life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic through storytelling. NCN will capture video, audio, editorial, and photography content.

Proposed collaborators: Teshaun Glover, publisher of The Newark Times; Brit Harley, Community Engagement Reporter at WBGO

Seasonal resource and opportunities fair

Applicant: Krystle Allen, Eyes Like Mine
Proposed project: The Seasonal Resource and Opportunities Fair will give individuals access to information related to the quality of life through virtual and in-person sessions, exhibiting adaptive technology for residents with disabilities and seniors.

Proposed collaborators: Brit Harley, Community Engagement Reporter at WBGO

Project Ready Community News

Applicant: Shennell McCloud, Project Ready
Proposed project: Project Ready Community News will build a media/content distribution network that informs Newarkers on Project Ready’s critical areas of focus education, civic engagement, social justice, physical and mental health wellness, and housing insecurity.

Proposed collaborators: Tommy Luna, Education Activist; Amirah Lawson, Racial and Social Justice Educator; Havana Terborg, Youth Organizer.

International Youth Organization’s ‘News 4 Newark’

Applicant: Karshan Ruffin, International Youth Organization
Proposed project: The International Youth Organization will facilitate a project that aims to bridge the information gap between communication networks in Newark. The IYO “News 4 Newark” project will be a 30-minute news program with three or four segments per show, with a goal to air weekly on Newark’s Public Access Channel 19.

Proposed collaborators: 211 Community Impact; The H.U.B.B..

¡Oye! Project

Applicant: Kimberly Valene Reid, KV Communications
Proposed project: ¡Oye! Project will work with local organizations to create a central information bank available via text and audio on key topics in multiple languages.

Proposed collaborators: Multiple.

👋 Want to learn more about collaborative journalism?

You can subscribe to our collaborative journalism newsletter for more updates and information. And of course, we invite you to visit collaborativejournalism.org to learn more about the topic of collaborative journalism — including our growing database of collaborative journalism projects, which is currently being updated.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair…