Applications open for grants to fund civic science journalism collaborations
Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and Rita Allen Foundation partner on pilot program
The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is delighted to announce a new grant opportunity in partnership with Rita Allen Foundation. The project aims to accelerate civic science journalism cross-field collaborations in the United States by providing small grants and coaching.
The grant opportunity is based on a global research project conducted in 2020 and 2021 by the Center that studied how and why journalists and civil society organizations around the world collaborate to achieve and increase impact.
The research team at the Center, led by Dr. Sarah Stonbely, found that journalists have become more willing to partner with civil society organizations in order to achieve tangible impact on issues such as corruption, governance, climate and environment, and human rights.
Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stonbely and the research team analyzed 155 cross-field collaborations, involving 1,010 organizations, based or working in 125 countries around the globe. For civil-society actors, partnering with journalism organizations brings added benefits such as the ability to circulate their findings more widely and in a greater variety of formats; i.e. important findings are now translated into narratives and visual projects in addition to the traditional white paper.
Building on this research with a goal to advance civic science journalism cross-field collaborations in the United States, the Center is partnering with the Rita Allen Foundation — which invests in discoveries in their earliest stages in biomedical research, civic science, and philanthropic practice. Through its work in civic science, Rita Allen seeds networks to accelerate learning, inclusion, and impact to ensure that science, evidence, and public engagement help to inform solutions to society’s most pressing problems.
Today, we announce an open call to solicit ideas for new civic science journalism collaborations and projects. A total of 10 grants of up to $15,000 each will be awarded.
This opportunity is meant to fund short-term pilots, not long, multi-year partnerships.
Projects will be prioritized that:
- Emphasize meaningful collaborations between civic science and journalism organizations to achieve shared purpose, including building awareness of civic science issues and potential solutions.
- Involve community engagement with the intended audiences and are relevant to communities, particularly communities where new or deeper engagement with science has the potential to be transformative.
- Have the potential to be a catalyst for future collaborations.
The Center will host two webinars in February and early March to share more about cross-field collaboration and civic science, and answer questions about the grant opportunity. The application will ask applicants to secure their partners before applying — however, the Center will do its best to facilitate collaborators, if needed and possible, ahead of the deadline.
Zoom: Cross-field and civic science journalism collaborations
We'll discuss cross-field collaboration and civic science journalism during this webinar and answer any questions you have.
Once the grantees are selected, the Center will host monthly calls to help foster a sense of community among the cohort and learn from each other’s work. Additionally, the Center will survey the grantees to surface areas where additional support, coaching or training may be needed and will provide it.
The open call deadline is March 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT.
⭐ Click here to see the application.
⭐ Click here to sign up for a webinar.
⭐ Click here to sign up for a 1:1 discussion to ask questions about the grant opportunity or get feedback about your idea.
Questions? Email the Center at email@example.com.
We’ve tried to answer as many frequently asked questions (FAQs) as we could anticipate. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, let us know. Email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is eligible to apply?
The lead applicant for the grant must be a U.S.-based 501c3 nonprofit organization conducting work primarily in the United States or have a fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based nonprofit organization.
A civic science partner should be a civil society organization that is working to advance a culture in which science is strengthened through connection to people across diverse issues and experiences; or an organization working to ensure that science, evidence, and public engagement help to inform solutions to society’s most pressing problems. This includes NGOs, universities, civic tech and arts organizations, among others.
A journalistic partner should be a media-making organization that regularly produces original news content digitally, in print or broadcast. The journalistic partner should ideally not be a startup and should have a track record of producing high-quality, accurate, and ethical reporting. This may include news outlets, media organizations, or other entities that are dedicated to informing the public about current events and issues of public interest.
Credentials may be required if you are selected for a grant and we cannot independently verify your identity. If you have questions about eligibility, contact us at email@example.com
I’m a freelancer. Can I be a partner?
Yes, as long as you have an affiliation with a civic science and/or journalistic organization that is documented. Grant applicants must be United States-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations conducting work primarily in the United States or have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor. (Note: Grants will be made to organizations, not individuals.)
What can I use the money for?
The awards are intended to cover the cost of the applicant’s and co-collaborator’s time, project materials, equipment and associated production/editing costs to complete the project.
The Foundation supports only United States-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations conducting work primarily in the United States. In addition, the Foundation’s funds can be used only for purposes that are consistent with its status as a charitable organization. Excluded purposes include, but are not limited to, lobbying activities.
How much money can I apply for?
The grant opportunity will allow for awards of up to $15,000 per project. The collaborators need to decide amongst themselves how to allocate the grant between each other. One grant will be made to the lead organization, and the lead organization will be responsible for disseminating the money among the partners as needed. The lead organization must be United States-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization conducting work primarily in the United States or have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor.
I would like to apply, but I don’t have a collaborator in mind.
We strongly encourage applicants to seek their own collaborators when possible. However, the Center will do its best to connect collaborators together as well. Email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will I be notified of my application status?
As soon as you apply, you’ll get a confirmation email that includes a copy of your application.
The window to apply will close on March 17. Applicants will be notified in May.
What is the grant period?
The grant period for all grants will be June 1, 2023 through November 30, 2023. Projects must be completed and funds spent within this timeframe.
What paperwork will you need from me to disburse the grant?
Grantees will work directly with the Rita Allen Foundation to complete grant agreements, arrange disbursement of the grant, and to complete grant reporting at the end of term.
Required financial documents for 501(c)(3) grant applicant and/or fiscal sponsor:
- Project budget (showing how the grant funds will be spent)
- Organizational budget
- Audited Financial Statements (most recent available, substitutions will be accepted with prior approval)
- Form 990 (most recent)
- IRS Tax Determination Letter
Can I apply for more than one project?
Yes, you can, but we encourage you to focus on one project to make it the best it can be.
What if I need more money than the maximum amount?
To be able to support a range of projects, the maximum is $15,000 per project. If you need help figuring out how to rein in the cost of your effort so it’s more affordable, the Center is happy to help. Email email@example.com.
How will you judge applications?
A review committee of external judges will read all applications and rate them based on the following questions:
- Does the collaboration proposed focus on civic science, as defined above?
- Does the project emphasize meaningful collaboration between journalists and civil society organizations to develop new relationships and perspectives that advance civic science?
- Does the project meaningfully engage underserved communities?
- Does the project have the potential to be impactful on its intended audience? Or to help contribute to greater understanding of the barriers to collaboration and impact?
- To what extent does the project involve community engagement with the intended audience?
- Are at least one civic organization and one journalism partner named in the proposal?
- Does the journalism partner have quantifiable and significant reach to the intended audience?
- Does the civic organization partner have a commitment to the concept of civic science?
- How do the organizations advance diversity, equity, inclusion?
- Is the proposal right-sized for the requested amount?
- Are the project costs clear, credible and realistic?
What are my reporting responsibilities if I am awarded, and accept, an award?
The grantees will be asking to take a pre-project survey and an end-of-project survey. Additionally, you will be asked to submit a final report on how the project went, its outcomes and lessons learned. Last, the Center will interview select grantees for a final report to be published publicly about this overall effort.
Where can I learn more about civic science?
The following resources are a starting point to learn more about civic science, the growing civic science network, and inspirations for this collaborative, emerging body of research and practice.
- The Civic Science Imperative
- What Is Civic Science?
- Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda
- The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication
- The Public Face of Science in America
- Civic Science Fellows Program
- How Science Philanthropy Can Build Equity
- The State of Inclusive Science Communication: A Landscape Study
What if you haven’t answered my question in these FAQs?
Email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org
👋 Want to learn more about collaborative journalism?
You can subscribe to our collaborative journalism newsletter for more updates and information. And of course, 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.
Stefanie Murray is the director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact her at email@example.com.
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.