Winners of our first round of grants include, top, from left: Keldy Ortiz, Makeba Green, Kei-Sygh Thomas and Jialiang Pan; and bottom, from left: Julianne Chiaet, Lawrence Wu and Jeanette Beebe.

Center for Cooperative Media awards nine grants to New Jersey journalists for AAJA, NAHJ, NABJ, NAJA and NLGJA events

There’s still time to get your application in, too! More details are below the list of grantees

Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media
5 min readMay 24, 2018

Earlier this year, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University launched a new grant fund dedicated toward helping New Jersey journalists attend trainings, events and conferences in 2018 put on by organizations that work toward improving diversity, equity and inclusion in media.

Such organizations include the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and NLGJA — The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.

We’re thrilled today to announce the first round of grant recipients!

The grant provides stipends of $500 on average for these local journalists to attend eligible events. The funding for these grants is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Local News Lab Fund, a partnership between Democracy Fund, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

Below you’ll find bios of our first nine grant winners. We expect to announce our next round of grantees in June.

Our first 9 grant winners

Jeanette Beebe is an independent radio and digital journalist who covers public health, tech, and the politics and policy that propel health care. Her reporting regularly appears in The Daily Beast and on NPR station WHYY. A Pushcart- and Best New Poets-nominated genderqueer writer, she’s currently a dual-genre MFA candidate (creative nonfiction & poetry) at the Vermont Center for Fine Arts. Jeanette has a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University. Jeanette will attend the NLGJA national conference.

Julianne Chiaet is a science and technology journalist currently working with Mic’s branded content team. She has been published in Scientific American, The Guardian (Guardian Labs), The Daily Beast and more. Julianne graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelors degree in journalism and media studies and a minor in Japanese. She currently serves as the AAJA New York chapter vice president and will be attending the AAJA national conference.

Makeba Green is a college student, photographer, film producer, writer, author and business owner. She started a nonprofit when she was 13 years old to provide mentorship to the next generation of leaders. She’s a co-franchise owner Of TAPinto Hillside with her partner Ebrima N’dure. Makeba will attend the NAHJ national conference.

Jennifer Kim is a multimedia journalist at Spectrum News NY1 in New York. She is currently an associate producer. She previously worked for “The Call,” a live viewer interactive nightly show that focused on the day’s biggest news story and heavily incorporated viewer’s opinions via social media and phone calls. She started as a news assistant and worked on the assignment desk as a researcher, assignment editor, and planner. She will attend the AAJA national conference in August.

Keldy Ortiz is a reporter at The Record/ He covers crime, breaking news and whatever comes his way. Previously he worked at the New York Daily News, where he did similar things including a stint covering two men who escaped from a prison in upstate New York. Ortiz has lived in Portland, Texas and Connecticut working in news organizations. He is fluent in Spanish and will be attending the NAHJ national conference.

Jialiang Pan is a master’s student in Business and Economic Reporting at New York University. He is originally from China. Before he joined the program, he did a number of internships in both China and the U.S., including at the Washington D.C. bureau of China Daily USA, the Beijing bureau of The Wall Street Journal and at the Beijing bureau of The New York Times. This summer, he will intern on the Money desk of USA Today in Los Angeles. Jialiang will attend the AAJA national conference.

Rory Pasquariello is a journalist in Hudson County whose writing is published by the Hudson Reporter. He will attend the NAJA national conference.

Kei-Sygh Thomas is a student and freelance writer, and a Newark native. Her work has appeared in USA Today College, The 74 and New Jersey Tech Weekly. She has recently been selected to attend a student journalism conference with The Nation, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S. Kei-Sygh will attend the NABJ national conference.

Lawrence Wu is a producer at National Public Radio for the shows How I Built This and TED Radio Hour. A recent graduate of New York University, Lawrence has also appeared on a This American Life episode. He will attend the AAJA national conference.

There is still time to apply!

And good news in case you didn’t know about this opportunity: You can still apply! We will keep the application window open through June 15. But don’t wait; get your applications in today, funds are limited!

Click here to submit a request.

Note that the stipends can be used to cover registration, travel costs or member dues related to the event. If you need more than $500, let us know that, too, so we can consider the request.

Eligible events could include, among others:

And also note that the grants can be applied to more than just the events and organizations listed above; you will be asked to indicate which training or conference you’re applying for funding for on your application.

I mentioned some of the larger organizations that focus on increasing diversity in media in this post; if you’re looking for more info on this subject or want to find other institutions and opportunities for training, conferences and mentoring, check out this Journalism Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tracker spreadsheet (it’s incredibly useful!).

The stipends are open to journalists of all backgrounds.

To qualify, journalists must:

  • Reside or work in New Jersey.
  • Provide proof of employment in media, or proof of being a student studying journalism or a related field.
  • Detail which event they’re like to use the grant to attend.
  • Agree to share information about what they learned after the event, for the benefit of others in the New Jersey ecosystem.

Stipends will be awarded on a rolling, first-come, first-serve basis and we will close the window for application on Friday, June 15 at 5 p.m.

We’re hopeful that we can provide funding for more than two dozen local journalists to attend events that will help them further their careers and improve the New Jersey news ecosystem.

For more information, or if you have any questions, let us know. Drop me an email at

Stefanie Murray is the director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact her at

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Democracy Fund. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit



Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media

Director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.