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SPJ Foundation awards grants to Wildfire Media, Center for Sustainable Journalism, NEFAC


Matt Morris, SPJ Development Officer, 317-920-4784,
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists Foundation is helping fund Wildfire Media’s Spark Training Program with a $15,000 grant.

Spark is an intensive educational course designed to teach grant writing and fundraising skills to journalists, documentary professionals and students to support their investigative reporting pieces. The program will be online, with interactive classes complemented by one-on-one project mentoring by award-winning journalists and fundraising experts.

“Finding funding is a big concern in the journalism industry today, which is why the SPJ Foundation is enthusiastically funding this creative program to assist with those challenges,” SPJ Foundation President Irwin Gratz said. “The Spark Training Program amplifies what we as an organization are aiming to do — help build journalism’s future. Wildfire Media has created a compelling program to help journalists succeed and plan for their futures. I am looking forward to seeing the great work these journalists, documentarians and students are able to produce when they have the ability to find necessary funding.”

The structured, three-month training program from Wildfire Media aims to teach participants quickly how to fundraise effectively. The first Spark training cycle of 2022 will begin taking applications for scholarships in November and will be vetted by a jury of professional fundraising and journalism experts. Fifty percent of the scholarships are reserved for candidates who identify as people of color, LGBTQ, women, first-generation immigrants, military veterans and rural candidates.

“Wildfire is overjoyed to be selected for an SPJ Foundation grant,” said Board Chair of Wildfire Media John Christopher Anderson. “With the dramatic changes in the media and documentary industry, there is an even greater need to help independent content creators chart their own course to financial survival. Wildfire believes the best solution is by providing resources and training to level the playing field and create equity for all storytellers. We are honored by a grant that validates our growing programs and approach to modeling solutions especially from such a notable, well-respected peer organization as SPJ.”

The SPJ Foundation is also helping fund the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University and New England First Amendment Coalition each with a $2,500 grant.

The grant will assist the Center for Sustainable Journalism in creating the Georgia’s premiere “teaching hospital” of journalism in which Kennesaw State students will produce real news for a real audience in a professional newsroom environment. It aims to answer the dire need for local and state news reporting in the state. The students’ work will be published on a digital-first local news website that puts innovation and student experience at the forefront, while filling a reporting gap left in the wake of legacy news.

In collaboration with the SPJ New England professional chapter, NEFAC will be producing short tutorial videos that explain various aspects of the federal Freedom of Information Act and state public records and open meeting laws. The SPJ Foundation believes that training in FOI is critical, and these tutorial videos will have a broad audience of both journalists and the general public.

“This year’s grant recipients will provide necessary education to journalists across the country. We as a Foundation are happy to support Wildfire Media, the Center for Sustainable Journalism and the New England First Amendment Coalition in their important efforts,” Gratz said. “Journalism is essential, and these training programs will ensure that professional journalists and students can grow their skills to be stewards of the profession and provide a much-needed service in their communities.”

The SPJ Foundation grants primarily support SPJ and provide support to organizations and causes that further the Society’s mission. Grant requests are first reviewed by the Foundation Grants and Awards Committee and then their recommendations are sent to the SPJ Foundation Board of Directors for their review and selection.

Grant applications are open multiple times a year. View previous recipients and learn more about the application process.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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