Published on July 6, 2023
MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is pleased to announce the new grantees for its 2023 funding cycle. With a total of $2,870,696 in grants, the Consortium is supporting projects that will improve the quantity and quality of civic information in New Jersey communities and better meet the information needs of low-income communities and ethnic communities that have been underserved by the media.
The approved grants include:
— 17 grants to support proposals from the 2023 open call, totaling $1,356,966.
— 18 renewal grants to support current grantees, totaling $1,513,730.
In addition, the board approved a $600,000 project to provide revenue and sustainability coaching, as well as small technology grants, for 20 news organizations across the state, as well as a bump-up grant of $25,000 for one of its 2022 grantees. The revenue and sustainability coaching program will launch in early 2024.
The Consortium received an impressive number of applications this funding cycle, reflecting the strong interest in supporting local journalism in the state. The Consortium considered 71 total applications (including open call and renewal applications) and awarded 35 grants. Together, these grantees represent the diversity and creativity of the New Jersey media ecosystem, and the Consortium is confident that they will have a significant impact on the state’s communities.
“We are thrilled to support these innovative projects that will help strengthen local journalism in New Jersey,” said Board Chair Christopher J. Daggett. “The grantees are tackling important issues in creative ways, and we look forward to seeing the results of their work.”
“Since joining the Consortium in January, I have met with each of the current grantees and I look forward to meeting all of the 2023 applicants,” said Program Officer Ayinde Merrill. “I have been impressed with the commitment, enthusiasm, and passion they bring to their efforts to provide residents with the information they need to understand, participate, and succeed in their communities.”
The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium was established in 2018 by the State legislature and governor to support the sustainability of local news and information in the state. It has received State budget appropriations in fiscal 2021 ($500,000), 2022 ($2 million), 2023 ($4 million), and in the 2024 budget just signed into law on June 30 ($4 million). The Consortium is governed by a board of directors representing academia, media, government, and civil society.
After a rigorous review process, the projects listed below were selected. For more detailed information about the 2023 grants and the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, please visit njcivicinfo.org/grantees.
Atlantic City Focus – $100,000 – Atlantic City (Atlantic County) – This grant will fund a project to create a Civic Engagement Guide for Atlantic City that provides residents with a comprehensive directory of information on local elections, community resources, and leadership.
Camden Parent & Student Union (CPSU) – $100,000 – Camden County – CPSU will train Camden high school students in interviewing and media reporting so they can become community reporters and storytellers. The grant also will fund voter education programs and training.
DataSourceNJ Inc. – $50,000 – Statewide – With an operating prototype in place, DataSourceNJ is developing a repository to collect, clean, host, integrate, analyze, and present data and resulting insights to local investigative journalists, community activists, small businesses, academicians, and students.
VietLead – $48,000 – Camden County – VietLead’s Jersey Roots Youth Program aims to collaborate with its Resilient Roots Farm Project to hold neighborhood listening sessions in the 2023-2024 growing season and to learn about what local issues are top of mind for its Black, Brown, and Southeast Asian neighbors who live, work, and play in East Camden neighborhoods of Camden City.
Camden Fireworks – $64,460 – Camden County – Camden FireWorks will undertake a community-centered storytelling project in Camden documenting the challenges and opportunities of living a long, healthful life amidst environmental injustice by interviewing, facilitating discussions, and documenting the personal narratives of community members.
Civic News Company – $100,000 – Essex County – Civic News Company subsidiary, Chalkbeat Newark, seeks to foster civic engagement in the city’s public schools through: 1) in-depth reporting on school segregation litigation and federal Covid relief spending; 2) adding a state education policy reporting fellow; 3) a texting service to inform the community about school board actions; 4) a 2024 school board election guide; 5) first person student essays published through Chalkbeat Newark’s Student Voices program.
Corporation for New Jersey Local Media – $86,459 – Morris County – This grant funds the continuation of the work of the Northern NJ News Collaborative on its “Stormwater Matters” initiative and will grow community engagement.
New Labor – $100,000 – Middlesex County – This grant will fund a project, titled the “Community-driven Journalism Project”, to develop journalists, focusing on Black and Brown workers in low wage jobs across New Jersey.
Industry Media Arts – $99,720 – Ocean County – This grant will fund a Journalism Mentorship Program that provides high school students with early awareness and readiness training for undergraduate collegiate journalism programs.
Montclair State University Foundation – $92,070 – Statewide – This grant will fund the making of the 2023 NJ Statewide Voting Guide, which will help encourage civic engagement. Citizens will also have an interactive opportunity to vote their choices on statewide and local issues.
Center for Cooperative Media – $100,000 – South Jersey – This grant will support the expansion of the South Jersey Information Equity Project from a cohort of 5 to 10 fellows annually and establish an SJIEP community reporting workshop series to further engage local storytellers through intergenerational learning and co-creation workshops.
Muslim.co – $100,000 – Statewide – This grant will fund a media publication centering Muslim news, with coverage affecting the New Jersey Muslim community. New Jersey contains the highest percentage of Muslims to the state population in the United States.
NJ Coalition to End Homelessness – $99,200 – Statewide – This grant will support NJCEH in their efforts to expand their reach and enhance the impact of Garden State Leaders, a statewide leadership and advocacy training program for NJ residents with lived experience of homelessness and poverty. The funds will enable them to formalize their ongoing statewide support and outcome tracking, and to pilot a local leadership program in collaboration with the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness for replication in other counties.
Wayne Hills High School – $10,991 – Wayne Hills (Passaic County) – This grant will fund the creation of a podcasting studio and support the digital journalism program for students in Wayne Township.
WNET NJ Spotlight – $100,000 – Statewide – This grant will support the hiring of a D.C.-based correspondent who can provide regular reporting to NJ Spotlight News and collaborative network of newsrooms across the state on developments affecting New Jersey.
Central Desi – $81,066 – Mercer County – This grant will fund a fellowship opportunity that will cultivate college students as future journalists in New Jersey and train them to report, write, and engage with local communities by covering the South Asian American community.
NJ Advance Media – $25,000 – Middlesex County – This grant will fund the creation of a Journalism Talent Pipeline for aspiring journalists who are of color or from an underrepresented community. Nationally, journalists of color make up less than 17% of newsrooms and just 13% of newsroom leadership.
Asbury Park Media Collective – $72,660 – Asbury Park (Monmouth County) – This grant funds a small community newsroom in Asbury Park focused on grassroots-led local news reporting and media literacy that inspires and supports civic engagement. The project has focused on live streaming city council and board of education meetings in Asbury Park.
Black in Jersey – $100,000 – Camden County – Black in Jersey is a reliable news and information hub serving New Jersey’s Black communities and its launch of its incubator program featuring Millennial and Generation Z-led news services — including the Hotspot Podcast.
The Ridgeview Echo – $100,000 – Blairstown (Warren County) – The Ridge View Echo News Project works to keep residents informed and engaged in the community of Blairstown. The publication updates residents and property owners on vital and timely government announcements regarding their health and safety, provides them with an outlet to advertise community events, and welcomes opinion pieces.
The Jersey Bee – $100,000 – Essex County – The Jersey Bee (previously Bloomfield Info Project) uses journalism and education to work with community members to produce news and storytelling that meets local information needs, inspires civic participation, and builds narrative power.
The NJ News Commons Spanish Translation Service – $75,000 – Statewide – The NJ News Commons Spanish Translation News Service is a collaborative project between English- and Spanish-language local news outlets in New Jersey to make the best English-language statewide reporting available and accessible to news organizations that serve Spanish-speaking communities in the state.
Front Runner New Jersey – $100,000 – South Jersey – Front Runner New Jersey brings a new perspective on the people, events, and issues making an impact on African Americans in Atlantic City and south Jersey. Front Runner highlights the stories and people of Atlantic City to bring a restorative perspective to news and information reporting.
Hammonton Gazette – $21,800 – Hammonton (Atlantic County) – The Hammonton Gazette Inc. is southern New Jersey’s premier independent weekly newspaper. Their Spanish publication “Noticias” goal is to reach as many people as possible and to make news coverage more representative of Hammonton’s residents and communities. With the launch of Noticias in 2021, The Hammonton Gazette was the first local newspaper to offer news articles in Spanish (Mexican Dialect).
Trenton Journal – $100,000 – Mercer County – The Trenton Journal focuses on addressing the disparities faced by the Black and Brown community in Trenton. The Trenton Journal’s goal is to amplify local voices and perspectives by publishing solutions-based journalism through newsletters and community engagement.
Morristown Green – $80,000 – Morristown (Morris County) – MorristownGreen.com is an online newspaper serving Greater Morristown. Created and led by former Star-Ledger reporter Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green covers a robust range of topics that include local government, arts and entertainment, crime, and sports. Morristown Green is a trusted source of information for the greater area of Morristown.
Movimiento Cosecha – $100,000 – South Jersey – Radio Cosecha is an immigrant-led news organization that serves Spanish-speaking communities of NJ. Cosecha researches and delivers important local, national, and international news in an accessible format, in order to achieve greater civic participation within New Jersey’s immigrant community.
Newark News and Story Collaborative – $100,000 – Newark (Essex County) – Newark News & Story Collaborative is a team of Newark residents, young people, content creators, and organizers who commit to acts of journalism. They produce unique coverage of issues affecting diverse Newark communities that are not covered by traditional media and partner and train city residents to tell stories that capture the true essence of the city.
South Jersey Climate News Project – $24,270 – South Jersey – This is a program at Rowan University that provides high quality news coverage of climate change in South Jersey, including the impact on the environment, agriculture, the Pine Barrens, beaches, tourism, and wetlands. The grant will cover stipends for student interns.
Newark Water Coalition – $65,000 – Newark (Essex County) – This grant funds an oral history program to tell the stories of the advocates who worked to address lead contamination in Newark’s drinking water.
Saint Peter’s University – $100,000 – Hudson County – Slice of Culture (SoC) is a group of young BIPOC storytellers who want to bring civic engagement to Jersey City and Hudson County through a series of how-to projects and informational stories targeted to immigrant families and communities of color. It is opening doors to aspiring journalists who are committed to strong, local journalism and stories that matter to the community.
Unidad Latina en Acción NJ – $100,000 – Statewide – The Radio Jornalero NJ Communication Project brings together the development, production, and dissemination of public service announcements from the Jornalero and Domestic Laborer Communicators. Their focus is to cover and broadcast topics that affect the daily lives of their community members with an emphasis on voting, housing, and workers rights.
WNET/NJ Spotlight – $100,000 – Statewide – This project expands NJ Spotlight’s health coverage by focusing on mental health in underserved communities at the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic, health inequity, and rural New Jersey.
New Jersey YMCA State Alliance – $100,000 – Statewide – New Jersey’s YMCA State Alliance project identifies public health and policy priorities from the lived experiences of NJ residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and develops strategic dissemination plans that enhance access to documented stories, promote information-sharing, and strengthen communities.
Hopeloft, Inc. – $75,000 – Cumberland County – Hopeloft’s Follow Local News project actively recruits, trains, and equips youth/citizen journalists to write for its local news site, FollowSouthJersey.com. There is no experience required because Hopeloft has developed a curriculum to train and coach youth over the course of a 15-week internship program.
Public Square Amplified – $25,000 – Newark (Essex County) – This grant will continue to support Public Square Amplified’s community journalism training program. This program recruits and trains community reporters and journalism students and provides an outlet for their work on Caribbean, African, Indigenous, and immigrant communities.
For more information about the Consortium, please visit our website at njcivicinfo.org.