Press release

New Jersey Civic Information Consortium and Community Foundation of New Jersey partner to house local Press Forward chapter

Published on Feb. 21, 2024

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MONTCLAIR, NJThe New Jersey Civic Information Consortium (the Consortium) and the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ) proudly announce their collaboration to house the New Jersey chapter of the Press Forward initiative. This partnership marks an important step in the advancement of local news and civic engagement across the Garden State. 

Press Forward is a national movement to strengthen American democracy by revitalizing local news and information. A coalition of funders is investing more than $500 million to strengthen local newsrooms, close longstanding gaps in journalism coverage, advance public policy that expands access to local news, and scale the infrastructure the sector needs to thrive. 

Press Forward Locals are a network of chapters across the country where funders bring new donors and foundations together to expand resources for local news. These chapters are an opportunity for funders to create place-based initiatives, driven by the specific information needs of their communities.

“The challenge of rebuilding America’s local news landscape is vast, and will depend on multi-layered solutions at the national and local levels, including through these local chapters,” said Dale R. Anglin, Press Forward’s director. “Thankfully, as I learned as a grant maker in New Jersey early in my career, local journalists and funders have been working diligently to ensure their communities’ information needs are met.  In this continuing journey, we’re thrilled that New Jersey is joining Press Forward as one of our newest local chapters, to identify authentic approaches for the state.”

Over the last several years, the Consortium has been the lead funder of news and information in New Jersey, investing more than $5.5 million in both private and public money for 82 grants awarded to 52 grantees across the state. 

As the home of Press Forward New Jersey, the Consortium and CFNJ plan to build a coalition of aligned funders and stakeholders and deepen the work of supporting a healthy, diverse news and information ecosystem across the state. The Consortium is dedicated to providing financial resources to support and grow trustworthy, community-based news and information sources throughout New Jersey. 

“We are thrilled to partner with the Community Foundation of New Jersey to establish Press Forward New Jersey,” said Chris Daggett, Board chair and Interim Executive Director of the NJ Civic Information Consortium. “This collaboration underscores our shared commitment to promoting quality journalism, amplifying diverse voices, and empowering residents with the information they need to meet their daily needs and participate fully in civic life.”

“The Community Foundation of New Jersey is excited to join forces with the Consortium as the NJ chapter of Press Forward,” said Hans Dekker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of NJ. “By collaborating with local stakeholders and investing in the future of journalism, we can ensure that New Jerseyans have access to trustworthy, community-driven news and information that reflects the rich diversity of our state.”

Gov. Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature, whose leadership paved the way for the creation of the Consortium, have provided a public funding model that has garnered widespread interest and attention. Their dedication to fostering a robust and inclusive media ecosystem in New Jersey has laid the groundwork for meaningful collaboration and innovation in the realm of journalism and civic engagement. 

The Consortium is also grateful for the partnership of Democracy Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — both of which have invested heavily in the Consortium, its partners and grantees — as well as the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, whose long-term leadership investing in equitable access to news and information has transformed New Jersey news and laid the groundwork for the success seen today. 

“My first job out of college was covering the police department and school board for my hometown south Jersey newspaper – a newspaper that no longer exists,” said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, vice president of communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Press Forward New Jersey will play a vital role in ensuring that New Jersey residents are informed about, and engaged on, the decisions that will impact their families and communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is honored by the opportunity to support this effort.”

Currently, the Consortium has 46 active grantees providing local news and information to residents in communities across the state. The grants range from supporting start-ups and young news outlets, including Atlantic City Focus, Black in Jersey, Public Square Amplified, Trenton Journal, The Jersey Vindicator, Slice of Culture and The RidgeView Echo, to fellowship and mentorship programs including Industry Media Arts, the South Jersey Information Equity Project and the Newark News and Story Collaborative

The Consortium is proud to have recently funded a statewide Documenters program  hosted by two nonprofit organizations (with a third to be announced shortly), community reporter certificate programs launching this year at four New Jersey community colleges, and an intensive sustainability program for 21 local news organizations run by Blue Engine Collaborative. The Consortium also supports a statewide D.C. correspondent and has funded Report for America fellows for NJ Spotlight, as well. 

In the spirit of collective action and collaboration, the Consortium and CFNJ extend an open invitation to partners and stakeholders in the field of journalism, media literacy, and civic engagement to join Press Forward New Jersey. Over the coming months, the Consortium and CFNJ will host a series of virtual and in-person meetings with partners and stakeholders about the work of Press Forward New Jersey. To join the coalition, please email [email protected].

“As we embark on this journey, the Consortium and CFNJ are eager to explore opportunities to partner with other like minded organizations in New Jersey,” said Therise Edwards, Vice Chair of the Consortium. “Together, we can leverage our collective strengths and resources to effect positive change and build a brighter future for generations to come.”

About the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium: The Consortium is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that funds initiatives to benefit the State’s civic life and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s communities. A first-in-the-nation project, the Consortium builds on the foundation laid by public media in the United States, and reimagines how public funding can be used to address the growing problem of news deserts, misinformation, and support more informed communities.

About the Community Foundation of New Jersey: The Community Foundation of New Jersey creates and scales custom solutions for purpose-driven individuals, families, and businesses. The Community Foundation’s team of specialists understand the unique contours of communities and manage the scope of the Community Foundation’s investment and grantmaking capabilities with precision. With $790 million in assets, the Community Foundation grants tens of millions of dollars each year through its more than 1,160 funds. In 2023, the Community Foundation granted more than $150 million to nonprofits in New Jersey and beyond.

About Press Forward: Press Forward is a national movement to strengthen our democracy by revitalizing local news and information. A coalition of funders is investing more than $500 million to strengthen local newsrooms, close longstanding gaps in journalism coverage, advance public policy that expands access to local news, and to scale the infrastructure the sector needs to thrive. For more, visit pressforward.news.