Earlier this month, Borealis Philanthropy announced the launch of the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, a pooled fund to increase the capacity and sustainability of news organizations led by people of color, and to increase civic engagement for communities of color.

Margarita Rubalcava, president of Borealis, and Farai Chideya, a program officer with the Ford Foundation, a partner in the fund, presented the new initiative at an MIF funder networking event at last week’s Online News Association’s conference in New Orleans.

“We can’t have excellence and strength of reporting when media is a “mirrortocracy,” Chideya said at the funder meet-and-greet. “We need to support both diversity in media and outlets led by people of color, as the new Racial Equity in Journalism will.”

According to a statement released by Borealis, the fund will prioritize:

  • Organizations with a depth and length of commitment to community engagement
  • Efforts to provide timely and important news to communities most underserved and facing the greatest barriers in receiving public affairs information
  • Organizations developing creative and innovative ways to reach the communities they serve

Data from Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar), analyzed by the Democracy Fund, show that just 6 percent of the $1.2 billion in grants invested in journalism, news and information in the U.S. were directed to efforts to serve specific racial and ethnic groups. With these findings in mind, Borealis has commissioned a landscape analysis to better understand the gaps and opportunities. The findings, Rubalcava said, will be available next month.

“The Fund will support grantees to increase streams of revenue, develop innovative ways of delivering information, scale up impact and expand reach to new audiences, and adapt infrastructure to the internet and social media,” Rubalcava said.

To date, the fund has raised $3.6 million and will begin making grants to nonprofit and for-profit outlets in early 2020.

“There is urgency to this fund,” Chideya added. “In this election cycle, there will be misinformation targeting people of color. As I frequently remark, ‘As go people of color, so goes the nation,’ so we have to be on fire about this.”

Other partners include the Democracy Fund, the Google News Initiative, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and the News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and CUNY.

Go to http://bit.ly/REJFund to learn more.

Join us for a webinar from noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, to discuss the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund and other philanthropic efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion. Register.

About the Author
Nina Sachdev

Nina Sachdev

Communications Director

Nina Sachdev brings more than 15 years of journalism, news editing and marketing experience to her role as the communications director for Media Impact Funders. She cut her teeth in journalism at The Dallas Morning News, where—as an intern on the copy desk—she was tasked with editing the obituaries of famous people who hadn’t yet died. Since then, Nina has worked at The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, The Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Weekly in almost every editorial capacity imaginable, including senior editor, A1 editor (when that used to be a thing) and slot (does anyone remember that being a thing?). Nina is the creator and editor of the award-winning The Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse, which exposes the reality of healing from the effects of sexual abuse. Nina holds an M.A. in journalism from Temple University.