Media Impact Funders (MIF)—which advances and catalyzes the work of a diverse range of funders committed to media that informs, engages and inspires—has received a two-year $150,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation to expand the knowledge and capacity of funders supporting evidence-based communication.
The Rita Allen Foundation is a leader in the field of civic science, in which broad engagement with science and evidence helps to inform solutions to society’s most pressing problems. As part of that work, Media Impact Funders will engage a growing network of funders interested in questions about evidence-based communication. In addition, MIF will expand the scope of content related to evidence-based communication to include audience engagement, climate change, equity, diversity and inclusion in journalism, the COVID-19 global crisis and other topics related to civic engagement with science.
“There is a growing realization in philanthropy that there is a critical need for sound science to ground civic debate in facts and knowledge,” says Vince Stehle, Executive Director of Media Impact Funders. “There could not be a more critical moment for support from the Rita Allen Foundations for our work to strengthen media that highlights sound science to inform the public, as society faces the most challenging pandemic in more than a century.”
Conversations about evidence-based communications and ideas relating to public engagement with science will be prominently highlighted in MIF’s upcoming programming. On May 26, MIF will be hosting a webinar that highlights the origin of COVID-19 as a case study for understanding the need for evidence-based communications. Reyhaneh Maktoufi, a Rita Allen Civic Science Fellow at NOVA and WGBH, is one of the speakers on that program.
And this year’s Media Impact Forum, happening in June through a series of online discussions, will spotlight philanthropy’s role in supporting media that amplifies the urgent issue of global climate change. The Forum—of which evidence-based communications is a focal point—will feature a discussion on the latest research behind the science of communication and the communication of science. The Media Impact Forum is MIF’s annual flagship event that brings funders together to network, deepen learning and spark collaboration.
“Amid this global health crisis, more grantmakers are recognizing the need to invest in the public’s understanding of science to foster public deliberation that relies on evidence and broader engagement—particularly with populations most affected and most vulnerable,” said Elizabeth Good Christopherson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rita Allen Foundation. ”We are at a crucial moment for new civic science learning and collaboration across sectors to build a more resilient and equitable future.”
This new grant builds on work that MIF and Rita Allen started in 2017, when MIF received a two-year, $125,000 start-up grant from the foundation to organize a working group of funders committed to fostering public engagement with science and evidence. The working group explored emerging multidisciplinary research on effectively communicating about science and facts, and worked to incorporate that research into philanthropic practice, as well as coordinate action to strengthen the role of evidence in public discourse and the information ecosystem. One of the focal points of that grant was the 2018 Media Impact Forum, in which we explored the special role of science in understanding how and when communications and storytelling make a difference. The day before the Forum, we held a smaller meeting for funders to address the particular challenges associated with communicating science.
About the Rita Allen Foundation
The Rita Allen Foundation invests in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to leverage their growth and promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems. It enables early-career biomedical scholars to do pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement, and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. Throughout its work, the Foundation embraces collaboration, creativity, learning, and leadership.
About Media Impact Funders
Media Impact Funders—formerly Grantmakers in Film, Video & Television—began on a volunteer basis in 1984 as an affinity group for funders interested in the power of film to highlight social issues. The group gained momentum in 1990, just as the word “Internet” was being introduced for the first time. Reflecting changes in technology and media behavior over the past decade, it was renamed Grantmakers in Film & Electronic Media (GFEM) and formally incorporated in 2008 to advance the field of media arts and public interest media funding. GFEM was renamed Media Impact Funders in 2012 and has since expanded its strategy to include a broad range of media funding interests such as journalism, documentary film, immersive technologies, media policy and more. Since that time, MIF has grown to more than 80 organizational members representing some of the largest foundations, and holds more than 30 in-person and online events yearly. Go to mediaimpactfunders.org to learn more.