Best Buy Foundation: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: The Best Buy Foundation prioritizes 21st Century Learning for teenagers, including a commitment to hands-on media engagement.

IP TAKE: The Best Buy Foundation funds grants to both national and community-based non-profit organizations providing technology skills to teens. The foundation refreshingly recognizes many ways to provide these skills and has a recent track record in funding journalistic organizations and programs. The caveat: grantseekers should make sure their program work is within 50 miles of a Best Buy location.

PROFILE: The Best Buy Foundation is the philanthropic branch of the consumer electronics big box store, Best Buy Co., Inc. It seeks to “open the door to opportunity with technology training and tools that transform underserved teens from consumers to creators – a new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, designers and dreamers.” The foundation funds national and community grants and a grant exclusive to Minneapolis.

Best Buy’s National Grants provide awards typically in the $100,000 - $200,000 range to organizations whose work spans multiple cities. The foundation “prefers” those cities to include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Jersey City, New York, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Antonio, San Francisco/Bay area, Seattle, Washington D.C. and others within 50 miles of a Best Buy location. Eligible organizations are 501(c)(3)s with established out-of-school time programming, or programming with a “proven track record” serving teenagers. Funds are only for program support, not general operating costs. New grantseekers should consult Best Buy’s Eligibility Quiz to determine whether they qualify.

Community Grants support nonprofits working locally and regionally. Amounts average between $5,000 and $10,000. Eligible organizations must be a public or nonprofit community-based organization. (The foundation cites community centers, schools and libraries as examples.) Again, organizations and program work must occur within 50 miles of a Best Buy location, and funds are only for program support, not general operating costs. The Community Grants Eligibility Quiz is here.

Through its Twin Cities Fund, the foundation provides a community grant exclusively for Minneapolis, the location of Best Buy’s corporate headquarters.

What distinguishes this funder more is its narrow student age-group focus, which is limited to teens aged 13 – 18, and an explicit emphasis on media production skills. The foundation looks for programs that “transform underserved teens from consumers to creators.” While journalism isn't explicitly on that list, digital photography is, as is audio production, videography, website design, and mobile app development. The foundation stresses that its list is just a starting point for ideas.

Past National Grants to organizations engaged in journalism went to Common Sense Media ($150,000) and Youth Radio ($125,000). Past Community Grant recipients include: $10,000 to the Children's Media Project (Poughkeepsie, NY); $7,500 to Street Level Youth Media (Chicago, IL); $6,000 to Reel Grrls (Seattle, WA); $4,000 to the Youth Speak Collective (Pacoima, CA).

Best Buy grant opportunities are open to all who wish to apply. Application deadlines occur throughout the year, and new grantseekers should consult the FAQs and Guidelines pages before applying.

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