Ford Foundation: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: The Ford Foundation has long funded journalistic endeavors with a very high standard of quality. prioritizes issues of inequality and looks to support journalism that "educates, challenges mindsets, and inspires people" from perspectives that are often excluded from traditional reporting.

IP TAKE:  Ford's grantmaking interests for journalism are fairly broad, and its initial submission process is simple. It is definitely worth a try for grant seekers whose focus is on social justice and/or inequality. There is a lot of funding available especially for documentaries through JustFilms.

PROFILE: The Ford Foundation was created in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. It prioritizes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and seeks “a world in which all individuals, communities, and peoples work toward the protection and full expression of their human rights; are active participants in the decisions that affect them; share equitably in the knowledge, wealth, and resources of society; and are free to achieve their full potential.” Ford supports journalism, but it does not have a specific journalism grantmaking program. Instead, almost all of Ford’s journalism grants were awarded under the different initiatives belonging to the foundation's Creativity and Free Expression program. This initiative supports Social Justice storytelling in fields like documentary, emerging media and journalism. JustFilms is a subcategory of the Creativity and Free Expression program that focuses on documentary films.

Ford’s journalism-related grants typically range from between $50,000 to $1.25 million. Projects that receive funding include those that encompass work in all forms of media, including television, radio, video, the internet, and film. 

Grant seekers working in documentary film journalism should explore Ford's JustFilms initiative. Since 2010, the initiative supports filmmakers that work to bring attention to social issues around the world. Its grants seek to "support artist-driven film and new media storytelling projects that explore aspects of inequality, as well as the organizations and networks that support these projects." To peruse the completed work of past JustFilm grantees, check out Ford’s film collection.

Past grantees include the documentary series on inequality: America Divided which received a $500,000 grant and the miniseries on the lives of civil rights activists: Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, which collected a $150,000 grant. In 2016, the Global Investigative Initiative Network received $400,000 in grant to promote and produce investigative and computer-assisted journalism.

Ford has an excellent website, and explorations of funding opportunities should begin there. The first step to apply for a grant is to complete this short form.

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