OVERVIEW: The Ford Foundation has a longstanding history of supporting journalistic endeavors with a very high standard of quality. It is particularly concerned about issues of inequality and look to support journalism that "educates, challenges mindsets, and inspires people" from perspectives that are often excluded from traditional reporting. In 2015, Ford shifted its grant making to focus primarily on issues related to inequality, while still maintaining its existing initiative on Creativity and Free Expression.
IP TAKE: Ford's grantmaking interests for journalism are fairly broad, and their initial submission process is simple, so it's definitely worth a try, especially if your focus is on social justice and/or inequality. There's lots of funding available especially for documentaries through JustFilms.
PROFILE: Ford makes grants in journalism, but it does not have a specific journalism grantmaking program. Just about every single journalism grant awarded out of Ford was done so under the different initiatives belonging to the foundation's Creativity and Free Expression program. The goal of this initiative is to support Social Justice storytelling in fields like documentary, emerging media and journalism. JustFilms is a subcategory of the Creativity and Free Expression program focusing on documentary films.
Despite its recent reorganization, the foundation continues to support documentary and emerging media as well as journalism, along with the protection of free expression. In 2016, the Global Investigative Initiative Network received $400,000 in grant to promote and produce investigative and computer-assisted journalism.
Out of the initiatives that award journalism-related grants to U.S.-based organizations, 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.
If your journalistic medium is documentary film, you should explore Ford's JustFilms initiative. Beginning in 2010, the JustFilms initiative focuses on filmmakers that work to bring attention to social issues around the world. If you want to peruse the completed work of past JustFilm grantees, check out Fords grants listing and film collection. JustFilms grants' goal is 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."
Some recent 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.
Ford has an excellent website, and explorations of funding opportunities should begin there. The first step in applying for a grant is to complete this short form.
- Elizabeth Alexander, Director, Creativity and Free Expression
- Cara Mertes, Director, JustFilms, Creativity and Free Expression