Sunlight Foundation: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: This funder has provided $5,000 to $10,000 grants to journalists and organizations that help make government more accountable and transparent.

FUNDING AREAS: Journalism, government accountability and transparency

IP TAKE: Solutions for technology-driven transparency and making government data more available are what has caught this foundation’s attention. A citizen-engagement component doesn’t hurt either.

PROFILE: The Sunlight Foundation's mission is to open up government globally and make use of technology to make government more accountable to everyone. Not surprisingly, journalism plays a significant role in this mission. Sunlight is a nonpartisan organization that promotes use of technology, open data, policy analysis, and journalism to improve the role of government.

The foundation was launched in April 2006 with a $3.5 million donation from co-founder Michael Klein. More recent contributions for this group’s work come from the Bloomberg Family Foundations, Ford Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and many other funders we cover at IP.

This foundation has awarded one-time grants between $5,000 and $10,000 to help make government more transparent and accountable. Previous Sunlight grantees have included Councilmatic 2.0, Centros de los Derechos del Migrante, Committee for a Better New Orleans, and Detroit Ledger. Journalism grants have been awarded to Open WNC and the Vermont Journalism Trust in the past. You can view a list of past grantees here.

In addition to grantmaking, Sunlight works with journalists, bloggers, and activists on research projects and training. Data-based journalism techniques are used by Sunlight writers to address political influence and transparency issues.

This is a national funder, but it regularly awards grants to groups that have a local or regional focus. Past grants have gone towards training journalists to improve public data access in underserved parts of the country, like rural Appalachia. One grant created a searchable database for campaign finance matters with all the tech features needed to be effective. The foundation’s reporting is often cited by the world’s top journalists. Sunlight’s work reaches local, national, and even international levels.

Contact the foundation staff to learn about the current status of its grantmaking program. Prior grant guidelines and grant FAQ can be viewed online for reference. Only applicants based in the U.S. have been considered for grants. Previously funded projects include civic innovation tools, apps or websites; tools that enable the media, bloggers, developers and citizens to sift, share and combine data; efforts to collect municipal, state or federal data; or projects that extend the capabilities, scope or reach of Sunlight’s own tools or data.

General inquiries can be submitted via the online contact form. You can also keep up with their interests and activities through the foundation blog.  

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