Why Journalists Should Get to Know the Abrams Foundation

photo: GaudiLab/shutterstock

photo: GaudiLab/shutterstock

If you work in journalism in any medium, you should check out the Abrams Foundation, the philanthropic vehicle of David and Amy Abrams. Founded in 1997, it has three areas of concentration: journalism and narrative, arts and creativity, and access and opportunity. While Boston-area institutions and organizations like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Year Up, and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston have been previous grantees of this funder, its main focus is currently on keeping rigorous journalism alive and well. As we’ve reported, there was a “Trump bump” in nonprofit news funding after the 2016 election, and it appears to still be going strong.

Here are the programs the Abrams Foundation is funding as part of its journalism initiative and the only undertaking currently described on its website:

The Abrams Nieman Fellowship for Local Investigative Journalism

The Abrams Foundation partnered with the Nieman Foundation, which works “to promote and elevate the standards of journalism,” to create this program. It provides up to three fellowships for U.S. journalists working in local news and includes two semesters at Harvard University followed by up to nine months of supported fieldwork and reporting. It is open to news people in any medium—TV reporters, freelancers, radio journalists, podcast editors, daily newspaper reporters, etc. While the deadline has passed for 2018-2019, more information can be found on the Nieman site.

Amy Abrams, Abrams Foundation president and Nieman advisory board member, said in a statement:

Since its inception, the Nieman Foundation has inspired generations of talented reporters and editors through its transformative yearlong fellowship. Now, the Abrams Nieman Fellowship is piloting an approach that focuses attention on underserved news markets, providing enhanced educational opportunities for journalists and increased resources for investigative reporting.

ProPublica Grants

The Abrams Foundation is helping ProPublica give yearlong fellowships for investigative reporting along with supporting the independent news organization’s expansion into Illinois.

“One of the most important things we can do is increase awareness about the need for and benefits of nonprofit journalism—that is, to add to the usual American philanthropic checklist of schools, hospitals, churches, and cultural institutions the possibility of donating to journalism,” Richard Tofel, president of ProPublica, recently told Inside Philanthropy.

The FRONTLINE Dispatch and Fellowship

The Abrams Foundation “supported the development, launch, and production” of FRONTLINE Dispatch,” which is a podcast that went live in 2017 and brought the PBS/WGBH investigative journalism documentary series “into the audio space.” WGBH is a previous Abrams grantee. The Abrams Foundation also backs a FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism Fellowship. It offers Columbia Journalism grads the opportunity to work at FRONTLINE for a year. These fellows produce transmedia projects for FRONTLINE combining text, photography, graphics, video, and audio across broadcast and digital platforms.

Operational Support for Other News Projects

The Abrams Foundation also provides operating support to the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, and the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering America’s criminal justice system.

Visiting the websites of the partner organizations is the best way to learn more about these Abrams-funded opportunities in journalism.