McCormick Foundation and J-Lab Award $56,000 to Women-Led News Projects

Four original news start-ups, conceived and led by women, were awarded $14,000 each through the McCormick Foundation's New Media Women Entrepreneurs (NMWE) initiative, in partnership with J-Lab. This is the sixth year of the program, and to date it has awarded grants to a total of 24 innovative women-led ideas with an amazing success rate. (See McCormick Foundation: Grants for Journalism.)

The winners include an initiative to "tell the nation's cultural, historical and personal food stories in video, audio and text"; an e-platform with profit sharing for long-form women writers; a program to promote coverage of the Latino community in New England; and a website covering women musicians who help shape the music industry.

Each project is given $12,000 over the coming year, with an additional $2,000 when matching funds are raised by the respective project. J-Lab's executive director, Jan Schaffer, explained the program's success rate thus far. "To date, 100 percent of our winners have launched and 72 percent are still going strong. These awesome women have established significant track records with their eye on niche opportunities."

Past winner Erin Polgreen also testified to the importance of the New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative. "For women entrepreneurs, that first bit of funding is an ignition point that increases public interest in the product and launches the entrepreneur herself as an expert and innovator. The financial and networking support this program provides makes it possible to innovate and create truly creative media solutions."

Winners for these grants are selected yearly, and the deadlines and applications can be found on the NMWE website. All the women whose projects are funded will blog about their progress on the website so that others can get a close-up, inside view of what happens after the projects launch. Past winners also can be viewed here.

The program seems to gather steam each year, with no sign of abating. This growth is good news for all those aspiring women entrepreneurs who haven't yet submitted ideas. If that's you, then start looking into it for the next round of applications. Says Clark Bell, McCormick's journalism director, "The great ideas just keep on coming." (Read Clark Bell's IP profile.)