The Park Foundation has long supported efforts in public interest media. It routinely gives millions of dollars each year through a public broadcasting and media program, with grants ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $2 million. So how can your journalism project get at some of this money?
Last year alone, the Park Foundation gave 54 media grants totaling just over $3 million. Though it has been known to give individual gifts in the seven digits, most of its media grants are in the $10,000 to $200,000 range. These gifts are meant to support "public interest media that raises awareness of critical environmental, political and social issues to promote a better informed citizenry in the U.S." The emphasis is on "non-commercial media that is substantive, fair, and accurate."
Media grants are given to projects that involve investigative journalism, media policy, public broadcasting, and documentary films. These grants can take the form of small "lead gifts" for innovative programing, "challenge gifts" that encourage additional fundraising, "last dollars" gifts that help achieve a specifically defined goal, and one-time, short-term gifts to help a project that may be in a financial pinch.
The Park Foundation focuses a large portion of its support on public broadcasting (TV, radio, and online), as well as on public affairs and educational programming. The best way to start out is to check out the foundation's guidelines and application process. They define their program areas as follows:
- Investigative Journalism - "Supports excellence in reporting on nationally-significant public affairs issues in the U.S. Competitive proposals will show evidence of groundbreaking content employing multi-platform media tools with potential to achieve broad distribution and social impact."
- Media Policy - "Supports nationally-significant initiatives that promote fair and open media systems and policies in the U.S. The Foundation supports projects that advance universal access to communications, a 'neutral' Internet, diverse and independent ownership, public interest media and the future of journalism."
- Public Broadcasting - "Supports nationally distributed and aired television and radio programming. Preference is given to in-depth, investigative reporting projects that include diverse, public interest voices and perspectives."
- Documentary Films - "Supports a very limited number of small grants to individual documentary projects related to civil society and democracy, environment and animal welfare. Requests for funding greatly exceed available resources and preference is given to projects with wide distribution and community engagement. Prior to submitting a proposal, prospective applicants should contact the Foundation via phone or e-mail to determine appropriate fit. Please be prepared to provide information regarding content and treatment, distribution, outreach, budget, funding sources (and fiscal sponsorship as appropriate)."
Some examples of projects the Park Foundation funded in 2013 include:
- Free Press ($350,000): General operating support for Public Interest Media Reform and Capacity-Building Support for Free Press Second Decade.
- Democracy Now! Productions ($30,000): Democracy Now!'s live on-the-ground coverage of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.
- Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting ($10,000): Production and distribution of the weekly media criticism radio program, CounterSpin.
- Fund for Investigative Journalism ($50,000): Grants for Investigative Reporters.
- Media in the Public Interest ($20,000): News coverage through the North Carolina News Service.
- Women Make Movies ($250,000): America: COMPROMISED documentary series on institutional corruption.
- Moving Train ($13,000): The public engagement campaign for the documentary, The Human Experiment.
- Free Speech for People ($40,000): Citizens Inspired campaign to overturn Citizens United.
- National Public Radio ($100,000): 2014 Environmental Coverage.
- Center for Media and Democracy ($50,000): Fracking and our Environment.
The best way to start out is to investigate the grants that were made in your area of interest and you can do that here. From there, it's a matter of determining how much you'll be asking for and for what, then composing your letter of inquiry. The Park Foundation helpfully provides all this information on its website here. It should be noted that the remaining deadlines for 2014 are July 7 and September 26, so get cracking and happy hunting!