Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund


The purpose of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is to increase the quality, outcomes and reach of journalism in the region, with an emphasis on engagement, innovation and the equitable recovery of Detroit. The Fund, through its grantmaking program, will seek to advance quality journalism while reflecting the perspectives of diverse constituencies including people of color, women and low-income communities.


The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund was launched in March 2017 as a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The Fund is part of a $2.3 million overall strategy by the Knight Foundation to expand local reporting in Detroit and Southeast Michigan and involve community residents in telling the story of Detroit’s future.

The Knight Foundation is currently supporting five nonprofit media organizations with a total of $1.475 million. They include: Detroit Public Television (DPTV), Detroit Public Radio (WDET), Michigan Radio, New Michigan Media and the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine.

Since 2013, members of the cooperative have combined their resources to produce multimedia projects and coverage about Detroit’s recovery. With the new investment, the cooperative will begin a new effort to connect the voices of Detroit’s residents with watchdog reporting coverage to help residents better address their concerns. New support from Knight Foundation, which works to strengthen local journalism nationwide, will continue the work of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative into 2018.

The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund seeks to build on this activity by strengthening local coverage with a mix of different projects and approaches designed to help journalists engage community residents in the reporting process. The fund will also help support the digital transformation of local news organizations by supporting journalism innovation and new digital tools.

To this end, the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund has launched a new grantmaking program to advance quality journalism and reflect the perspectives of diverse constituencies including people of color, women and low-income communities.  It in anticipated that there will be two rounds of grants – one on late 2017 and one in late 2018.

This grantmaking program is built upon learnings from an initial scan of the Detroit Journalism Landscape.

A summary of that scan can be found here.

In addition, thanks to the Ford Foundation investment, the Fund is further investing in New Michigan Media and its partner organizations, which include: the Arab American News, the Jewish NewsMichigan Chronicle, the Michigan Korean Weekly, and the Latino Press.

There are two ways to get involved with this fund: participate in educational workshops (which will be launched in 2018), and/or apply for a grant. See below for more information.




The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund will award $220,000 through a first round of grants in late 2017. While we do not have a set grant range, applicants should be aware that the larger the amount requested, the more competitive the pool will be. Applicants should base the amount requested on the scope of the project.

Who May Apply

The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund will make grants to either media-specific organizations or to community organizations that are proposing to do this work in collaboration with a media partner. Detroit Journalism Cooperative members are eligible to apply if it is for a project not already receiving Knight or Ford Foundation support, and if the project is being done in collaboration with a community partner that is not a member of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Applicants must be located in and/or serve southeast Michigan, with a preference toward a focus on the city of Detroit. Applicants must be 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations or organizations that have a strong fiscal sponsor. Organizations must have an independent certified financial audit or a completed Form 990 (indicating tax exemption status).

Note: We do not make grants to individuals, sectarian religious programs, or to cover deficits or other previously incurred obligations.


November 6, 2017: Application deadline! Completed proposals must be submitted via link below by 11:59pm.

November to December: All applications will be reviewed during this time. Project staff may contact the applicant to request additional information if necessary.

December 1, 2017: Grant decisions and award information will be shared with applicants. If a grant is approved, the award letter will be sent by the end of the year. The first payment will be made in January 2018, conditional upon receiving signed terms of grant agreement.

December 11, 2017: Awards will be publicly announced.

How to Apply

Steps in applying to the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund are as follows:


The grantmaking priorities for the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund are to promote diversity in journalism, strengthen community engagement and promote equitable journalism. While these are our priorities, we are not prescriptive in what your project should be. We welcome all kinds of ideas and we encourage collaboration on projects that will help advance the field. We are primarily looking for projects that will yield lessons and best-practices for the field of journalism and encourage reporters and editors to think differently.

Review the Grantmaking Guidelines

After reviewing these guidelines, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Community Foundation to discuss a proposed project before submitting a proposal. Organizations can call 313-961-6675 and ask for Lenzi Abma, Program Officer.

Whether or not you decide to proceed with an application, we welcome the opportunity to learn more from you about the issues and opportunities in related to journalism and engagement in Detroit.


Once you’ve reviewed the grantmaking guidelines and spoken with a program officer, it’s time to start your grant application.

Applications Are Now Closed


You can return to your application at any time via the link below.

Return to Your Draft Application


Throughout the span of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, we will offer several workshops to share tools and strategies for improving audience engagement in journalism in the region. The workshops will feature national organizations and innovative products.

If you would like to be added to the email distribution list to receive notification when workshops are scheduled, please provide your information here:


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:

Lenzi Abma

Program Officer

313.961.6675, ext. 134