Nine Journalism Projects Share More than $330,000 in Grants

In Press Release

Nine projects that invite Detroit residents to shape local news and information will share more than $330,000 from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund

To promote quality journalism and ensure local reporting meets community information needs, nine journalism projects, representing collaborations of 18 southeast Michigan organizations, will receive a share of $333,952 from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund. The Fund seeks to address civic concerns by supporting innovative approaches to local reporting and community engagement.

Led by a range of journalism organizations and community nonprofits, the projects focus on highlighting the stories of Detroit residents from all backgrounds, while creating more options for them to shape the local information landscape. They range from a race and justice reporting initiative that highlights issues affecting communities of color to workshops that advance citizen journalism. They all work to promote a better future for Detroit driven by and in partnership with residents, expanding the capacity and impact of those working to create positive change.

The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“To build an even stronger future for Detroit, we need to provide the people who live here with more pathways to voice their needs, highlight opportunities and shape their city. The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is helping to open these avenues by highlighting stories that often go untold and arming people with the tools they need to contribute,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit.

“The Ford Foundation is proud to continue its support for this critical initiative ensuring the voice of Detroiters is heard loud and clear as the city continues its impressive recovery and revitalization,” said Kevin Ryan, Ford Foundation, program officer, Cities and States. “It is an imperative to amplify the stories of the city’s residents so they don’t get lost amid shrinking newsrooms and resources. An informed public is an engaged public.”

This year’s grants include four new projects:

  • $18,020 to the Detroit Free Press, in partnership with Michigan Community Resources, to provide Detroit residents and nonprofits with legal and journalistic expertise to craft Freedom of Information Act requests, which allow people to look at what government does and how it spends public dollars and handle government responses to these requests. Users will have access to experts for collaborative review of the documents and an opensource database for the collected documents will be established.
  • $26,000 to Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) to pilot a Race and Justice Reporting Initiative that will establish a platform to highlight nuanced storytelling, bringing to light issues that impact communities of color. DEAL will select independent journalists of color to write about race and justice issues in Detroit and highlight their work on the platform. The organization, housed at Wayne State University, will use its media networks to publish the articles in more prominent media outlets.
  • $28,332 to Michigan State University, in partnership with Grandmont/Rosedale Development Corporation, to train and equip neighborhood communication volunteers to produce high-quality videos with cellphones.
  • $46,000 to Detour Detroit, in partnership with TechTown, to develop a community engagement strategy and to expand Emerging Voices, a fellowship program designed to tell the story of Detroit’s present and future in the voice of its residents. Detour Detroit is a digital-first local news community designed to help Detroiters access journalism relevant to their lives.


The Detroit Engagement Fund will also renew support to five successful projects launched last year, to help them continue to grow:

  • $54,600 to the Michigan Chronicle, in partnership with ARISE Detroit, to grow a citizen journalism program to cover the lives of Detroit residents in east side neighborhoods. The coverage will appear in the Michigan Chronicle and will focus on social and economic factors in each neighborhood, such as the small business environment and the quality of schools.
  • $76,000 to WDET, in partnership with City Bureau, to expand the City Bureau Detroit pilot, a citizen journalism project and local media partnership to increase awareness and coverage of Detroit’s public meetings. City Bureau is a Chicago-based nonprofit journalism lab that trains journalists to produce locally responsive news coverage.
  • $50,000 to Detroit Public Television, in partnership with Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and the Tuxedo Project, to support the Neighborhood Reporting Initiative and develop infrastructure to distribute information in the Islandview neighborhood. The project aims to empower and sustain local storytelling efforts, as well as expand community-driven journalism.
  • $15,000 to Riverwise Magazine, in partnership with the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for the Nurturing Community Leadership initiative, which seeks to improve and expand storytelling workshops that encourage community members to write for the magazine; the project provides access to a publishing platform for residents and skill-building for citizen journalists.
  • $20,000 to Tostada Magazine, in partnership with Allied Media Projects, to develop a sustainable business strategy and continue to uplift the culinary, social and business impact of minority and immigrant communities through storytelling.


The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund aims to strengthen local news coverage with projects designed to help journalists involve community residents in the reporting process. It supports convenings of media partners and grantees to exchange best practices of successful journalism and engagement models that might be replicated in Detroit. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan administers the Fund.

The fund was launched in 2017 and has provided $650,000 since that time. For more information on the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, please visit

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For over 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. For more, visit

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $1 billion through more than 67,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties.

Learn more about the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund