New Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund

In Press Release

Two projects receive more than $2.3 million in funding to support local news: the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund

Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan partner to create the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund


DETROIT— March 8, 2017—Two projects totaling more than $2.3 million were announced today to expand local reporting in Detroit and Southeast Michigan and involve community residents in telling the story of Detroit’s future.

The two, funded separately, are:

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will support 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 this new grant, 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. The cooperative began with financial support from Knight Foundation and Ford Foundation; together the foundations have provided a total of $1.5 million in funding to the cooperative over the last three years.

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: Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan have launched the $900,000 Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund. The fund aims to strengthen 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 will launch a new grant-making program of more than $500,000 to advance quality journalism and reflect the perspectives of diverse constituencies including people of color, women and low-income communities. In addition, the fund will invest in New Michigan Media, a network of leading ethnic and minority newspapers that is a partner in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. It will promote the efforts of New Michigan Media members to broaden their reach and deepen connection to the communities they serve.

The fund will also support regular workshops and convenings of media partners and the journalism community in Detroit to exchange best practices and learn about other successful journalism and engagement models that might be replicated in Detroit. The fund will be administered by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“Building on the success of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and investing in an engagement fund will help to create a new model for quality local journalism. The lessons these projects generate can support Knight’s nationwide efforts to ensure that local news organizations have the ability to create relevant and important journalism that reflects the concerns of community residents,” said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit.

“The Ford Foundation is thrilled to continue its support to New Michigan Media’s innovative consortium of Arab-American, Jewish, African-American, Hispanic and Korean community news organizations, and to join with Knight and the Community Foundation in the new fund that we hope will spur more reporting on the importance of an equitable recovery for all of Detroit’s neighborhoods,” said Barbara Raab, Ford Foundation program officer.

“The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund will seek to increase the volume, quality and diversity of the reach of local media, and will create more innovative, consistent and effective ways of partners communicating and learning from each other,” said Katie Brisson, vice president, programs for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “Detroit citizens and policymakers will have a greater understanding of the issues of importance to the diverse communities within the region.”

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 $892 million through more than 59,500 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more, visit