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$2.4 Million Awarded to 9 First Amendment Legal Clinics to Support and Defend Local Journalists

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In September 2022, the Legal Clinic Fund for Local News announced $2.4 million in new multi-year grant awards to 9 grantees that will provide critical legal support to local newsrooms and journalists across the country.  The grantees are all university-based legal clinics that seek to advance and defend first amendment rights, media freedom, and transparency in their communities.  The grantees received funding to increase their capacity to serve more journalists and expand their impact. The 2022 grantees include the following with new grantees marked with an asterisk:

  • Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic 
  • Duke Law School First Amendment Clinic* 
  • Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic 
  • Tulane University First Amendment Law Clinic* 
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico Faculty of Law’s Access to Information Clinic 
  • University of Buffalo Civil Liberties & Transparency Clinic 
  • University of California Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic 
  • University of Georgia School of Law First Amendment Clinic* 
  • Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law Filmmakers Legal Clinic 

Since inception, the Fund has awarded $5.46 million in grants to 12 partner clinics. The Fund is a collaborative effort to address growing threats to journalists and the lack of access to legal support that can undermine vital reporting, particularly at the local level. The fund supports the growth and sustainability of university-based legal clinics. The Fund continues to prioritize organizations that are working in service of local communities and publishers, and helping address local, regional and state issues.  

The Fund is currently supported by Democracy Fund, The Klarman Family Foundation, and Solidarity GivingThe Miami Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for the Fund. Past partners of the Fund include The Abrams Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation. Expert advisors from the field help drive the strategy and investments from the fund. The current advisors include Jonathan Manes (Attorney at the MacArthur Justice Center and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law), Christa Scharfenberg (former SVP at American Journalism Project), Nabiha Syed (CEO of the Markup), and Lillian Ruiz (Co-Founder of the National Trust for Local News). 

“This Fund is a catalyst for the expansion and sustainability of existing clinics that provide increased legal resources and representation for newsrooms and journalists, especially for those who are least likely to receive it from traditional sources,” shared Josh Stearns, the Senior Director of the Public Square Program at Democracy Fund. “Ultimately, the Fund seeks to ensure that any local newsroom or journalist that needs legal support can access it.” 

Interested partners can learn more about the incredible impact the Fund’s legal clinic partners are having by reading a report from the collaborative: Stories of Impact from the Legal Clinic Fund. Included in the report are stories of how the Fund’s first two cohorts of legal clinics are supporting local journalists and making an enduring impact on the landscape of First Amendment rights nationwide.   

For questions about the Legal Clinic Fund, please contact the Fund Administrator, Lindsey Linzer, Vice President of Community Investments at The Miami Foundation at LLinzer@miamifoundation.org