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April 30, 2020

Apply Now for North Carolina COVID-19 news and information grants

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From Here

A response to COVID-19’s effect on North Carolina’s community information needs by supporting our local news ecosystem

Addressing a new reality

The COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina underscores the necessity of accessible, quality local news and information while undermining the future of the organizations who are helping us understand this moment and keep ourselves safe. 

In response to the critical need for reliable, quality, local information about health, the economy, and support services from the government, non-profits, and business, we saw a manifest need to fund news organizations as part of immediate crisis response

Expanded media deserts and weakened local news and information networks will make this current crisis worse and allow for future harm to communities, starting with those who have been systematically left out, marginalized, under-served. According to research by Clara Hendrickson of the Brookings Institute using data from Penny Abernathy’s work at UNC Chapel Hill, 50 percent of the counties reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases are news deserts.

Our response 

This grantmaking initiative is both an attempt to address both the short-term operating needs of these organizations and the threat the pandemic represents to North Carolina residents, our communities’ public health, and our civic infrastructure. 

To best serve those needs, we will be awarding general operating grants of up to $30,000 to 501c3 public charity non-profit entities that serve North Carolina residents and their rapidly evolving information needs. General operating grants will provide organizations the flexibility they need to respond to the needs of their communities at this moment. 

For-profit organizations with a 501c3 public charity non-profit fiscal sponsor are also welcome to apply for a project-specific grant of up to $30,000. Those projects should reflect service of communities  news and information needs and our funding priorities to be considered. 

Our capacity and our hope to expand support

We have $300,000 to grant during this round, and we know that isn’t enough to fund the work that needs to be done for our state right now or the volume of grant requests we anticipate.

We welcome more partners to join us in funding reliable, accessible reporting and information for North Carolina residents through contributions to our pooled fund at The North Carolina Community Foundation or coordinated funding that meets community information needs. 

Our funding priorities 

We will prioritize funding organizations and projects that reflect:

  • Equitable ways of working with and for people and communities through listening, learning, direct engagement, and transformative approaches to service
  • Diversity of team and service of marginalized people, communities, and geographies, including North Carolina’s media deserts, low-wealth communities, communities of color, rural communities, native communities, and communities disconnected by the digital divide, language, and literacy
  • Little-d democractic goals, including free and fair elections, community connection, and topics like public health, mutual aid, and public accountability.
  • Efforts to build on existing organizational strengths by expanding access to the work beyond current audiences
  • Diversifying and earning revenue for your organization*
  • Outcomes that will move more than one organization forward

*this priority is focused on applications from 501c3 public charity applicant organizations. Fiscally sponsored projects undertaken by for profits must adhere to a charitable purpose. 

What we’re not looking for:

  • New beats without community demand and support
  • Building an elaborate new capability from scratch
  • Training for training’s sake
  • Consulting that fills an operational gap without building capacity within the organization

Grant Application Requirements:

  •  501c3  public charity nonprofit in good standing with the IRS or fiscal sponsorship from one 
    • Note: for profit entities seeking the fund’s support are encouraged to imagine how their work could be bolstered by partnerships with community nonprofits in news and information and in other community-serving disciplines like public health, food, housing, and education and begin conversations accordingly
  • Application (outline available here)
  • Budget documentation
    • Past and current year operating budgets required
    • Project budget required for fiscally sponsored projects proposed by for-profits
    • We offer downloadable budget templates in the application for organizations to use, if they choose
    • Note: the maximum grant award for this round will be $30,000 to maximize the number of grants we’re able to deploy.
  • Reporting to NCLNL Fund on grant learning and impact, including a potential site visit

Timeline & Process

How our process will work:

  • Application available online with NCCF May 1, see instructions below.
  • Webinar to answer q’s on May 5 (register here), with office hours available during application period.
  • Our one-page application is due by June 15 at noon.
  • Review by expert panel July 1-17. 
  • Grantees reviewed by board and announced by July 31.
  • Grants processed checks mailed by August 14.

Application Instructions:

All applications must be submitted electronically, using the NC Community Foundation’s (NCCF) online grant system.  Below you will find instructions for how to do so, and a link to the online system. Be sure to read these instructions carefully before you begin.

First, you must create an account profile.  If you need assistance with creating your account, please click here to view the training slides.  If you have previously applied for your organization via the NC Community Foundation application system, you may use that existing profile and log-in.

  1. Once your profile is created, you will be directed to your Applicant Dashboard.  Click the green “Apply” link at the top of the page.
  2. You will arrive at a page with information about applying for a grant from NCCF.  In the upper right-hand corner, you will see an “Access Code” box. In that box, type the word: localnews.  Then, click on the Enter Code button.  NOTE: The Access Code is case-sensitive.
  3. The page will refresh, and the information about applying to the 2020 NC Local News Lab Fund Grant Program will appear.  Click the blue Apply button to begin.
  4. Follow the instructions to complete the application form, and submit it.  You will receive a confirmation email once your application has been submitted.
  5. A printer-friendly version of the questions is available to you once you have set up an account and entered the portal for this program.

If you experience technical difficulty while accessing and using the system, contact tech@nccommunityfoundation.org.  For questions about the program and application, please contact Lizzy Hazeltine at lizzy@localnewslab.org.  

Ready to Apply? Click Here to enter NCCF’s online system.

*Please note that Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are the preferred browsers for the online application system.

Questions about supporting local news or this call? Email Lizzy Hazeltine, lizzy@localnewslab.org.