A project of Democracy Fund

Call for Proposals: NC Local News Lab Fund Disaster Relief Information and Engagement Grants

En español

The North Carolina Local News Lab Fund is issuing a call for proposals for projects that inform and engage the public as communities recover from Hurricane Florence and prepare for a more resilient future in the Eastern North Carolina region.

The North Carolina Local News Lab Fund will provide up to $150,000 in grants to organizations and initiatives around news and information related to hurricane recovery in Eastern North Carolina (ENC). The Fund will consider projects that provide critical information to communities with a focus on collaboration, content, capacity building, and/or community engagement related to recovery and resilience in the region.



  • Call opens: March 25
  • Application Deadline: Submit letters by April 15 at 5 p.m. ET.
  • Application Review: Applications will be reviewed from April 15 to May 14. During that time, we will reach out to your organization if there are any follow-up questions.
  • Application Decisions: Organizations will be notified by May 31 if their grant proposal has been funded. If there are any delays or follow-up questions we will notify organizations that have applied.

Grant Amounts: The maximum grant size is $25,000.


Applicant must be a 501c3 or fiscally sponsored by a 501c3 organization. Preference will be given to projects that are based in or include partners based in ENC and that are led by and serve traditionally underrepresented audiences.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, communities across Eastern North Carolina are beginning to heal and rebuild. Having trustworthy, accurate and timely news and information is vital for North Carolina’s communities as they recover, but, as Melanie Sill wrote in an op-ed in the News & Observer, there aren’t emergency agencies to help the news outlets and to keep information flowing. It is a crucial time for communities that still need important information about recovery when the major networks have packed up and left.

Communities’ information needs are immediate, substantial, and long-lasting when recovering from disasters. Communities also should be involved in the process of recovery, which news organizations and others can help facilitate if they have the resources to do so. This lack of information, oversight and news after Hurricane Matthew led to many communities being overlooked – making Florence’s effects even worse.

What could be funded?

These resources could connect communities with vital information they need at a crucial time as they recover, especially those communities that are often overlooked. Major events like a natural disaster can bring communities and newsrooms together and help people realize how important news and information is. The proposed projects do not have to be new projects if your organization is already undertaking related efforts.

For example, in New Jersey, a recovery fund funded innovative, engaging, and important work that held local leaders accountable, tracked recovery dollars, and helped residents navigate big questions and the complexities of rebuilding. That fund supported community forums, investigative journalism, collaborative reporting, and health and safety information.

How decisions will be made

A selection committee with knowledge of and experience in Eastern North Carolina, climate change, disaster recovery, community-driven projects, and other areas will review and recommend grant applications for funding using the guidelines above and the focus areas and values of the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund.

How to Apply:

To apply, you will submit a letter of interest that includes answers to the following questions. Please keep your letter to two pages, plus the supporting project budget document. You can find the questions in Spanish here. (Applications will be accepted in Spanish, and will be translated for the selection committee to review. )

  1. What is missing in coverage and response to disaster impacts and disaster relief in NC, and how do you propose to fill that void?
  2. Which county/ies or community/ies in NC will you work with on this project, and how will you engage with these communities, understand their needs, and connect with them for this project? 
  3. Please describe the projected timeline of your work and what will be accomplished in that time.
  4. Please provide an example, via link, attachment, or short paragraph that demonstrates how this work aligns with your organization’s mission – for example, a sample of work you have already done in response to disaster impacts and recovery in NC.
  5. Will there be any partners, collaborators, and/or other funders on this project? If so, identify them and describe the role(s) of each. 

We strongly encourage applications from groups who have been historically underrepresented in news and information ecosystems including African-American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Latinx, and Native-American communities in this region.

How to Submit the Letter:

All letters must be submitted electronically, using the NC Community Foundation’s online grant system.

Below you will find instructions for how to do so, and a link to the online system. Be advised that in addition to the letter, you will be asked to answer a couple of questions about your organization and its budget.  We recommend reviewing the form in its entirety before you get started so that you are aware of what is required.

Be sure to read these instructions and the background information carefully before you begin.

First, you must create an account profile. If you need assistance with creating your account, please click here to view training slides.

  1. Once your profile is created, you will be directed to your dashboard. Click on the word “Apply” 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 NC Local News Lab Fund Disaster Relief Grant Program will appear. Click the blue Apply button to begin.
  4. Follow the instructions to complete the form, upload your letter, and submit it.
  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 North Carolina Community Foundation at tech@nccommunityfoundation.org.

If you have questions about the call for proposals or the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund, please email info@localnewslab.org

When you’ve read the background and are ready to apply, click Here to enter the online system.

About the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund:

The North Carolina Local News Lab Fund works to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to the local news and information they need to make their communities thrive.

The Fund was established at the North Carolina Community Foundation in 2017 by a group of local and national funders who believe in the power of local journalism, local stories, and local people to strengthen our democracy. It is financially supported with contributions from Democracy Fund, Prentice Foundation, and the Park Foundation. The advisory board includes members from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, AJ Fletcher Foundation, Prentice Foundation, NCCU, and Democracy Fund. Learn more about the fund here: https://localnewslab.org/about/north-carolina-local-news-lab/