A project of Democracy Fund

The Legal Clinic Fund for Local News

Photo of Spotlight PA journalists, courtesy of the Institute for Nonprofit News, used by permission

About the Fund

The Legal Clinic Fund for Local News, a collaborative fund to support the growth and sustainability of university-based clinics across the United States, was founded on the belief that access to legal support is a critical element of local news ecosystems. The Fund provides legal support to local newsrooms and journalists that seek to advance and defend first amendment rights, media freedom, and transparency in their communities.

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. Ultimately, the Fund seeks to ensure that any local newsroom or journalist that needs legal support can access it. 

The Fund is currently supported by Democracy Fund, The Klarman Family Foundation, and Solidarity Giving. The Miami Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for the Fund. Past partners of the Fund include The Abrams Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation.

Meet our Partners

Since inception, the Fund has awarded $5.46 million in grants to 12 partner clinics. A list of our current legal clinic partners can be found here. All grantees received multi-year funding to increase their capacity to experiment with new ways to serve more journalists and expand their impact.

In Fall 2022, the Fund welcomed three new grantee partners and renewed funding for six other past partners. Read more in the press release here.


Learn more about the incredible impact our legal clinic partners are having by reading our new report: 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. 


The Legal Clinic Fund for Local News is not currently accepting applications. If you are interested in applying for funding, please review the most recent Program Guidelines here and contact the Fund Administrator, Lindsey Linzer at LLinzer@miamifoundation.org


The Fund has assembled an Advisory Committee of experts from the field as well as representatives from the funding partners to set strategy for the Fund, review proposals, and provide grant recommendations to The Miami Foundation. Meet the current Advisory Committee here.


The Legal Clinic Fund is guided by four values: 

IndependenceIt is of paramount importance that any legal clinic receiving funding from the Fund remain independent. As such, the Fund will not seek to influence decisions regarding the cases these clinics take on.

Local – The Fund will prioritize organizations that are working in service of local communities and publishers, and helping address local, regional and state issues. Clinics that have existing local media outlet relationships and/or viable plans to build those relationships will be given preference. We expect that many clinics will also work on national level cases, but want to encourage accessibility to the issues local journalists encounter. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion The Fund recognizes that journalists of color have historically faced unique legal threats and challenges and will give preference to clinics working to advance structural change around equity and justice. We will also give special consideration to how legal clinics can help support a new generation of diverse First Amendment scholars, practitioners, and journalists. 

Sustainability The Fund values clinics seeking to offer a long-term resource for local journalists and universities that are committed to sustaining this work beyond any one grant. The Fund’s resources are designed to be a catalyst but we hope to see other funders and university leaders build on our support. 


Please contact Fund Administrator, Lindsey Linzer, Managing Director of Community Investments at The Miami Foundation at LLinzer@miamifoundation.org