Report for America is a finalist in MacArthur competition for $100 million grant

CHICAGO – Report for America is one of six finalists in 100&Changea global competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to fund a bold solution to critical social challenges. 

Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, has an audacious goal of virtually eliminating American news deserts with MacArthur’s support.

“Local news is collapsing and the pandemic has only accelerated the decimation of newsrooms nationwide,” said Steve Waldman, president of Report for America. “Without local news, people everywhere are left in the dark without the information they need to understand the critical issues facing their community, to make good decisions for their family and hold elected officials accountable.”

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of journalists had fallen by 60 percent since 2000, a collapse akin to the decline of the coal industry. Since COVID-19, over 50 local newsrooms across the country have closed, and 33,000 reporters have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay cut. According to the University of North Carolina, 1,800 communities nationwide no longer have access to a local news source.

Report for America is a movement to transform communities and strengthen democracy by reporting on critical news gaps in under-served communities. Today, Report for America has 225 corps members, including 95 journalists of color, reporting in 163 local newsrooms across 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. By fielding 1,800 talented, diverse journalists in partnership with local news outlets, Report for America can ensure every county in America has a watchdog reporter. 

“The critical challenges that these six ambitious proposals are tackling existed long before the pandemic,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “The extraordinary inequality that has been accentuated by the coronavirus will continue to exist after it subsides, unless we start to reimagine our future and support the reinvention of systems and structures that create a more just, equitable and resilient world. MacArthur is committed to supporting organizations that think big, because solutions are possible.”  

During the Project Development phase of the competition, GroundTruth will work with an expert team to strengthen the proposal, present a preliminary plan for evaluation and learning, and show authentic engagement with communities of interest before submitting revised project plans. And GroundTruth will receive technical assistance and consulting to support fundraising, scaling efforts, and improve inclusivity from MacArthur. 

GroundTruth will present Report for America during a live event in the spring of 2021, before MacArthur’s board names a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years. 

“It is our hope that these creative proposals will benefit from expert feedback, technical assistance, and increased recognition, exposure and support,” said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur managing director,  100&Change and CEO of  Lever for Change. “We know from the first round of 100&Change, that the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas to accelerate social change.” 

GroundTruth has a unique opportunity for additional fundraising, thanks to the competition. Since the inaugural 100&Change, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. 

GroundTruth launched Report for America in 2017 with catalyst support from the Lenfest Institute and Google News Initiative, and has grown rapidly thanks in part to leadership support from partners such as the Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Ziff Family and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The GroundTruth Project is also a current grantee of the MacArthur Foundation, which supports GroundTruth reporting fellowships worldwide.

Charles Sennott, GroundTruth’s Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, said, “We are deeply grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for this opportunity to share our vision for systemic change in journalism, to build the case for what we could do with this transformative support to be part of saving local journalism, to serve local communities and to support our democracy.”

Building on the success of  100&Change, MacArthur created  Lever for Change  to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions.  

Report for America and all the 100&Change finalists  are featured  in  Lever for Change’s  Bold Solutions Network,  a searchable online collection of highly-rated, rigorously-evaluated proposals that emerge from each of the competitions managed by Lever for Change.  

More About 100&Change 

100&Changeis a distinctive competition that is open to organizations and collaborations working in any field, anywhere in the world. Proposals must identify a problem and offer a solution that promises significant and durable change. 

This round of the competition had a  promising start: 3,690 competition registrants submitted 755 proposals. Of those, 475 passed an initial administrative review. 100&Change  was designed to be fair, open and transparent. The  identity of the judgesand the  methodologyused to assess initial proposals are public. Applicants received comments and feedback from the peers, judges, and technical reviewers. Key issues in the competition are discussed in a blogon MacArthur’s website. 

In the  inaugural round of100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committeewere awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to build a foundation that helps ensure the future of millions of children.  

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions and influential networks building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S. and reducing corruption in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program and 100&Change, MacArthur continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsive democracy as well as the vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. 

About Report for America: Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. GroundTruth is an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the U.S.