NC Local News Lab Fund awards largest round of grant funding to date with new NC funding partners

The NC Local News Lab at the North Carolina Community Foundation has awarded $856,000 in new grants to news and community organizations.


Dogwood Health Trust and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation join existing funding partners to make the Fund’s largest investment yet in ensuring NC communities have the news and information they need.


They join Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Prentice Foundation, and Democracy Fund to back organizations filling critical news and information gaps in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.


          


Photo Credit: Madeline Gray


Together, this coalition has invested more than $1.4 million in strengthening NC’s news and information ecosystem since the pandemic began, and a total of $2.4 million since 2017. 


This pooled fund focuses on expanding accessible, inclusive, high-quality local news and information in service of racial and class equity in NC. The work of these trusted journalists and messengers is essential for communities’ health and our democracy, both during a pandemic and in its wake.


“A big part of creating a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive is ensuring that people have access to credible information that helps them engage in community decision-making processes and make more informed choices about their lives,” said Betsey Russell, Senior Director of Communications at Dogwood Health Trust. “This is especially important in communities that have been underserved in terms of access to news in the past.” 


The first 19 months of the pandemic underscored how disparities in local news and information reflect racial and other forms of systemic inequity. This round of grants reinforces the capacity of trusted organizations to reach and inform communities about the pandemic, vaccines, and civic life, focusing on those serving and led by Black, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, rural, poor and disconnected people.


“The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is committed to improving the health and quality of life of people with low-incomes across North Carolina and to changing the systems that have historically held people back,” said Nora Ferrell, director of communications at the Trust. “To impact those systems, people need trusted information about where they live and the policies that impact their day-to-day lives, making local news and community stories essential in this work. The Trust invested in the NC Local News Lab Fund to ensure people have access to accurate information and to help elevate community voices during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”


The Fund also renewed its support for the NC Local News Workshop at Elon University with a $250,000 general operating grant. The Workshop’s programs complement the Fund’s direct grants. Its statewide efforts to connect news and information organizations to one another and build their capacity to practice racial equity and sustain their work. 


In partnership with Dogwood Health Trust, the Fund made an additional $68,000 grant to understand Western North Carolina communities’ news and information needs and map organizations informing communities in NC’s westernmost 18 counties. The Workshop will hire a fellow to support this listening, community engagement, and analysis.


A group of national and state experts with deep ties to North Carolina communities, expertise in evolving models of journalism, and vision for accessible, inclusive news and information selected the grantees.


This year’s selection committee included



Grant amounts reflect the selection committee’s evaluation of an organization’s current capacity to serve historically marginalized communities, the resources currently available to the organization and the organization’s role in the ecosystem.


The Fund welcomes funding partners who are also interested in supporting news and information that helps NC communities navigate our changing circumstances and engage in civic life. Please contact Lizzy Hazeltine at lizzy@localnewslab.org for more information.


The grant recipients are:

AMEXCAN works to inform Latino communities and to “foster the appreciation, understanding, and prosperity of the Mexican and Latino Community.”

$30,000.00

Asheville Writers in The Schools and Community ignites social change through the power of arts, culture and restorative self-expression.

$40,000.00

Black River Health provides accessible and affordable healthcare to underserved residents and conducts health assessments with community outreach through Manos Unidas.

$30,000.00

Carolina Public Press reports nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news built upon the facts and context North Carolinians need to know.

$20,000.00

El Centro Hispano strengthens the community, builds bridges and advocates for equity and inclusion of Hispanics/Latinos in the Triangle Area of NC. 

$30,000.00

Emancipate NC supports North Carolina’s people as they free themselves from mass incarceration and structural racism. 

$30,000.00

Enlace Latino NC works to inform and empower the diverse community of Latinx immigrants in NC to become more involved in political and social changes that affect them. 

$30,000.00

Free Press, through its News Voices: North Carolina project, organizes Charlotte’s residents and newsrooms to identify, elevate and address community information needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

$15,000.00

Hola Carolina explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of their community in Western NC while combating misinformation and improving communication within the Spanish-speaking community. 

$40,000.00

JMPro TV publishes news in Spanish and Central American Mayan languages, via online video and text, and local FM radio for communities in Western NC. 

$40,000.00

NC Black Leadership and Organizing Collective is dedicated to shifting the social, economic, political, and material conditions for Black communities across North Carolina.

$30,000.00

NC FIELD fills service gaps in the farmworker community, raises awareness of the plight of the farmworker, and empower farmworkers to pursue educational and economic opportunities beyond the fields. 

$25,000.00

NC Health News fills the coverage gap left by the departure of experienced health care reporters with fair, accurate, deeply researched news and information.

$25,000.00

Southerly cultivates communities through events, fosters collaborations, and produces thoughtful, informative journalism about climate and environmental issues in NC and throughout the South.

$30,000.00

Support the Port connects underserved Wilmington residents with resources including job training, educational opportunities, arts, and essential community programs.

$15,000.00

Student Action with Farmworkers works with young people to improve conditions for farmworkers and build diverse coalitions working for social change. 

$30,000.00

WNCU serves Durham with quality jazz, other specialty music and news programs from its perch at North Carolina Central University.

$30,000.00

Working Narratives links neighborhoods to the newsroom, trains citizen journalists and youth, and shares podcasts covering specific beats critical to their communities on NC’s coast.

$30,000.00