2009 Diversity Grant Applications Now Available

AAN’s Diversity Committee recently elected to expand the Diversity Grant Program to cover diversity-related projects as well as interns. AAN members may apply for one of the four $1,250 grants to hire an intern, or to support an editorial project that demonstrably serves people of color in that paper’s market.

Grant applications, which can be downloaded here, are due to the AAN office by Jan. 9. Only one grant per ownership group will be awarded in 2009. As always, AAN encourages papers to match or supplement the grants with their own funds.

When reached via email to talk about the changes to the grant program, Jackson Free Press editor and Diversity Chair Donna Ladd said the expansion simply reflects certain realities.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22: Certainly, having little staff diversity can affect a paper’s ability to get stories and contacts in under-served communities (although it doesn’t have to),” she said. “But media-diversity experts warn that diversifying newsroom staffs can be difficult if the content is not reflecting a diverse audience and advise papers to make every effort to widen the scope of the content regardless of staff diversity.”

Once all applications have been received, the committee will vote on which four will receive grants this year. Ladd said she is looking forward to seeing what papers plan to do.

“It’s hard to say what kinds of projects we’ll get; we hope to have a variety to choose from,” she said. “We have established no formal guidelines as of yet, and will evaluate each project individually and then vote on which ones should get the grants based on their apparent reach into underserved communities and the specifics and challenges of each project plan.”

Ladd also said the committee is exploring a way to tie the Diversity Grant Program into the Academy for Alternative Journalism that runs each summer at Northwestern’s Medill School.

“We would like to time them in such a way that a paper could apply for a grant to help fund a ‘boot camp’ internship for, or a project by, an AAJ grad,” she said, and added that the committee welcomes any feedback on the best way to approach such an initiative.

The AAN Diversity Grant Program was instituted in 2001 to help papers add diversity to their newsrooms and to encourage minority journalists to start their careers at alternative newsweeklies through paid internships. It is funded through the Alternative Newsweekly Foundation. AAN encourages you to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation to support the program and our other diversity initiatives.

If you need more information on the program, please call (202) 289-8484, or email to Debra Silvestrin at debra (at) aan.org.

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