Diversity will be focus
At the organization’s annual meeting June 1, AAN members will be asked to approve the creation of a non-profit foundation to promote diversity in the alternative newsweekly industry.
The foundation would be organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which would ensure that donations made by member papers or other corporations or individuals would be tax deductible as charitable contributions.
AAN is a not-for-profit corporation organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Payments to AAN may be deductible as a business expense, but not as a charitable deduction.
The idea of forming such a foundation, which has been kicked around for years, picked up steam after AAN agreed last year to provide funding for the Academy for Alternative Journalism. AAJ is an eight-week summer residency program at the Medill School of Journalism that introduces minority journalists to the alternative press and trains them in long-form news and feature writing.
The foundation would also fund the association’s Diversity Internship program, under which matching grants are paid to help AAN papers hire minority interns. In the future, the foundation could develop its own programs to promote diversity.
The AAN Board of Directors approved the concept of a foundation at its meeting during the AAN West conference in February. Following the meeting, an ad hoc committee ironed out the details and instructed a law firm to draft the documents necessary to form the 501(c)(3) organization, including its by-laws and articles of incorporation. AAN members will be asked to approve those documents at the annual membership meeting in Madison.
“Our goal is to increase editorial diversity at AAN papers,” says AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel. “The foundation will institutionalize that effort and help us to compete with other media for talented minority journalists.”
Karpel says the non-profit corporation, which would be called the Alternative Newsweekly Foundation, will also help AAN to raise funds from outside the industry to promote diversity at alternative papers.
Under the proposed by-laws, the AAN Board would also serve as the board of directors of the foundation and would be charged with administering its funds and deciding what amounts to give to specific programs, such as the Academy.
The by-laws also state that the foundation’s “activities shall be limited to activities which promote diversity and the recruitment, training and hiring of minorities by alternative newsweekly publications.” Any endeavors beyond the scope of that description would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the board of directors.