The Google News Initiative ‘Supersizes’ Transformation Tech

Transformation Tech - a revenue-enhancing program from the Fund for Equity in Local News - to reach up to 240 publishers

by Graham Jarrett, AAN Board President

Soon after we launched the Transformation Tech application last month, things went a little quiet; after many, many months of working on this project and putting the pilot program into motion, we got huge news from Google News Initiative just on the heels of our initial TT application launch. GNI decided to “supersize” the program from 21 publishers over our three associations to as many as 240 publishers.

This is enormous. AAN has never been a part of securing funding for members on this level. And understand this is funding for us to run our own program that we designed. By “us,” I mean AAN, the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association/The Black Press (NNPA) working together as the Fund for Equity in Local News (FELN), which is a project fiscally sponsored by the Alternative Newsweekly Foundation (ANF). Getting to this has taken many hours and lots of work, but we could not be more thrilled to have secured this for our membership.

The last two weeks have been a mad dash of ironing out details, but I’m happy to say the ink is finally dry, and the GNI’s official blog post is up. The new Transformation Tech program is an 18-month program, split into six cohorts for three months each, to put as many publishers from our three associations through as possible (up to 240). Each publisher who completes their Digital Revenue Plan and the required elements of the program will receive $20,000 (up from the previously announced $15k) to help them implement their digital revenue transformation.

Good news if you’ve already applied—you’ve got nothing more to do. The Transformation Tech team is combing through the applications now, selecting the first cohort of 40 publishers and will onboard you this month if selected. (Ensure you’re in good standing with your dues.) If the team does not select you for the first cohort, you’ll remain in the running for future cohorts.

If you haven’t yet applied, the application will open back up with the new details the week of June 12. There will be six cohorts between now and the end of 2024, so we expect most AAN members to qualify and have an opportunity to participate if you choose.

Todd Stauffer is the Lab Director for Transformation Tech, and you can reach him at for more information. 

I want to say what a pleasure it’s been to work with the NNPA (Dr. Benjamin Chavez and Ron Burke) and the NAHP (Alvaro Gurdian and Evelyn Castro) to form FELN (Executive Director Ashley Woods), with so much support from the Google News Initiative (Tiffany Proscia, Casey Pallenik, Chrissy Towle, Juan Marchese and others). I also have to mention that none of this would have happened had I not been passed the baton from my predecessor, John Heaston, who had the vision and got the initial ball rolling in what would later become the FELN collaboration. John started us down the path of Transformation Tech and swung for the fences from the get-go, getting the attention of GNI and other funders who have finally begun to see our three associations in a more equitable light among others in our profession. 

I cannot understate the time Todd and ANF President Ellen Meany have spent planning this. Your AAN and ANF teams (including Brandi Rivera as well!) have been hard at work making this happen, and there is yet even more hard work ahead to ensure we execute our promise. We are ready for the challenge and incredibly grateful for the opportunity.