AJP (The American Journalism Project)

Background

The resources our society devotes to covering and reporting local news will have declined by more than half since the beginning of the Great Recession. The crisis state of the local news industry has a variety of societal implications, perhaps most importantly the weakening of Americans’ ability to practice deliberative, democratic governance.

A new generation of social entrepreneurs is poised to meet this challenge.  However, to build sustainable Civic News Organizations (CNOs), these business savvy news leaders need philanthropic capital and hands-on expertise.

Patterned after venture capital enterprises, the American Journalism Project will be the first venture philanthropy nonprofit dedicated to investing in CNOs, providing the growth equity and intensive support vital to sustainability and growth. The American Journalism Project’s capacity-building or “growth equity” investments will allow CNOs in its portfolio to hire critical revenue-generating personnel and leverage existing community support, exponentially increasing local investment.  Co-founded by pioneering civic news entrepreneurs Elizabeth Green of Chalkbeat and John Thornton of the Texas Tribune, AJP has set out to safeguard public access to civic information through meaningful investment in a carefully vetted portfoilio of CNOs, intensive, hands-on expertise and mobilization of a movement to ensure the sector’s growth and sustainability.

The Process

Working arm-in-arm with co-founders, Elizabeth Green and John Thornton, and the AJP team, Jason Alcorn, Anna Nirmala and Gonzalo del Peon, the Due East team supported strategic direction setting and organizational development and continues to support AJP’s fundraising strategy and Board development

This work with AJP exemplifies our holistic approach, pulling on the expertise of our full-team providing strategic planning, fundraising development and organizational development, all with the same intensity, attention and high quality.

The Results

The first critical goal for AJP has been raising an initial fund of $50 million. At the time the organization officially launched in February of 2019, they also announced $42.6 million in lead funding commitments, a Board of Directors and its first three hires.

The Knight Foundation announced its leading support for the American Journalism Project with a $20 million, 5-year commitment. Joining The Knight Foundation as American Journalism Project lead supporters are: Arnold Ventures, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, philanthropist Christopher Buck, Emerson Collective, the Democracy Fund and the Facebook Journalism Project.

Through this first fund, AJP will make substantial, course-altering investments in 25-35 CNOs with the goal of fostering their transition into sustainable media organizations with multiple revenue streams. Working within the existing CNO ecosystem, AJP’s staff of “partners” will serve as value-added advisors and advocates for each CNO in the portfolio. Over the next few years, AJP will raise the visibility of the vital role of CNOs and mobilize a national movement to sustain and grow an independent local press across the country.

$42.6M

At the time of launch in February 2019, AJP announced $42.6 Million in Lead Funding Commitments

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