Renaissance Journalism is excited to introduce LaunchPad Fellowship for NextGen Journalists. This new pilot project is designed to support entry-level journalists who have the skills and desire to tackle an ambitious in-depth reporting/storytelling project on a critical social justice issue but lack the financial resources and/or employer support to do so. Fellows will receive a $5,000 grant to offset living expenses while they work independently over a six-month period to complete their proposed project. During the fellowship, fellows will have the opportunity to network with other journalists, hone their career development skills through interactive webinars, and meet prospective mentors through monthly online cohort meetings facilitated and led by a journalist advisor and Renaissance Journalism staff.
In its inaugural pilot year in 2022, the fellowship program will be offered remotely. We envision offering an in-person program in the future, when it is feasible and safe.
Please note: Applications for the 2022 program are closed.
Read about our 2022 LaunchPad fellows and mentors.
LAUNCHPAD FELLOWSHIP FAQS
Who is eligible for this fellowship?
We’re looking for talented early-career journalists from diverse backgrounds who have a demonstrated commitment to social justice journalism. Freelance/independent journalists, as well as those employed by a news organization, are eligible to apply.
Specifically, a prospective fellow must:
- Have at least one and no more than five years of professional journalism experience in any medium (print, radio, TV, online, podcast, data, photography, illustration, etc.).
- Demonstrate an interest in and commitment to covering social justice and equity issues and to telling stories that reflect a diversity of voices and perspectives.
- Be committed to and practice ethical and principled journalism, which is accurate, fair and thorough.
- Demonstrate a serious intention to pursue a career in journalism, even if currently unemployed as a journalist.
- Apply as an individual—not as a team or on behalf of a news organization.
- Reside in the United States.
Integral to Renaissance Journalism’s mission is to diversify our nation’s newsrooms and to amplify the voices and stories of marginalized communities that have been historically underrepresented, misrepresented or ignored by the mainstream media. We strongly encourage early-career journalists from those communities to apply, including journalists of color, indigenous journalists, those from working-class backgrounds and LGBTQ+ journalists. We will also take into consideration the financial barriers and/or limited access to career opportunities that an applicant faces.
What are you looking for in my reporting project proposal?
We are looking for reporting projects that delve deeply into a clearly defined social justice issue or problem, unpacking its systemic causes, employing powerful and authentic storytelling, and amplifying the perspectives and life experiences of our nation’s marginalized communities. When conceiving your project, we encourage you to ask yourself: Is this an important story that I feel compelled to tell but lack the time and resources to tackle? Is this an ambitious project, requiring five to six months of work? Don’t be afraid to wow us with your project idea! And don’t be afraid to pitch an idea that employs all the possible ways we “do journalism” these days, including multimedia approaches, animation, deep data and mapping, etc.
Specifically, we will be looking for reporting projects that:
- Tell a new and untold, originally reported, story in an engaging way.
- Connect the dots and unpack a complex social justice issue. This approach means looking at the policies, root causes, systemic drivers and historical factors that contribute to, intersect with and impact an issue.
- Center and amplify the voices, stories and lived experiences of marginalized communities, including people of color, indigenous communities, those who are from working-class backgrounds, LGBTQ+, women and people with disabilities.
- Engage with new and diverse sources, revealing unique perspectives and life experiences.
- Demonstrate a deep knowledge and understanding of the topic and the community.
- Are ambitious in scope but that can be completed with the resources that are available to you and within the grant period.
- Have a clear plan for publication.
Please feel free to contact us, if you have questions about your proposal or need help developing a project idea. You can reach us at launchpad@renjournalism[dot]org to set up a time to talk us personally.
Will Renaissance Journalism edit my work?
No, we will not be editing your work. As a fellow you will have editorial independence as you report, write and produce your project. Once completed, you will be free to pitch and sell the finished story to a news organization for publication or airing. You can also add your project to your portfolio as a clip. If feasible, we plan to showcase the fellows’ work on our organizational website.
What is the application and selection process?
Completed applications are due by Friday, March 18, 2022. We will review the applications and select the finalists, whom we will contact to set up an interview via Zoom. The interview is as opportunity for us to get to know you better and to ask you any follow-up questions we might have. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask us questions. Once selected, we will announce the selected fellows in mid-April.
When does the program run?
The program will run over a six-month period. It is slated to begin in early May and end on October 31, 2022.
What is the structure of the fellowship?
During the six-month fellowship period, fellows will:
- Attend mandatory monthly two-hour cohort meet-ups via Zoom. These meetings will be facilitated by a journalist mentor and/or Renaissance Journalism staff. At these meetings fellows will have the opportunity to network, to report on their progress, to troubleshoot problems, and to meet professional journalists.
- Have the option to attend a series of three to five webinars designed to help fellows hone their career development and journalism skills.
- Be expected to complete their proposed reporting projects at the conclusion of the six-month fellowship term.
- Attend a “closing party” via Zoom where fellows will share their final projects and share their feedback and reflections about the program.
How and when will a fellow receive the grant?
Each fellow will receive a $5,000 grant to offset living expenses while conducting their independent research and reporting. Fellows will receive half of their stipend ($2,500) at the start of the fellowship. At the three-month mark, following an assessment between the fellow and Renaissance Journalism staff, fellows who are making good progress toward fulfilling their goals, will receive the remainder of the grant.
How do I apply?
- Please complete the application by Friday, March 18, 2022. Note that you will need a Google email account to access the application.
- For your convenience, here’s a copy of the application form in Word if you would like to review the application in its entirety. If the form does not download automatically, copy the link and paste it into a browser.
- The application form will automatically save your responses, which allows you to complete the application in different sittings.
- Once you complete and submit the application, you will be emailed a copy of your responses.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at launchpad@renjournalism[dot]org, if you have questions, need our assistance completing the application form, or want to talk to someone about your project proposal. We’re here to help you!
Our warmest thanks to The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation for their support of LaunchPad.