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 journalism and community storytelling through the lens of racial equity and social justice.  Those employed by a news organization, as well as freelance/independent journalists, are encouraged to apply. 

Specifically, the ideal applicant will:

  • Have at least three and no more than six years of professional journalism experience, either sequentially or cumulatively, in any medium (e.g., digital, print, video, audio, photo, multimedia).
  • Demonstrate an interest in and commitment to covering social justice and equity issues and to reporting in underserved local communities.
  • Have a publication plan. (You are required to provide a letter of support from your employer or, if a freelancer, a “letter of interest to publish” from a news outlet, before being accepted into the program.)
  • 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.
  • 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 will I have to provide when I apply?

  • A brief description of your proposed project.
  • A letter of interest and/or a commitment to publish from an editor of a news outlet (e.g., your current employer or, if you’re an independent journalist, from a news outlet).
  • A reporting/production plan and, if you have it, a budget.
  • Three samples of published work (any medium).
  • Two professional references.
  • Your résumé.

What are you looking for in my reporting project proposal?

We are looking for reporting projects that delve deeply and thoughtfully into a clearly articulated social justice issue or problem facing our nation. When conceiving your project, we encourage you to ask yourself: Is this an important, underreported story or issue that I feel compelled to investigate? What makes me uniquely suited to do this story? Is this a national problem with local angle? Is this an ambitious project, requiring six to nine months of work?  Will I have the time and ability to tackle and complete this project?

Specifically, we will be looking for reporting projects that:

  • Tell a new and untold story in an engaging way.
  • Investigate and unpack a complex social justice issue, looking at the policies, root causes, systemic drivers and historical factors that contribute to and intersect with an issue.
  • Center and amplify the voices, stories and experiences of local communities that have been overlooked or misrepresented in the media. 
  • Engage with new and diverse sources, revealing unique perspectives and life experiences.
  • Demonstrate a depth of knowledge and understanding of the topic and the community.
  • Explore sustainable and community-centered remedies and solutions to the problem.
  • Are ambitious in scope but that can be completed within the grant period.
  • Have a commitment from a news outlet to publish the project. 

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 to us personally.

Will Renaissance Journalism edit my work? 

 The short answer is “no.” Generally speaking, as a fellow you will have editorial independence as you report, write and produce your project. If you are an independent journalist,  you will be free to pitch and sell the finished story to a news organization for publication or airing. If you are a staff reporter, your work will be edited by your news outlet. All published work, whether by a freelancer or staff reporter, must meet the editorial standards of the news outlet that publishes it.

During the fellowship, you will receive “editorial mentorship” from an experienced professional journalist.

Your mentor will:

  • Offer guidance, expertise and coaching;
  • Help you fine-tune your project proposal and production/reporting schedule, as needed;
  • Trouble-shoot problems and suggest solutions;
  • Review your work, offering feedback and ways to improve your story.

Why is a letter of commitment/interest to publish required?  

Renaissance Journalism does not have the capacity at this time to find news outlets for the fellows’ completed work.  Thus, to ensure your work is published or aired, we are requiring the following: If you’re employed by a news outlet, you are required to provide a letter of support from your editor prior to being accepted into the fellowship. This is to ensure that you will be afforded the time to complete your project during work hours and that you have a publisher for your project. If you’re a freelance journalist, you must provide a letter of interest/commitment to publish or air your work from a news outlet prior to being accepted. Please reach out to us, if you have questions or need help with this requirement. 

What is the application and selection process?

Completed applications are due by July 12, 2024. We will review the applications and select the finalists, whom we will contact to set up an interview via Zoom. The interview is an 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 August 2024.

When does the program run?

The program will run over a nine-month period. It is slated to begin with a mandatory three-day, in-person learning/training session in the San Francisco Bay Area (October 21-23, 2024) and conclude around July 31, 2025.

What is the structure of the fellowship?

During the nine-month fellowship period, fellows will:

  • Attend an all-expenses-paid, three-day, in-person training, to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Attend mandatory monthly cohort meet-ups via Zoom. These meetings will be facilitated by the mentors and/or Renaissance Journalism staff. At these meetings fellows will have the opportunity to network, to report on their progress, and to troubleshoot problems.
  • Attend webinars designed to help fellows hone their career development and journalism skills.
  • Meet one-to-one (via phone, Zoom, email) with their mentors.
  • Be expected to complete their proposed reporting projects at the conclusion of the nine-month fellowship term.

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. They will receive the remaining balance ($2,500) upon completion of the fellowship and their reporting project. 

How do I apply?

  • Please complete the application by July 12, 2024.  Note that you will need a Google email account to access the application.
  • If you wish to review a PDF of the application before filling out the Google Form, we’ve added the PDF here for your convenience.
  • 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 support you!


Our warmest thanks to The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation for their support of LaunchPad.