Introducing LaunchPad, a new national initiative for early-career journalists

Renaissance Journalism is excited to announce the selection of our inaugural cohort of fellows and career development grantees for our new national initiative, LaunchPad. This ambitious effort strives to empower early-career journalists who are passionate about reimagining journalism through the lens of equity and racial justice and amplifying the voices and stories of marginalized communities in the United States.

The LaunchPad Fellowship for NextGen Journalists

The first cohort of Renaissance Journalism’s LaunchPad Fellowship for NextGen Journalists debuted in June 2022 and is comprised of a diverse group of six talented journalists who hail from New York, California, Illinois and Florida. The fellows were selected through a competitive application process that included a written application and in-person interviews. They have a range of journalism experience working as independent journalists and as reporters and interns at mainstream and community/nonprofit news outlets. All share a passion for journalism that investigates and unpacks complex social justice issues through the lens of equity and social justice. They will tackle an array of complex issues during the six-month fellowship, including immigration reform, disability justice, racism in the entertainment industry, sexual abuse of Black women, policing and alternative crisis response models, and inequities in prenatal care.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with this mix of early-career journalists, who all share a passion for journalism that aims to lift the voices and stories of communities that have been historically misrepresented, underreported or ignored by the mainstream media,” said Valerie Bush, executive director of Renaissance Journalism. “This cohort is just the beginning of our efforts to build a network of journalists who can play a pivotal role in re-envisioning media as a vital and trusted source of education, civic engagement and social justice.”

During the six-month program, the fellows will work independently to conduct research, interviews and other reporting/producing activities needed to complete their proposed project. They will be challenged to delve deeply into their selected issue, exploring its real and human impact, exposing the systemic drivers and social forces that contribute to the problem, and exploring viable remedies and solutions.

Each fellow received a $5,000 grant to offset living expenses while conducting their research and reporting. They have been paired with a mentor/coach who will work with them as a group and individually to hone their reporting projects and strengthen their reporting skills. Throughout the fellowship term, they will also participate in a series of online trainings and webinars, such as IRE’s data journalism boot camp and Journalism + Design’s “Systems Thinking for Journalists” training, among others.

Here are the 2022 LaunchPad Fellows:

  • Danielle Broadway
  • Taylor Cook
  • Brea Jones
  • Tasmiha Khan
  • Sarah Belle Lin
  • Casey Ticsay

Learn more about the fellows and mentors.

The LaunchPad Career Development Grants

The other key component of Renaissance Journalism’s LaunchPad initiative is the Career Development Grants for NextGen Journalists. This new pilot project aims to support entry-level journalists—from diverse backgrounds and who are passionate about social justice journalism—by increasing their access to professional training and development opportunities previously unavailable to them due to financial and other barriers. In 2022, we selected six applicants from a competitive application pool to receive LaunchPad grants of up to $1,000 to underwrite such activities as attending a journalism conference (e.g. IRE, AAJA, etc.) taking an online or in-person skills-building course, or joining a professional journalists association.

The 2022 LaunchPad Career Development Grantees are:

  • Feven Gerezgiher
  • Luis Joel Méndez González
  • Tasmiha Khan
  • Sarah Belle Lin
  • Shaylyn Martos
  • Magnolia McKay

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