Renaissance Journalism awards $80,000 in reporting grants as part of its “Equity & Health Reporting Initiative”

Renaissance Journalism is pleased to announce it has awarded $80,000 in reporting grants to four Bay Area news organizations as part of its Equity and Health Reporting Initiative.

Each organization will receive a $20,000 grant for an in-depth, ambitious reporting project that explores the disproportionate impact of systemic inequities—as exposed in bold relief by the pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings—on the health and well-being of our region’s most vulnerable communities. Projects will be completed by May 2021.

“We have reached an unprecedented inflection point in the U.S. and here in the Bay Area,” said Valerie Bush, deputy director of Renaissance Journalism. “It is critically important for journalists and local news organizations to help the public understand the complex intersections between health and the systemic inequities—particularly structural racism and economic inequality—that impact it in profound ways.”

Grantees were selected from a sizable pool of applicants based on a competitive RFP process. Bay Area journalists from all media were encouraged to apply, including local news organizations—large and small, nonprofit and for-profit, ethnic media—as well as independent journalists, photographers, filmmakers and other storytellers.

The initiative defines “health” in broad terms, as the health ecosystem is vast and varied. It includes individual, family and community health; maternal health; morbidity rates; health at all stages of life—from newborns to seniors; mental health; public health; the social welfare system and health care access, among other issues and areas.

Throughout the year, grantees will be invited to attend online networking meet-ups, as well as webinars featuring experts and community leaders on equity and health.



Cal Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism organization focused on California state politics and policy. They will produce a multimedia, data-driven investigation into the impact of the pandemic on the physical and mental health of residents of two neighboring Oakland zip codes with dramatically different case rates.  According to CalMatters, the two zip codes “will serve as proxies for the disparate impacts the virus is having on different demographic groups” and will reveal many of the root causes of health inequity, such as access to primary care, rates of diabetes and heart disease, and access to mental health care. They also plan to convene a “town hall” conversation with and between the two communities.

El Tímpano, a grass-roots reporting lab, will shine a spotlight on the crisis of overcrowded housing in East Oakland and its profound impact on the health and well-being of the Latinx and Mayan immigrants who live there. They will combine investigative journalism with participatory reporting—using their innovative SMS reporting platform—to shed light on the current crisis as well as on the other ongoing health issues associated with the overcrowded housing conditions that have long plagued this community.

Ethnic Media Services will coordinate with up to 10 ethnic media news organizations throughout the Bay Area to produce a series of multilingual, multimedia portraits that track the health impacts on families who face eviction or the threat of eviction during the pandemic. The families will include a diverse mix of families of color—all populations disproportionately impacted by Covid-19—from Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Sonoma, and Alameda counties. Ethnic Media Services will also host a series of Zoom meetings to provide renters with a public platform where they can share their stories and hear from local decision-makers.

KALW, an educational public radio station, will produce a five-part podcast series with multimedia and multilingual components investigating the health challenges in five Bay Area communities that are facing the brunt of systemic inequities. The series will focus on a range of health issues, including health care for undocumented residents; the rise in mental health issues among vulnerable populations; the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on elderly people of color, particularly those living in multi-generational families; and the lack of adequate maternal health resources, among other topics.



The “Equity and Health Reporting Initiative” was developed with support and funding from The California Endowment.