Announcing News Integrity Initiative’s new grants and work ahead for 2020:

Jenny Choi
3 min readFeb 4, 2020

Journalism/tech grants to promote civic empowerment in communities of color for 2020

The News Integrity Initiative (NII) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism (CUNY) is pleased to announce a slate of grantees sitting at the intersection of journalism and tech to improve civic empowerment for communities of color in preparation for the census and elections in 2020.

NII has recently supported the launch of The Journalists of Color Resource Guide created by and for journalists of color, to easily make accessible relevant tools online for journalists to thrive as freelancers or full-time employees in their workplaces and careers. This guide was created by Lam Thuy Vo, Disha Raychaudhuri and Moiz Syed. NII is also a co-founding sponsor of the new Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, housed at Borealis Philanthropy, to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of news organizations led by people of color.

For 2020, NII is pleased to announce a new slate of grantees to leverage the momentum of its seed funding efforts to structurally address diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism by supporting innovative organizations led by founders of color. Special thanks to Jonathan Jackson for all of his advisory expertise and guidance, and the Ford Foundation for making all of this work possible.

The grantees and projects include (with its leaders mentioned in parentheses):

  • Data for Black Lives (Yeshi Milner) — to integrate journalists of color into an emerging network of technologists, data scientists and researchers strategically and collectively using data to improve Black communities.
  • The Plug (Sherrell Dorsey) — to improve access to high quality Black tech and business journalism, including supporting key leaders in the Black innovation economy.
  • AI for The People (Mutale Nkonde) — to train journalists of color on covering elections and census in 2020 in an environment where Black communities are targeted by coordinated disinformation actors; this includes convenings with tech policy experts and researchers on this topic to lay the groundwork for a heuristic journalists can follow in the future.
  • kweliTV (DeShuna Spencer) — to support a set of convenings that elevate new media makers and journalism leaders in the global Black diaspora, including brainstorming new ways to increase distribution opportunities for content providers for global Black audiences.
  • Center for Community Media (Graciela Mochkofsky) — for a series of convenings for publishers of color around business development and to address disinformation campaigns targeting communities of color.
  • Citefull (Crystal Houston and Kyle Grone) — to support and promote a content verification platform that confirms or debunks news stories in real-time, in tandem with the delivery of voter and online civic information and media literacy training initiatives for communities of color and new voters.
  • Documented (Mazin Sidahmed) — to continue project management for the journalists of color community and convene a cohort of senior managers to recommend new policies and guidelines on improving coverage of communities of color, including ways to ensure journalists of color thrive in newsrooms. Open News will partner with Mazin Sidahmed and Documented to leverage its SRCCON Power and related workshops supporting and empowering journalists of color.

We’re thrilled and humbled by this list of leaders, organizations and their critical work for 2020.

This year, we’ll underscore new voices and leadership grounded in relevant perspectives to address the trust decay between journalism institutions and communities with enterprising solutions. This will include publishing next step recommendations on how we should change newsroom decision-making, strategically invest in innovation for future consumers of civic journalism, and identify and mobilize new sources of capital for media entrepreneurs of color.

As the News Integrity Initiative was founded in 2016 as a response to issues many communities of color could have already predicted and thereby create a roadmap to proactively address, we are hoping that by framing inclusion and equity as a central strategy for innovative, forward-thinking solutions, we’ll be able to report inspiring civic empowerment results for the end of 2020.

About NII: The News Integrity Initiative (NII) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism (CUNY) aims to address the root causes of the decline of trust between news organizations and communities. A key strategy is to ensure newsrooms are where journalists of diverse lived experiences can thrive and do their best work for diverse communities, despite the business and social pressures we face in today’s democracy. We accomplish this through convenings, applied research and relevant grantmaking.



Jenny Choi

OG on diversity/equity/inclusion, philanthropy and journalism. Adept at seeing the magic in the tragically ignored. Retired punk rock musician.