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Heising-Simons Foundation Grants to Strengthen and Sustain Journalism

In this country’s infancy, the founders recognized the value of journalism as an institution to keep the new government in check. Writing to his delegate at the Continental Congress, Thomas Jefferson noted, “… were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” He argued that, the basis of our government being the opinion of the people, it was a necessity to have an informed citizenry through public information.

Democratic societies require an active press as a means of ensuring accountability. And yet, we find ourselves in a time in which journalism is especially vulnerable. Journalists have been called the opposition and have been targeted to sow mistrust among the public, there is a trend among audiences to seek news that reaffirms their own beliefs, and all this occurs at a time in which journalism institutions have increasingly limited resources to spend on investigative work and fact-checking.

The Foundation has a longstanding tradition of making grants to media organizations working on issues related to our program areas, as a means for achieving better information and public understanding of those topics, and we will continue to do so. But we also recognize the importance of supporting journalism as a field—through a portfolio out of our emerging opportunities grantmaking.

Our journalism grants aim to strengthen and sustain journalism as an essential arm of U.S. democracy. We do this by:

  • supporting key organizations that conduct investigative journalism;
  • supporting key organizations that protect the power and freedom of the press;
  • supporting and elevating underrepresented groups in mainstream media; and,
  • in a few select cases, supporting key California journalism institutions.

Today, we are pleased to announce support to five institutions, listed below.

(For the first four grants listed below, we worked in partnership with the Barr Foundation in Boston, which announced its own grantmaking effort focused on journalism. This partnership demonstrates how foundations can share knowledge, partner constructively to advance a common agenda, and minimize the amount of work required of our grantees.)

We encourage you to explore these institutions, and their good work, by clicking on the organization names below. We continue to update this list as additional grants are made out of our journalism portfolio.