Journalism & Media Grant Guidelines


The Journalism and Media program seeks to promote and amplify just and inclusive news and narratives, based on the belief that accurate and compelling media plays an important role in informing, engaging, and activating individuals and groups to take part in democratic practices and processes. 

To build and strengthen organizations creating and disseminating just, accurate, and inclusive news and narratives, the program supports work in three areas:

  • Professional Nonprofit Reporting
  • Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling
  • Participatory Civic Media

In each of the three areas, the program pursues the following objectives:

  • Build strong, independent, and sustainable organizations and networks that exemplify leadership and innovation in their fields and create and disseminate content and programming by, about, and for a diverse American public.
  • Address barriers that limit the creation of, access to, or participation in media activities, including the legal, safety, digital security, and technological challenges facing organizations and individuals.
  • Promote learning, leadership, innovation, and field-building opportunities that explore timely and emerging issues related to the production, dissemination, and engagement with journalism and media.


What We Fund

In Professional Nonprofit Reporting, we fund the following types of organizations:

  • National nonprofit journalism organizations that pursue explanatory, investigative, and/or international reporting primarily for American audiences.
  • National organizations that work to protect press freedom and address the safety and security challenges facing journalists.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of nonprofit journalism.

In Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling, we fund the following types of organizations:

  • National and regional organizations that fund, produce, and/or disseminate artfully crafted nonfiction storytelling projects on contemporary social issues for broadcast, web, and mobile.
  • National and regional organizations that provide training, mentoring, and support to diversify the talent pipeline for the field of nonfiction multimedia storytelling.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of nonfiction multimedia storytelling.

In Civic Media, we fund the following types of organizations:

  • National organizations that mobilize and support individuals and groups to use digital media to express and organize themselves for social change.
  • National, regional, and local organizations that identify, train, and encourage individuals and groups, particularly from historically underrepresented communities, to engage in civic media activities.
  • Organizations and activities that support the infrastructure for and contribute to learning and innovation in the field of civic media.

In Chicago, we conduct the Journalism and Media work through the Jack Fuller Legacy Initiative, which was created in honor of the late Jack Fuller, MacArthur Trustee and Editor and Publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Fuller Initiative’s values and priorities are rooted in Jack Fuller’s strong belief that good journalism and civic engagement are inextricably linked. The goal of the Initiative is to lift up Chicago journalism and media organizations as a model for the rest of the country and to support work at the intersection of journalism, storytelling, and civic media. Much of this work is conducted in partnership with the Field Foundation of Illinois through its Media and Storytelling Program, which MacArthur and Field launched together in 2018.

Documentary Film

The Journalism and Media Program is continuing MacArthur’s deep legacy of supporting thought-provoking social issue documentary films by expanding its support of national and regional organizations that serve emerging to experienced nonfiction multimedia storytellers.

Since the mid-eighties, MacArthur has supported over 300 documentary projects: a cumulative investment of $50 million. View a list of documentary film projects supported through previous Open Calls. At the same time, the Foundation has supported and strengthened a number of partner organizations that provide more comprehensive support to filmmakers, from production funding, editorial advice, and professional mentorship, to broadcast, distribution and public engagement. 

Today, the Journalism and Media program supports documentary filmmakers and nonfiction media producers exclusively through partner organizations. These organizations, as a whole, support hundreds of filmmakers each year, and help to diversify the field and raise the artistic achievement and social impact of documentary storytelling.

Please note: The Foundation no longer accepts applications for individual documentary projects.

Filmmakers currently seeking production funds are encouraged to explore the funding opportunities offered by MacArthur’s partner organizations. These organizations deploy MacArthur resources in a way that allows many more filmmakers, artists and technologists to find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, and compel viewers to make changes in themselves or their communities for a more just, verdant and peaceful society.

Current partners:


Updated June 2021

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