Press Forward Chicago Launches with $10 Million in Commitments to Revitalize Local News

November 3, 2023 Press Releases Local News
billboard image Press Forward Chicago Launches with $10 Million in Commitments to Revitalize Local News

A local coalition of donors unite to support more informed communities.


A coalition of 10 funders today announced the launch of Press Forward Chicago with early commitments nearing  $10 million to strengthen and sustain local news organizations and ensure Chicago’s diverse residents have access to multiple sources of reliable news and information. The initiative will offer civic-minded individuals, philanthropic leaders, and regional foundations the opportunity to pool their dollars to support a robust network of independent news outlets.

Around the country, community news funds are being established to reverse the dramatic decline in local news that has coincided with an increasingly divided America and weakening trust in institutions. The Chicago region has access to a robust and diverse news ecosystem comprised of small independent news outlets focused on innovative approaches to community reporting. Yet, many of these outlets are underfunded or lack the resources necessary to ensure continued success and adaptability.

“Chicago is a news oasis,” said John Palfrey president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “Chicago-area independent news outlets are incubators of innovation, and many seek to empower residents, encourage civic engagement, and work to build understanding across our segregated city and region. Through Press Forward Chicago we have the potential to position the Chicago area as a national leader in civic journalism and ensure individuals have access to news and information that is consequential to their daily lives.”

A local coalition of public and private sector funders has committed to supporting Press Forward Chicago. Initial contributors are the MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Amy Falls and Hartley Rogers Foundation, Christie Hefner, Democracy Fund, Field Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Knight Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation.

“Productive civic action, essential for a functioning democracy, relies on credible local news.”

“Productive civic action, essential for a functioning democracy, relies on credible local news,” said Andrea Sáenz, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “A comprehensive understanding of critical issues must include their impact on our broad and diverse communities. That is why we are working to ensure independent news outlets can continue to meet community needs and tell a more complete story of Chicago.”

Press Forward Chicago partners will come together to pool and allocate resources, providing grants to independent news outlets. This support aims to help these outlets reduce costs, explore new revenue streams, adapt to a changing media landscape, and encourage collaborations in editorial and publishing across the city.

In the months ahead, the initiative will assemble an advisory committee comprised of representatives from Chicago’s civic and journalism communities, as well as an allocations committee comprised of donors to refine investment priorities and release a grant application through an open Request for Proposals process in early 2024.

Press Forward Chicago is a local chapter of Press Forward, the national initiative led by the MacArthur Foundation, to strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news and information with an infusion of more than a half-billion dollars over the next five years. A network of local chapters across the country—starting in Alaska; Chicago; Minnesota; Philadelphia; Springfield, Illinois; and Wichita—are springing up as funders are coordinating or collaborating across states and regions to bring new donors and foundations together to expand resources for local news. Press Forward Local chapters are an opportunity for funders to create place-based initiatives for local news, driven by the specific needs of their communities.

Press Forward Chicago welcomes and continues to invite additional funders to enhance nonprofit and for-profit news and information.