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 anchor a resilient and independent media ecosystem designed to meet the needs of a diverse democratic society.
  • 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 production, dissemination, and engagement with journalism and media.

Our Journalism and Media program supports U.S.-based nonprofit institutions with national reach and influence. In a few cases, we support regional and place-based organizations that are exemplars in their fields and provide a model for others to replicate. We also support journalism and media in Chicago, where the Foundation is located.

What We Fund

Professional Non-profit 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.

Non-fiction 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.

Participatory 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.

Journalism & Media in Chicago

In 2016, we launched the Jack Fuller Legacy Initiative to bring the national Journalism and Media program “to ground” in our hometown of Chicago. The goal of the initiative is to support and amplify the outstanding work of Chicago media organizations whose aims and approaches align with the program’s goal of supporting just and inclusive news and narratives. 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.

This Media and Storytelling Program aims to support journalists and storytellers from Chicago communities whose insights are underrepresented in the broader media field. It provides general operating and project-based funding to community-based organizations and individuals working to generate just and inclusive narratives through the work of accountability, investigative and explanatory journalism, and through creative nonfiction projects targeted at narrative and culture change.

MacArthur provides $1 million per year for this program.

We also make a limited number of direct grants to Chicago-based organizations meeting one of three conditions:

  • The organization and/or its projects or approaches have a national reach and provide a replicable model for local journalism elsewhere.
  • The entire ecosystem or a large part of the ecosystem will benefit from the project or activity.
  • A targeted investment will have a catalytic impact on the organization.

Documentary Film

The Journalism and Media Program continues MacArthur’s deep legacy of supporting thought-provoking social issue documentary films through 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 several 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 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 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 journalists to find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, and compel viewers to make changes in themselves or their communities.

Current Partners:


We are not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time. However, contact us to share new ideas and perspectives.