Applications open for $1M Challenge Fund to hack journalism education

WASHINGTON DC — Journalism educators can now apply for a $1 million challenge encouraging universities to create teams that will experiment with new ways of providing news and information, run by the Online News Association, the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.

The competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education is the brainchild of a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund.

The fund will support live news experiments that further the development of teaching hospital models in journalism education, in which innovative projects are created by teams of educators, students, professionals, technicians, and researchers. Micro-grants of up to $35,000 each will be awarded to 15 to 25 projects to be completed during the 2014-2015 academic year.

“Your project should stretch the limits of what you think you can do,” said Irving Washington, ONA’s Director of Operations and Challenge Fund administrator, in advising applicants. “Don’t be afraid to fail. The goal is to empower journalism schools to lead professional innovation and thought leadership. The size of your school or program shouldn’t limit the project’s ambition.”

Teams will be selected based on ideas that show the most potential for:

  • encouraging collaborative, student-produced local news coverage
  • bridging the professor-professional gap
  • using innovative techniques and technologies
  • and producing shared learnings from their digital-age news experiments

The competition will culminate in at least one substantial grand prize for the project most likely to change either local newsgathering, journalism education or both. An overall prize will be given for the best project evaluation, regardless of the experiment’s outcome. The winners and their projects, chosen in consultation with academic advisers and ONA leaders, will be featured at upcoming ONA conferences and other news media education events.

To apply, and for FAQs and resources, visit: journalists.org. For questions, email challengefund@journalists.org.

Deadline: Feb. 13, 2014. Winners will be announced in April, 2014.

Follow the conversation on #hackcurriculum.


About ONA

The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of digital journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, developers, photographers, educators, students and others who produce news for and support digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About the Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in social entrepreneurs working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public and able to meet the greatest challenges facing our nation. It was created in 2011 by eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar.

About the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation

Founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation’s mission is to invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the nation’s largest foundations, with more than $1.4 billion in assets. To learn more, visit McCormickFoundation.org, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/McCormick_Fdn, or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/McCormickFoundation.