Round 1

Encino, Calif., April 15, 2014 — Investigative News Network is announcing 8 winners of the first round of its INNovation Fund grants, for a total of $236,280.  Initially established with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the INNovation Fund’s sole purpose is to spur nonprofit newsrooms to undertake innovative projects that will bring their organization closer to sustainability.

“We were delighted to receive so many proposals from the various members of the nonprofit news and public media communities,” said Kevin Davis, CEO & Executive Director of the Investigative News Network.  “While we only had sufficient funds to move forward with eight out of 118 proposals, we are very excited by the breadth and types of business experimentation exemplified by the finalists.”

“The INNovation Fund was created to cultivate experimentation and new ideas newrooms,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice-president of journalism and media innovation. “The hope is that fund recipients that have already shown promise, can help create a standard for innovation in newsrooms and strengthen the future of nonprofit news and public media organizations.”

The eight winners are:

Chalkbeat —
The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) — 
InvestigateWest —
IowaWatch —
Public Herald —
SF Public Press —
Southern California Public Radio —
WXXI Public Radio —

For short summaries of each organization’s INNovation Fund project, see below.  More in-depth information about each grantee and project are available at

This is the first of multiple rounds of the INNovation Fund.  Applications for the next round will open August 15.

INNovation Fund Round 1 Projects In Brief


The grant will create a constituent relationship management (CRM) tool. It will help plan content for maximum impact, linking their database on individual stories’ audiences and topics to efforts to distribute those stories to targeted readers or groups of readers directly as well as through their network of distribution partners in four bureaus.


The grant is to be used to create “FERN Talks & Eats,” an event featuring reporters presenting dramatic episodes about food and current food issues, paired with a chef who will produce related dishes for participants to eat.


The grant is to be used to create a collaborative project with NPR affiliate KUOW to launch a new branded series combining InvestigateWest’s reporting with KUOW’s larger audience.


The grant is to be used to create a weekly statewide radio program and follow-up IowaWatch-based public forums in cities where the program is aired.

Public Herald

The grant is to be used for a screening and discussion tour of its documentary “Triple Divide” through several key areas where hydrofracking is proposed across the US.

SF Public Press

The grant is to be used to launch a street mobilization program to increase visibility, expand audience and grow paid members/subscribers.

Southern California Public Radio

The grant is to be used to develop a scalable native underwriting campaign, while preserving public media’s common mission and values, to drive digital revenue growth.

WXXI Public Radio

The grant is to be used to develop and roll out a mobile app in English and Spanish to encourage and streamline aggregation of user-generated content, focusing on younger and under-represented community members.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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

About the Investigative News Network

The Investigative News Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to advancing excellence and sustainability in the nonprofit investigative and public service sector. INN was founded in 2009 to help the increasing number of nonprofit newsrooms produce and distribute stories with impact, achieve cost efficiencies by pooling resources, and develop new revenue streams to become sustainable businesses.  For more, visit or follow us on Twitter @INN.


Investigative News Network

Lisa Williams

617 319 0557

Knight Foundation

Anusha Alikhan

305 908 2646