Round 3

Encino, Calif., April 15, 2015 — The Institute for Nonprofit News (formerly the Investigative News Network) announces eight INNovation Fund winners in its third round of funding, for a total of $223,820.

With the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the fund was established to spur business innovation and experimentation in nonprofit newsrooms that are focused on audience engagement and long-term sustainability.

“We are pleased with the depth and breadth of these awards that reflect the enthusiasm with which INN members embrace innovation,” said Brant Houston, chair of the INN board. “And we thank the Knight Foundation for their crucial support that helps our members advance in the digital journalism world.”

The eight finalists were chosen from a pool of 38 proposal submissions. The chosen projects vary from events to citizen journalism to mobile app development, all with the aim to increase audience reach and/or engagement.

“The INNovation Fund continues to be a great opportunity for newsrooms who dare to experiment with journalism and new revenue streams, and an important model for those who want to learn from these experiments,” said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation program officer for journalism.

The eight winners are:

Banyan Project — — $35,000 to create a digital tool that fosters engagement in the comments section of a news site and ultimately create a paid membership model around it. Its Engagement/Conversion Digital Tool-Set will be used in all of this news co-operative’s affiliated sites, using technology to better target and categorize comments for increased engagement and developing metrics to build membership. It will also be made available to anyone using the Largo WordPress CMS.

Connecticut Health Investigative Team —— $20,000 to plan a daylong health fair targeting a quarter-million new consumers of health insurance in Connecticut, many of whom are not taking advantage of the annual wellness check benefit. C-HIT will engage readers on social media to help develop the agenda, and partner with corporate sponsors and exhibitors, including the largest health insurer in the state.

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) — — $30,610 to begin a membership program that both sustains the topical nonprofit’s work in the long term and creates a mutually beneficial, customized relationship with specific subsets of the specialized, mostly professional audience working in juvenile justice, tied to their individual financial capability and interests.

Investigative Post — — $35,000 to leverage its social media reach using paid Facebook and Twitter posts and see whether this is a legitimate and financially feasible approach to building audience loyalty for a regional nonprofit news brand.

New Jersey Spotlight — — $35,000 to stage a one-day multi-tracked event entitled “The Symposium for NJ Cities.” This event  will convene local, state, and perhaps national leaders along with interested citizens to share plans, success stories and discuss needs of major New Jersey cities on a multitude of critical civic issues.

Seattle Globalist — — $17,210 to organize a series of community media training workshops on a variety of skills. These workshops will train new and interested citizen journalists from a multitude of diverse backgrounds who contribute to its daily publication, and will generate revenue from workshop fees.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting — — $31,000 to develop a mobile app, Stories for Service, that will enable younger military veterans of Iraq and Afghan wars to use the camera, text and recording features to record their story. Students from West Virginia University will help curate the stories and prepare for airing.

WyoFile — — $20,000 to conduct a ‘road show’ to far-flung parts of Wyoming to greatly expand their audience. Funds will support travel and promotion of five events.

This is the third of four grant rounds of the INNovation Fund. Applications for the final round will open August 3, 2015.


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 Institute for Nonprofit News

The Institute for Nonprofit News (formerly 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.



Institute for Nonprofit News

Brant Houston



Knight Foundation

Anusha Alikhan

305 908 2646