We received a large number of applications to this fund and are completing our review process. We anticipate providing updates to applicants on or before September 13.

The American Press Institute is now accepting applications from local and community-based news organizations throughout the United States to kickstart initiatives to strengthen civic discourse in their community.

Both nonprofit and for-profit news organizations may apply by August 21 by 8 p.m. ET for grants of up to $10,000 to be used over four months starting in September. The grant period will include virtual opportunities to share insights with other fund participants, learn from other civic discourse practitioners and develop new skills.

We anticipate the cohort will include up to 20 news organizations. We will prioritize projects that pay special attention to a diversity of voices and people. Projects can be new or build upon existing work. Experiments enabled by the grants should help news organizations learn and build toward sustainable civic discourse initiatives, ones that are in place for the 2024 election year and beyond. 

API is especially interested in civic discourse projects that deeply involve communities of color. We are also interested in projects that give voice and build bridges among other differences, such as religion, class, immigration status, language barriers, politics or more.

You can find participation details, eligibility requirements and more here.

“Freedom of the press is enshrined in our Constitution as a necessary element of democracy. That freedom brings with it the responsibility to be a convener and facilitator for an inclusive public square,” said Michael D. Bolden, API’s CEO and executive director. “That need has never been more urgent given the dangerous noise from misinformation, waning public trust in the media, and the stress we have seen placed on our democratic republic. Local news organizations must reclaim and reimagine that function, of connecting people and ideas, to help our communities thrive.”

Earlier this year, API gathered approximately 60 local news opinion editors and experts from outside journalism for an API Local News Summit on Opinion, Civic Discourse and Sustainability. This opportunity is open for initiatives that start in either “news” or “opinion” spaces, regardless of medium. 

This 2023 Civic Discourse and Community Voices Fund builds on prior API grant programs to enable and accelerate experimentation on critical challenges facing local news organizations in their connection to democracy. Since 2020, API has awarded 77 grants to news organizations to improve and innovate their coverage of elections and local governance.

“It’s critical that local news leaders assess how their organizations facilitate conversation in their communities, paying special attention to who is included,” Bolden said. “With the height of the pandemic behind us and an evolving social media landscape in front of us, new experiments in civic discourse are well-timed to build trust and authentic engagement, and point to sustainable futures for local news.”

Funders and other organizations interested in helping expand the Civic Discourse and Community Voices Fund may contact Michael D. Bolden, CEO and executive director, and Kevin Loker, director of strategic partnerships and research.

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute helps develop, support and sustain healthy local news organizations with a focus on civic discourse and democracy; culture and inclusion; community engagement and trust; and revenue and resilience. We believe that for democracies to thrive, people need accurate news and information about their communities, the problems of civil society and the debates over how to solve them. That requires a financially sustainable free press that reflects the diversity of American society and understands the needs of its communities. API is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance.

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