API launches Election Coverage & Community Listening Fund

The deadline for submissions was 5 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 17. Funding decisions will be made by Wednesday, August 24, 2022, with applicants notified shortly thereafter. For any additional information or questions, please email .

The American Press Institute is launching a small grants initiative to help newsrooms improve and deepen their relationships with their communities in this year’s elections. 

The grants will be awarded as part of API’s Election Coverage & Community Listening Fund, a program aimed at empowering news organizations to implement community listening in their elections coverage between now and November 2022. We hope these efforts yield important lessons for 2023 and 2024 that can be shared through journalism networks and conversations facilitated by API. 

News organizations that have ideas for ways to forge stronger community relationships through deep listening and engaged reporting may apply for these grants of $1,500 to $5,000 per newsroom through August 17, 2022. 

As part of the program, API will also award up to 20 free one-year licenses for Source Matters, an API tool that tracks and improves the diversity of your news stories. Some recipients may receive both a grant and a free Source Matters license.

“Participating in our representative democracy requires access to accurate information about our communities, their problems and possible solutions,” said Michael Bolden, CEO and executive director of API. “With important elections on the horizon, we see an immediate need to help local news organizations think about coverage in ways that help their communities make informed election decisions through improved coverage for 2022 and beyond.”

Prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion

When selecting the participants, API will prioritize projects that seek to shore up trust and engagement among communities of color, and we are designating at least 30 percent of grant funds for ethnic media organizations. We encourage applications from nonprofit and for-profit local news organizations of any medium. With both the value of the free licenses and the grants, API is seeding the fund with $250,000, and will expand the initiative as other funders come forward. 

Project Examples

Through prior grants and other API listening programs, API has seen how even small experiments to begin greater engagement with communities can pay off in the long term, with new products, innovative coverage and potential revenue. Small grants API has offered in the past have allowed newsrooms to plant the seeds of innovation and to get “unstuck” from a status quo in coverage or in their business approaches. Some past success stories include:

  • Through API’s Ideas to Action program the Coloradoan in Fort Collins built a collaboration with Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation, CSU’s departments of Journalism & Media Communication and Political Science, local libraries and other Northern Colorado news sources to improve the local information ecosystem.
  • A small grant from API’s Trusted Election Network helped KALW in the San Francisco Bay area develop 7,000 print voter guides that volunteers hand-distributed to communities with the lowest voter turnout rates, getting information about the election to people who most needed it. 

Applications may include but are not limited to ideas for funding that cover: 

  • Stipends for qualitative interviews or focus groups
  • Tools that enable greater listening to audiences or communities
  • In-person event costs (for example, venues, food, etc.)
  • Time for staff or contractors to develop relationships outside of reporting stories
  • Promotion of voter guides or articles informed by listening

Sharing Lessons

Recipients chosen for the funding will have opportunities to share with peers what they are working on and learning through informal virtual events over the course of the project. Those insights and any associated written materials will be made public so that other newsrooms can learn from the experiences. API will facilitate peer-learning sessions during a three-month grant period as well as after the November 2022 elections. In addition to that, news organizations receiving the free licenses to use Source Matters will also share reports on what they learned. If you’d like to stay in the loop with upcoming lessons and insights, please subscribe to our Need to Know newsletter or follow us on Twitter.

If you are interested in financially contributing to the Election Coverage & Community Listening Fund, which will power the project funds for news organizations, contact Michael.Bolden@pressinstitute.org.