NewsFuel on pace with plans to develop grant matchmaking platform


NewsFuelNewsFuel, an Accelerate Local project to develop a news grant matchmaking platform, anticipates hitting important milestones before the holidays: the selection of a design firm and the creation of advisory panels from across local media.

NewsFuel launched with the announcement of funding received from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in late October. The project will enable news organizations to source and apply for journalism grants much more easily, and help funding organizations identify a wider range of qualified potential candidates to award grants for locally-oriented journalism. A public-facing launch is targeted for Spring 2020.

In the first major step, the selection of a design firm to complete the design and development of the platform’s initial iteration happens next week. Three top-quality firms have responded to LMA’s request for proposals, all submitting strong bids describing how they would tackle this project.

The other major milestone soon to be met involves the creation of two advisory panels by Dec. 20: news leaders from across U.S. local media outlets, and grant-makers from various foundations and charities that fund journalism as part of their mission. Both groups will provide insight, advice, and guidance on NewsFuel’s initial design and build, ensuring the platform delivers a quality user experience, and ultimately, effective outcomes, for both user sets.

Accelerate Local has identified a number of advisory panel participant prospects and recently began outreach. If you are interested or know of someone who would contribute well to the process, please contact either Jed Williams (jed.williams@nulllocalmedia.org) or Peter Newton (peter.newton@nulllocalmedia.org).

In the first phase, NewsFuel will add approximately 8,786 organizations to the funding database, including 1,286 daily newspapers, 1,383 TV affiliates, about 1,000 news radio affiliates, plus 600 or more local digital publishers and about 4,500 public TV and radio affiliates. The first-year goal is to consummate 20 grants to approximately 15-20 news organizations. By its third year, Accelerate Local has set a goal of funding 1,000+ journalism jobs through its platform.

This project is built to enhance democracy and local community quality of life via more and better local reporting and local investigative reporting. For funding organizations, it saves time and increases the likelihood of meeting a grant’s objectives. For news organizations, NewFuel is a centralized, easy-to-navigate grant marketplace, advisory service, and resource.

Read more: Newton and Williams recently did a Q&A to provide deeper context on NewsFuel’s vision, mission, and goals.