Part 3: What to Expect From Our Grantmaking in 2024 and Beyond

Two people posing on a blanket at a picnic

Part 1: Why We’re Updating the Language We Use To Talk About Our Work
Part 2: How Community Partners Guided Our Refined Grant Strategies

Before I jump into our grantmaking schedule and details, some big picture information that we’re pretty proud of:

  • In 2023, IPMF invested $9.8 million in community media and internet. This represents 8.63% of our endowment—well above the IRS-required minimum of 5%.
  • In five years, we have invested $50 million total in support of our mission to move resources within the Philadelphia region toward community-owned media and internet, catalyzing movements for justice through narratives that educate, inspire, and encourage action toward a more liberatory future.
  • In addition, we offer robust support for services and programming to current grantees to help them with organizational needs that they identify, including leadership development and succession planning, financial management, evaluation and impact, and communications and messaging support.
  • Two of our grantmaking cycles are led and decided entirely by community members (Local Filmmaking Fund and Community Voices Fund). In full transparency, these two funding cycles, currently totaling $1.3 million, represents a fairly small percentage of IPMF’s overall funding. The bulk of our funding supports multi-year operating support grants to our key partners, and at this time, IPMF program staff and board are making these decisions.

And now to our grantmaking schedule for this year and into the future:

As a young foundation, we have been experimenting with our grantmaking processes, and we acknowledge that our grant cycles have not adhered to a predictable schedule each year, which has likely been frustrating to potential applicants and current grantees. This year and going forward, grantees and applicants can expect the following grant cycles from us each year, and that the schedule will remain consistent, to the best of our ability, in future years.

The cycles are listed in the chronological order in which you can expect them each year.

Local Filmmaker Fund

  • One year grants to support new or existing local filmmaking projects.
  • Examples: Narrative, documentary, and experimental films in support of BIPOC storytelling.
  • Process: This is an open call process, available to any local filmmaker who would like to apply. The decision-making process is facilitated and led by local filmmakers, many of whom are past filmmaker grantees.
  • Timeline: Expect the application to open in late January (this year, January 26) and close about a month later (this year, February 26). We will also host office hours to answer your application questions. We expect decisions to be made by the panel by mid-March, after they’ve had a chance to read and discuss all of the proposals. We will work to send notifications (including to those applications that have not received funding), and grant payments out in the following 2-3 weeks. 

Key Partners

  • Operating support grants, typically multi-year, for organizations that are key to our mission and vision.
  • Examples: community media centers / community media infrastructure (Scribe, PhillyCAM, low-power FM radio stations, film festivals), organizations that address harmful journalistic practices (Resolve Philly), community internet (Philly Community Wireless), youth media (Big Picture Alliance), community media making for social justice movements (Spiral Q), and narrative shift work around prisons, policing, and community safety (Movement Alliance Project, Free Press, and the Media, Inequality and Change Center).
  • Process: This is an invitation only process, and decisions are made by staff and board.
  • Timeline: Applications are due late March, program staff will have conversations and visits with grantees in April and May, and final decisions will be made by the end of June* each year. Notifications and grant payments will be sent out shortly thereafter.

* In some years, it may not be possible for the IPMF board to meet by the end of June, and decisions may be pushed to July.

Community Voices Fund

  • One year grants that support a variety of new or existing community storytelling projects.
  • Examples: Community archives or history projects, topical reporting or other topical media making projects, podcasting projects, etc.
  • Process: This is an open call process in which any Greater Philadelphia nonprofit or fiscally-sponsored organization/project with a media-focused project can apply. Decisions are made by a rotating committee of community members, who are primarily former Community Voices Fund grantees.
  • Timeline: Application opens in early August. We will host office hours shortly after the application opens to answer your questions. The deadline to apply will be mid September, and then a panel of community members meets in early October to make decisions. Notifications will be sent out by mid-October with grant payments made shortly thereafter.

Responsive Grants Fund

  • Small, responsive grants available to current grantees only. These funds are intended for emergency support, helping a project across the finish line, or investing in a timely opportunity. We anticipate that grants will be limited to $20,000 or less.
  • Examples: Legal support for a film, emergency support for organizations impacted by unforeseen events, etc. Please note, these are not intended as sponsorship dollars for grantee events / galas, nor for operating support. The emphasis is on timely or emergency support needed.
  • Process: This is a staff-led decision-making process.
  • Timeline: We will accept inquiries on a rolling basis through our website, and endeavor to make decisions quickly. In certain circumstances, we may defer a decision, which we will communicate in a timely manner.

All of this information is intended to be an overview, not an exhaustive explanation for what you need to know to apply for a grant. Rest assured we will share more details on our website and on social media as each cycle comes up, and we will hold office hours to field your questions. And if you still have questions after that, you can send them to us at


Although transparency isn’t “officially” one of our five values, it is something we hold dear and do our best to practice, so our team hopes you have found this 3-part series useful.

2023 was a year of organizational maturation for IPMF. Along the way, we had—and I believe will continue to have—many good, and sometimes hard, and always thought-provoking conversations about philanthropy, governance, imagination, shared power, and distributed leadership. One result of those conversations is that staff (all six of us!) are committing to publishing more about our work from our individual perspectives and expertise, and also documenting more of our internal processes and policies for transparency and accountability. We look forward to sharing much more with you, and also to having ongoing dialogue with you. 

Photo Credit: cinéSPEAK

Molly de Aguiar headshot

Molly de Aguiar

Molly leads the Independence Public Media Foundation with 18 years’ experience in thoughtful, responsive philanthropy, and expertise in supporting community-owned and community-driven local media. 

Before IPMF, Molly spent 12 years at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she launched and directed the Informed Communities program, which attracted partnerships with national funders and helped New Jersey become a model for local journalism innovation. She also served as the first Managing Director of the News Integrity Initiative, a globally-focused philanthropic project, at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. She co-founded the Local News Lab, sits on the board of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, and writes and speaks frequently about reimagining philanthropy.

Stay in Touch

Sign up for our Community Zine to get notified of available grants and stay up-to-date on grantee work.