Independence Public Media Foundation Announces $4.3 Million in Grants for Creative Media Making Across Philadelphia

a woman smiling while operating a camera outside at the Constitution Center Mall

(December 17, 2019, Philadelphia) The Board of Directors of Independence Public Media of Philadelphia announced a new round of grants today, including $3.6 million to six organizations representing key partners for advancing the foundation’s vision for the Philadelphia region as a hotbed for creative media makers. Additionally, 17 organizations, either focused primarily on media, or that have innovative media projects, were nominated by community members to receive $25,000 grants each, totaling $425,000.
“With this round of grants, we are exploring the boundaries of creative media making, including media making for movement building, and community-led storytelling to bring new information and narratives to light,” said the foundation’s president Molly de Aguiar. She added, “We are committed to investing in the people and organizations who can build and strengthen networks, and foster wide-ranging, collaborative partnerships across the region.”
$2.6 of the $3.6 million in this round will support a large-scale collaborative project between Media Mobilizing Project, Free Press, and the Media, Inequality, Change Center (MIC), focusing on violence, safety, and the impact of criminal justice narratives on the region. The three-year project aims to understand how social change happens, the media’s role in creating obstacles and opportunities for change, and what innovative, community-centered media and media making can and should look like in the region. 
Based on outreach and relationship-building with residents and reporters, field scans and other research, the three organizations will tailor interventions with Philly neighborhoods and newsrooms to support communities in telling their own stories, amplifying their solutions, and changing culture and practices within local newsrooms.

The three other key partners in this round include:

  • The Leeway Foundation, which will create a program that pairs artists and social justice organizations to produce visually and/or narratively compelling storytelling that highlights and amplifies the organizations’ work. Additionally, Leeway will launch a program to help Philadelphia artists strengthen their use of media, while also increasing funds in support of media artists through their existing grants and awards programs.
  • First Person Arts will professionally digitize and archive the nearly 10,000 stories they’ve collected, develop programming with the newly created database, and make the archive available to researchers, publishers, news organizations, media outlets, producers, libraries and others.
  • WLVT will conduct a survey and analysis of the local content being created by independent artists, community organizations, and local arts and cultural organizations with the goal of successfully launching a television channel, WPPT, to distribute their work.

In addition to the creative media making grants, the Foundation approved grants to:

  • Chalkbeat ($250,000) - in support of Chalkbeat Philadelphia, a new education news nonprofit that is the result of a merger between Chalkbeat and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a 25-year-old organization founded by parents and concerned members of the public.
  • Resolve Philly ($25,000) - for additional capacity-building support.
  • NewsMatch ($10,000) - for matching funds to eight newsrooms in the region participating in this year-end fundraising campaign which encourages the public to support journalism. 

Independence Public Media will announce new funding opportunities for the region as it further establishes its grantmaking programs and hires staff.


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.

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