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Engagement grants FAQ

Tell me about the Center for Health Journalism’s engagement grants.

With the generous support of the Blue Shield of California Foundation and The California Endowment, the Center for Health Journalism has offered community engagement grants since 2014, along with mentoring by our Community Engagement Editor. The grants are usually $1,000 to $2,000. Only journalists selected for a reporting fellowship are eligible to receive a community engagement grant. Equipment, supplies, travel, food for community members and compensation for speakers represent common expenditures for fellows who have received engagement grant funds in the past.

What is engagement?

Engagement is journalism. It is journalism that explicitly provides community members with avenues to participate in, contribute to or shape the reporting prior to publication. Engagement can also involve decision-makers in new and creative ways.

This kind of storytelling can take many shapes, but here are some examples: Soliciting community questions or concerns to shape a story, inviting residents to participate in testing for pollution in their homes and schools, creating a platform for people to tell their own stories, or bringing together diverse constituencies to launch conversations about solutions. This approach can help journalists find sources, discover new angles, learn about a topic, build an audience, tell richer stories and — most importantly — spark impact and connection.

Here are some examples of engaged journalism projects supported by the Center for Health Journalism:

Noting that teenagers’ voices are often sidelined in conversations about sex ed, Fresno Bee reporter Mackenzie Mays used several engaged journalism techniques to anchor her reporting in their experiences. A survey of teens distributed by student government leaders, listening booths at youth organizations, and focus groups with students connected Mackenzie with her community in news ways. Read her essay on how engaged journalism transformed her relationship to reporting.

Arizona Republic reporter Bob Ortega combined deep investigative reporting on the disproportionate rates among Latino children of injury and death from traffic accidents with a community engagement campaign that raised awareness of the importance of using car seats.  Ortega built a coalition of community groups to disseminate the findings from his reporting and ran a public education campaign, which included the distribution and installation of free car seats.

How do I apply?

If you are applying for a California fellowship, go here.

If you are applying for a National Reporting Fellowship, click here to access the separate application for a Community Engagement Grant.

What makes a good application?

We encourage you to:

  • Keep it simple. You have limited time to complete this project.

  • Have a good idea on how the impacted community of story will actively shape the journalism.

  • Have a sense on how you will continue engaging with participants after the reporting is done.  

We discourage you from:

  • Focusing on distribution, translation or digital presentation.

  • Proposing a panel, at least not without a larger plan.

  • Overemphasizing the role of tools such as Hearken or Ground Source.

Here are some more resources to explore.

Gather platform

Listening Post Collective’s Playbook

The Continuum of Engagement

Journalism That Matters


In this webinar, two of the country’s leading health care policy reporters will give fellow reporters a behind-the-scenes look at how they track news developments, ferret out original stories and stay on top of their beat every day. Sign up here!

Want to improve your data journalism skills?  Apply now for the 2018 Data Fellowship -- four all-expenses-paid days of training on data acquisition, analysis and visualization, plus a $2,000-$4,000  reporting grant and six months of expert mentoring.  Dates:  October 17-20. Deadline: August 27 for California journalists, Sept. 7 for journalists from other states


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