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Engagement grants FAQ

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

The Center for Health Journalism has offered community engagement grants since 2012, along with mentoring by our Community Engagement Editor. The grants are usually $1,000 to $2,000. Only journalists selected for a reporting fellowship or a grant from our Impact Fund 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. Engagement grants are supported by a generous grant from The California Endowment and our engagement mentoring is supported by a generous grant from the Blue Shield of California Foundation. 

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


The deadline is Friday, December 14, to apply for the 2019 California Fellowship, which provides $1,000 reporting grants and six months of expert mentoring to 20 journalists, plus community engagement grants of up to $2,000, plus specialized mentoring, to five.  


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