When my Dad died in December 2019, two thoughts overwhelmed me.
One was that he’d had a wild ride in life, a grand time. He shared this with me on the porch overlooking his beloved Newfound Lake one glorious August afternoon, the sun at his back. “If I died now, it would be OK — look at all I’ve gotten to do! How lucky I’ve been!” He actually said that.
The other thought was that he wasn’t done.
He’d been in motion all his 87 years, out the door and on the road to give a speech or research a book or a column. I couldn’t imagine him still — stopped.
Wouldn’t it be something if we could find a way to capture his energy and passion, so that the dialogue he sparked in his writings about cities, journalism, democracy, and more could continue?
So we started The Neal Peirce Foundation.
Our first initiative speaks to Neal’s deeply held conviction that the most important stories in American civic life are in our cities — and that the only way to tell them properly is to be on the ground, and interviewing local leaders, grassroots activists, and other urban changemakers.
The plan is to award grants to journalists to fund travel so that they can go out as Neal did and write the undertold stories of how to make cities and their metro regions work better for all their people.
There are so many of these types of stories to tell — just as newspaper and other journalism travel budgets are slashed or eliminated altogether. Our hope is that these grants will help keep city-focused stories percolating in the media and published widely. And continue furthering the goal Neal always said was behind his journalism: to “cross-fertilize ideas” and “to show the amazing new forces at work at the local level.”
We wanted you to be among the first to know that we’re here and primed for action — as Neal always was! We’ve been recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 nonprofit, and are preparing to launch our first round of travel grants (a handful this year, and exponentially more in the coming years).
Please join us in spreading the word by forwarding this email to colleagues and friends, sharing the website link [nealpeircefoundation.org] on your social media platforms, and talking up Neal and our efforts at the picnic table, the beach, or wherever else you may happen to be this summer.
And if you know of any journalists who might be looking for help covering travel expenses for a cities-focused story they’re eager to tell, let them know that the applications for our Journalism Travel Grants will be going live later this month.
Together, let’s take some steps that honor Neal! We’ll continue his legacy.