— Supporting journalism on city solutions —
About the Foundation
We build stronger communities by providing journalists travel grants to tell stories about how cities can work better for all their people.
The need is enormous — both for rebuilding local journalism and repairing the civic fabric of communities. Journalists are leveraging our travel grants of up to $1,500 to report on innovations and solutions that are working in cities, enabling good ideas to spread.
Why local journalism?
Local media is in crisis. The U.S. lost 2,100 newspapers from 2004 to 2019, and newsroom layoffs and closures only grew worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local news organizations were once strong, independent voices in their communities, uniquely positioned to challenge civic leaders to do better and stimulate learning from other communities.
Not that long ago, local newspapers regularly sent journalists to other cities to report on how they were solving problems. Today, those types of stories are gone — along with the newsroom travel budgets that made them possible. Neal Peirce Foundation travel grants enable legacy newsrooms to get back to doing this important work.
At the same time, there’s new opportunity in the small and growing ecosystem of local news startups, many of them nonprofits. According to the Institute for Nonprofit News, 33 local outlets launched between 2018 and 2020. They’re operating in 28 states and Washington, D.C.
By and large, these are bootstrap organizations with no resources to send reporters on the road. Our travel grants enable these young startups to raise their journalistic ambitions and jumpstart important conversations about how their communities can learn from others.
Cities and metropolitan areas are where our most complex problems — from health disparities to climate change to racial inequality — are most deeply felt.
They’re also where innovative solutions can help the most people. Unlike most of what politicians endlessly argue about in Washington, the decisions local leaders make about schools, policing, housing, jobs, transportation and more have a direct impact on peoples’ lives — every day. Local leaders are increasingly hungry to pursue innovative policies and programs, and eager to learn from and borrow ideas from other cities. Our travel grants facilitate this spread of ideas and help communities learn from each others’ experiences.
These are matters Neal Peirce cared about deeply. In his long career as a journalist, author and speaker, Neal became the leading authority on local innovations surfacing from the grassroots. His writings spread ideas and inspired civic leaders to work together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to solve problems and build inclusive communities.
Through these travel grants, we honor and advance Neal’s legacy and aim to inspire a new generation of journalists and civic leaders to build cities and metropolitan areas that work better for all their people.