The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: May 13, 2019 (11:59 pm Eastern)

  • FIJ Seeks Grant Proposals

    WASHINGTON — The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) is seeking grant proposals for independent investigative projects from journalists who need support for travel and other reporting expenses.

    The deadline for proposals is 5 p.m. EDT, Monday, April 30.

    FIJ is interested in proposals that break new ground and expose wrongdoing. Projects relating to government accountability and environmental issues in the United States, local or regional stories with national implications, and applications from ethnic media are strongly encouraged.

    This year, the Fund for Investigative Journalism is also putting out a special call for investigative proposals on two separate topic areas: 1) economic inequities in America, or 2) climate change issues.

    FIJ’s grants are made possible through generous funding from the Park Foundation, the Green Park Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, and the public.

    The Fund is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the Journalism Department in the College of Media at the University of Illinois.

    For more than forty years, the Fund for Investigative Journalism has supported work by independent and freelance reporters who do not have the resources to do their investigations. Grants average $5,000. The maximum grant is $10,000. The awards support the costs of reporting, such as travel and document production expenses. Small stipends will be considered as part of the overall award.

    If the proposed project addresses an issue that has already been in the news, the applicant must acknowledge the work previously done, and explain how the project would break new ground.

    FIJ accepts applications through its website, Applicants are encouraged to contact executive director Sandy Bergo with questions about the process.

    In partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors, the FIJ also matches grant recipients with veteran journalists who serve as mentors, at the recipient’s request.

    The Fund depends on donations from foundations and individuals. Donations can be made online or by mail to The Fund for Investigative Journalism, 529 14th Street NW – 13th floor, Washington DC 20045.

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    For further information contact:

    Sandy Bergo


    National Education Writers Award

    Mc Nelly Torres of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting has won a citation for investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association. This is the second national education reporting citation for Torres. Her story, School of Hard Financial Knocks, exposed how Florida schools diverted federal money intended for education reform to cover general operating expenses. The investigation was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

    The American Way of Eating

    2012 Tracie McMillan – The New York Times likes her new book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.” From the Times review: “The news Ms. McMillan brings about life on the front lines is mostly grim… She names names… [Her] book is lighted from within by anger at the poor food options many in this country face.”

    From Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster: “In 2009, Tracie McMillan embarked on a groundbreaking undercover journey to see what it takes to eat well in America. For nearly a year, she worked, ate, and lived alongside the working poor to examine how Americans eat when price matters. From the fields of California, a Walmart produce aisle outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a New York City Applebee’s, McMillan takes us into the heart of America’s meals. Along the way, she asked the questions still facing America a decade after the declaration of an obesity epidemic: Why do we eat the way we do? And how can we change it?”

    Homeowners’ Revolt

    2012 Christopher Ketcham – The cover story for the January 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine is “Stop Payment!” which discusses efforts to rally homeowners to fight back and file lawsuits, if their mortgages were packaged for sale as financial products. Leading the efforts, and Ketcham’s story, are the people behind the National Homeowners Cooperative and the website Protect America’s Dream. Ketcham also discusses the landmark Landmark National Bank v. Boyd A. Kesler decision, in Kansas, which was one of the first rulings to note that packaged mortgages had failed to maintain properties’ title chain.

    Oakland Building Services Abuses

    Oakland Local – A continuing series of stories  exposes the city’s Building Services division’s unfair treatment of property owners. The department is supposed to tackle blight and enforce housing codes, but in so doing, has caught fire for “imposing excessive fines, allowing inspectors to intimidate and threaten property owners.” It has also angered property owners for its “frequent use of prospective liens – an aggressive and punishing code enforcement warning that most cities don’t even use.”

    Our Youngest Killers

    Sarah Favot, Kirsten Berg and Jenna Ebersole for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting –  The application of Massachusetts law passed to crack down on juvenile “super predators’’ has produced profound inequities.

    “One 16-year-old went looking for pot at a Brookline High School graduation party, then shot the guest of honor in the chest when he got a racial slur instead. The other 16-year-old stabbed a man 23 times inside his Springfield apartment, returning the next day to steal things from the victim’s home while his body lay nearby.

    Both crimes were horrific, but the punishments were strikingly different. The murderer in Springfield, Edgardo Rodriguez, accepted a plea deal for the 2004 killing of Joel Rivera Delgado, allowing him to potentially walk free within the next decade.

    The other teen, Antonio Fernandez, took his 2002 case to trial and received the harshest juvenile sentence Massachusetts permits — the harshest in the country, in fact — for shooting Perry Hughes: life in prison without the possibility of parole. Until then, Fernandez had never been charged with anything worse than stealing video games. Now, he’s sentenced to die in prison.”

    The Making of a Tea Party Governor

    Colin Woodard – Portland, Maine – An investigative profile of Maine’s governor, written for The Portland Phoenix, explains how an improbable candidate and the Tea Party movement combined to win Paul LePage state-wide office. “[Paul] LePage’s actions in his first year in office suggest  that his poverty-to-power experience has led him to see the world from the top  down, and that helping the poor is best done by helping those who employ them  and by withdrawing support that might tempt them to depend on others, rather  than by working hard and earning the attention of benefactors. His journey  through the decline and collapse of Maine’s old industrial economy appear to  have taught him that environmental and labor protections kill jobs.

    Oakland Building Services Abuses

    Oakland Local is publishing a continuing series of stories exposing the city’s Building Services division’s unfair treatment of property owners. The department is supposed to tackle blight and enforce housing codes, but in so doing, has caught fire for “imposing excessive fines, allowing inspectors to intimidate and threaten property owners.” It has also angered property owners for its “frequent use of prospective liens – an aggressive and punishing code enforcement warning that most cities don’t even use.”

    “Overeducated”? – Rush Limbaugh Slams Author

    Tracie McMillan’s “The American Way of Eating” has hit a nerve. The New York Times review of her book investigating the food industry praises her approach as forthright and “lighted from within by anger.”

    According to the Times, the book is a “brutal takedown of corporations” that cheat food workers out of pay and supply Americans with poor quality food.

    Rush Limbaugh has a different view.  On his radio program, he slammed the award-winning McMillan as an “authorette” who is “overeducated.” Limbaugh’s commentary is infused with worries that her expose might provoke government intervention in the private food industry.

    A grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism helped McMillan in her research for the book; she is now a fellow with one of FIJ’s partners, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.