Folks march down Poplar Avenue during the “Our Now, Our Future” march for Black children at Overton Park in June 2020. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

The Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy has awarded $3.6 million in grants to 28 news organizations serving communities of color across the country, including MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. 

This year’s grantee cohort serves audiences who have all been historically underserved by mainstream media: Black, Native, and Latinx people, immigrants, refugees, rural communities, and low-income people.

This is the second year that MLK50 has received funding from the REJ Fund, which was started in 2016 under the leadership of longtime journalist and news entrepreneur Tracie Powell. 

The Ford Foundation has been a key partner in the REJ Fund, committing $6 million over three years.

“Philanthropy is past due in supporting the bold leadership of nonprofit journalism. To be clear – we can’t afford to scale inequality by only funding news organizations serving predominantly white Americans at scale. We must scale people of color serving organizations as well,” said Farai Chideya, program officer, Creativity and Free Expression, Journalism at the Ford Foundation, a lead REJ Fund donor. 

“People-of-color-serving media has always been a critical source for community information. If we want to build an equitable and inclusive future, we must fund diverse and trusted media, now and into the future.”

REJ’s two years of support makes it MLK50’s largest funder,  said Wendi C. Thomas, the news organization’s founding editor.

“While many funders talk a good game about equity, REJ puts that into practice with its focus on publications led by people of color,” Thomas said. “These are almost always the outlets that have historically received the least resources, yet manage to produce important and valuable work.”

The REJ Fund launched in September 2019 with an initial cohort of 16. Since then, the fund has provided general operating support as well as capacity-building resources so that grantees can invest in their sustainability. 

This year’s grantees are: The Atlanta Voice, Buffalo’s Fire, Cicero Independiente, Documented, El Informador, El Tecolote, Enlace Latino NC, Epicenter-NYC, Flint Beat, Georgia Asian Times, QCity Metro, Houston Defender Newspaper Inc., Hylo News, Indian Country Today, International Examiner, Jackson Advocate, La Noticia, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, MIWISCONSIN MEDIA INC, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, PULSO, PushBlack, Sahan Journal, South Seattle Emerald, St. Louis American, The TRiiBE, and WURD.