MLK50: Justice Through Journalism reporter Jacob Steimer (foreground at right, holding notebook) attends a community meeting for the Northside redevelopment project. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism has been awarded a $200,000 gift from the Ford Foundation to expand its editorial and business staff, officials at the foundation announced recently.

The investment by the Ford Foundation, an independent philanthropic institution, coincides with  a critical time in the digital news organization’s growth and as the public is demanding more balanced and nuanced reporting from outlets led by editors who are from underrepresented groups.

“Funding is a type of endorsement, and we’re delighted to get this vote of confidence from a philanthropic giant,” said Wendi C. Thomas, MLK50’s founding editor and publisher.

“Because our journalism is designed to disrupt the status quo, it can be difficult to raise significant funding from local institutions. That makes support from national players such as Ford all the more important.”

The Ford Foundation supports news organizations including the Center for Investigative Reporting, Mississippi Today, Press On and Resolve Philadelphia as part of its commitment to end inequality and advance justice. 

“The fearless reporting and investigative journalism produced by MLK50 brings to life critical issues and they produce news stories that not only inform the public, but that shift public policy, and ultimately advances change,” said Margaret Morton, director of Creativity and Free Expression for the Ford Foundation. “We need credible news outlets like MLK50 that elevate marginalized voices by highlighting the impact of poverty, unfair labor conditions and the deep rooted causes of strife. We are proud to support their work.”

The Ford Foundation is also a lead donor to the Racial Equity in Journalism fund at Borealis Philanthropy, which funds diverse and trusted community media and provides programming to help startup nonprofit newsrooms expand and grow. MLK50 was one of the REJ fund’s initial grantees

With its investment, Ford joins MLK50’s growing roster of national funders, including the Surdna Foundation, the American Journalism Project, Emerson Collective and the Inasmuch Foundation.

Founded in 2017, MLK50 is an award-winning nonprofit, digital publication focused on poverty, power and public policy  —  issues about which its namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., cared deeply. 

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

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