Wyss Foundation Grant Helps Expand the Fund for Environmental Journalism

The Wyss Foundation has joined the Grantham Foundation for the Environment and dozens of individual donors to support the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Fund for Environmental Journalism.  The Wyss Foundation’s support is enabling a significant expansion of the Fund for Environmental Journalism.

SEJ announced today that, with the expanded Fund, it is providing two new grants to news organizations for two new full-time reporting positions, two new competitive rounds for grants up $5,000, as well as travel fellowships to support diverse participation in SEJ’s 25th Annual Conference, October 7-11, 2015 in Norman, Oklahoma.

The two new, full-time reporting positions are being awarded to the nonprofit High Country News to establish a Washington DC bureau, and the Los Angeles Times, for stories from a new bureau based in the West that otherwise would not be funded.  All journalism supported by the news organization grants will be made available free of any charge to the public.

“SEJ’s goal with the Fund is to build more and more capacity for environmental coverage,” said Beth Parke, SEJ’s executive director.  “We are grateful to the Grantham Foundation for the Environment, Burning River Foundation, Cornelius King Foundation, hundreds of individuals and now the Wyss Foundation for sharing this vision. Who’s next?”

Established in 2010, SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism has distributed more than $100,000 in mini-grants for winning projects proposed by journalists.

Major expansion of the Fund for Environmental Journalism has been made possible for 2015 by a grant of $385,000 from The Wyss Foundation, for work to advance public understanding of land use issues in North America, broadly defined, by strengthening credible and robust news coverage of the environment.

Foundation grants from Wyss, Grantham and others for the Fund will also enable SEJ to award grants of up to $5,000 on a competitive basis through the Fund for Environmental Journalism’s Summer and Winter 2015-2016 rounds.  For the first time, project budgets submitted by freelance journalists and nonprofit news organizations can include line items for personnel time in addition to travel and other direct expenses. Follow @SEJorg and visit sej.org in May for details applicable to July 15 and November 15 FEJ story project deadlines and fellowship opportunities.

“Quite simply, SEJ’s groundbreaking Fund for Environmental Journalism helps make possible important reporting projects, while protecting journalism’s core values of editorial independence and public service,” said Jeff Burnside, President of the Society of Environmental Journalists board of directors.

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism has been a welcome contribution to this field. Over the last five years hundreds of staff jobs in journalism have been eliminated from print, broadcast and online newsrooms. Independent freelancers and nonprofit operations — both veteran and start-up — have increasingly filled the gap. Throughout 2015 SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke will be working to invite more donors into the business of underwriting new journalism projects through the Fund.

Founded in 1990, the Society of Environmental Journalists is the world’s oldest and largest educational membership association of journalists who cover environment-related issues. The organization’s continuing mission is to strengthen the quality, reach and viability of environmental journalism in all media, to advance public understanding.

LandWhitner Chase