Who We Are
The Fund for Investigative Journalism provides grants and other support to independent journalists and news organizations to produce high-quality, unbiased, nonpartisan investigative stories that have an impact.
We provide support directly to investigative journalists for news stories, books, documentaries and podcasts that uncover wrongdoing by powerful people or institutions. Our Board of Directors, comprised of highly accomplished journalists, scrutinizes every grant application and approves those that are most likely to have an impact. The grants we provide cover the costs of investigations – gas money to interview sources, fees for copying open records, stipends for the hundreds of hours reporters spend digging through data.
The Fund for Investigative Journalism was founded in 1969 by the late Philip M. Stern, a public-spirited philanthropist who devoted his life “to balancing the scales of justice.” Stern was convinced that small amounts of money invested in the work of determined journalists would yield enormous results in the fight against racism, poverty, corporate greed and government corruption.
Stern’s theory proved true in the Fund’s first year, when our small grant of $250 enabled reporter Seymour Hersh to begin investigating a tip concerning a U.S. Army massacre at the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Our subsequent grant of $2,000 allowed Hersh to finish reporting the story. His coverage received a Pulitzer Prize and marked a turning point in public opposition to the Vietnam War.
In the years and decades since, the Fund for Investigative Journalism has made it possible for reporters to expose campaign finance scandals, unlawful prison conditions, civil rights violations, environmental abuses and much more. Stories published with our support have sparked reform at the local, state and federal levels, led to resignations and arrests of public officials, and triggered changes in practices of corporations and government agencies alike. Stories produced with our support have been recognized with virtually every major award in journalism, including multiple Pulitzer Prizes.
In just the last year, stories we supported helped spark a package of reforms to North Carolina’s sexual assault laws, new legislation protecting low-income homeowners in Michigan, a state legislative review of racial bias in traffic stops and searches in Washington State, lawsuits from Alaska to New Hampshire, and a local ordinance requiring the charter schools in the District of Columbia hold open meetings.
We’ve recently expanded our work to provide additional support to journalists, particularly as the field of journalism is experiencing significant challenges. The size of our grants has increased, now up to $10,000, and we also connect grantees with editorial support through our cadre of seasoned journalists serving as mentors and legal support through our partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. We also manage a diversity fellowship program that produces high-quality investigative reporting while helping increase diversity within the field.
The stories we support run in a wide range of media outlets. Recent stories have been published in the New York Times, USA Today, the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald and FiveThirtyEight. Some of our stories are published by nonprofit media outlets or collaboratives at the local, state, and national levels. Books we supported have received Pulitzer Prizes, including in 2019, and documentaries we supported have aired on PBS and opened this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Many of our grantees say their stories would not have been possible without the Fund for Investigative Journalism’s funding and support.