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Applications open for $1M Challenge Fund to hack journalism education


Journalism educators can now apply for a $1 million challenge encouraging universities to create teams that will experiment with new ways of providing news and information, run by the Online News Association, the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.

The competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education is the brainchild of a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund.

The fund will support live news experiments that further the development of teaching hospital models in journalism education, in which innovative projects are created by teams of educators, students, professionals, technicians and researchers. Micro-grants of up to $35,000 each will be awarded to 15 to 25 projects to be completed during the 2014-2015 academic year.

“Your project should stretch the limits of what you think you can do,” said Irving Washington, ONA’s director of operations and Challenge Fund administrator, in advising applicants. “Don’t be afraid to fail. The goal is to empower journalism schools to lead professional innovation and thought leadership. The size of your school or program shouldn’t limit the project’s ambition.”

Teams will be selected based on projects that show the most potential for:

• encouraging collaborative, student-produced local news coverage
• bridging the professor-professional gap
• using innovative techniques and technologies
• producing shared learnings from their digital-age news experiments

The competition will culminate in at least one substantial grand prize for the project most likely to change either local newsgathering, journalism education or both. An overall prize will be given for the best project evaluation, regardless of the experiment’s outcome. The winners and their projects, chosen in consultation with academic advisers and ONA leaders, will be featured at upcoming ONA conferences and other news media education events.

To apply, and for FAQs and resources, visit: For questions, email

Deadline: Feb. 13, 2014. Winners will be announced in April, 2014.

Follow the conversation on #hackcurriculum.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


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