The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2021 National Fellowship will offer training, reporting grants of $2,000-$10,000 and six months of mentoring by veteran journalists to help journalists and their newsrooms report deeply and authoritatively on the health, welfare and well-being of children, youth, families and communities, as viewed through the lenses of COVID-19 and systemic racism. At a time of continuing collective national trauma, the 2021 National Fellowship will provide journalists a chance to step back from breaking news and take a deeper look at how the coronavirus pandemic laid bare pervasive social and economic inequities in the United States and the lasting health effects of systemic racism and exclusion. Fellows will learn from nationally renowned health experts, policy analysts and community health leaders, from top journalists in the field and from each other. Participants will “graduate” with a multitude of story ideas and sources and a thorough understanding of the root causes of ill health and disparities in outcomes and why the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on people and communities of color. Now in its 14th year, the National Fellowship annually offers five days of informative and stimulating discussions, plus reporting grants of $2,000-$10,000, engagement grants of up to $2,000 and six months of expert mentoring as Fellows work on ambitious explanatory or investigative projects. In all its training institutes, the Center emphasizes impact journalism, solutions journalism and community engagement approaches that help journalists to make a difference. To ensure the health of participants as the nation continues to confront COVID-19, the National Fellowship will again be offered a a virtual program over Zoom. The Fellowship will be held for six hours a day. In addition, Fellows will be required to participate in four remote programs once a month from August through November 2021. For our 2021 National Fellowship, the Center is soliciting project proposals to investigate and to explore the racial, ethnic and geographic health disparities that are emerging each day for vulnerable children, youth and families as the pandemic proceeds; unequal access to economic relief and recovery opportunities; the performance of local, state and federal government agencies and nonprofit organizations during the crisis; how communities of color are faring differently; what risks “essential workers” continue to face; and policy options to address the longstanding weaknesses in our social safety net that have been thrown into sharp relief by this crisis and that create uneven outcomes and opportunities for our nation’s families. Each Fellow must commit to the publication or broadcast of the project by December 31, 2021.Click here for a list of the 2020 National Fellows and links to their profiles and project descriptions. Click here to read the hundreds of impactful stories that our Fellows have produced over the years, spurring community conversations, influencing policy and winning journalism awards along the way.
In conjunction with the National Fellowship, we administer two funds that underwrite specialized reporting on domestic health and social welfare issues and a third fund that underwrites community engagement efforts:
- The Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism is a competitive grants program that supports substantive reporting on community health issues in underserved communities. Each Hunt grantee participates in the National Fellowship and receives a $2,500 to $10,000 grant, instead of the National Fellowship’s $2,000 stipend, to support reporting on a community health topic. The Hunt Fund supports investigative and explanatory projects that will broaden the public’s understanding of community health – examining how poverty, race, ethnicity, pollution, crime, and land-use and urban planning decisions influence the quality of life of residents as well as innovative ways to address these disparities. Past grantees have explored themes including environmental health; chronic disease and its disproportionate toll on certain communities; access to care for diverse communities; health reform innovations and challenges; and transportation challenges that interfere with prospects for good health. The Hunt Fund is supported by donations from The California Endowment and relatives and friends of the late Dennis Hunt, who co-founded the Center for Health Journalism.
- The Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, underwrites substantive reporting on vulnerable children and families. Each grantee participates in the National Fellowship and receives a $2,500 to $10,000 grant, instead of the National Fellowship stipend, to support investigative or explanatory reporting on the impact of poverty and childhood trauma, including youth as they transition into adulthood. Reporters may also choose to examine the performance of the institutions and government and private programs that serve these families. We’re interested in proposals for projects that look at child welfare and child health and well-being, including, but not limited to, the impact of toxic stress; the intersection between partner violence and child abuse; the role of policy in improving prospects for children, including those in juvenile detention; and innovative approaches to the challenges that children in underserved communities face.
- The Community Engagement Fund provides supplemental grants of $2,000 to underwrite innovative community engagement strategies. Click here to read more about how we define community engagement and what we’re looking for in community engagement proposals.
Who Can Apply:
The National Fellowship is open to professional journalists who work for or contribute to print, broadcast and online media outlets throughout the United States, including freelancers. Applicants do not need to be full-time health reporters, but should have a demonstrated interest in health, social welfare or child and family issues, broadly defined to include the health of communities (see more below).
We prefer that applicants have a minimum of three years of professional experience; many have decades. Journalists writing for ethnic media are strongly encouraged to apply. Proposals for collaborative projects between mainstream and ethnic news outlets receive preferential consideration, as do projects produced for co-publication or co-broadcast in both mainstream and ethnic news outlets. Freelancers are welcome, but need to have a confirmed assignment and should earn the majority of their income from journalism. Applicants must be based in the United States. Students and interns are ineligible.
Each applicant must propose a substantive report project that can be completed in the five months following the Fellowship session. For the 2021 National Fellowship, we will consider proposals for projects that:
- Investigate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and associated economic problems on disadvantaged populations, essential workers and communities of color
- Expose critical community health issues or explore the influence of social, economic and environmental factors on health, including social class; exposure to crime and violence; urban development, transportation or city planning; barriers to health care resources; exposure to toxins; and racial, ethnic, economic or geographic disparities.
- Explore child welfare, juvenile justice and child health and well-being issues, including, but not limited to, the impact of chronic stress and childhood trauma on child development; inequities in the juvenile justice system; the intersection between partner violence and child abuse; childhood obesity; the role of policy in improving prospects for children; and innovative solutions to the challenges facing children in underserved communities
- Investigate threats to the health and social welfare safety nets or illuminate health care innovations and reforms that benefit disadvantaged populations.
Knowledge and Skills: During field trips and seminars, participants hear from respected investigative journalists and leaders in community health, health policy and medicine.
Workshops provide practical reporting tips, expert sources, community engagement strategies and informed policy perspectives on the circumstances that shape health or ill health in communities across America, with a focus on children. Participants also gain insights into how to document health and demographic trends in their local communities through innovative storytelling and data visualization techniques.
Financial Support and Mentoring: National Fellows each receive a reporting stipend of $2,000 to offset the costs of ambitious investigative and explanatory journalism or grants of $2,500 to $10,000 from our two topic-focused journalism funds. The grants are payable either directly to the Fellow or his or her media outlet. Journalism fellows also receive six months of mentoring from senior journalists as they usher their projects to completion.
How to Apply
Click here for details about what’s required in an application. Please contact Martha Shirk at CAHealth@usc.edu if you have questions about your eligibility or what we’re looking for in a project proposal. We strongly encourage a conversation in advance of applying.