Center for Health Journalism 2021 Impact Fund

The USC Center for Health Journalism's 2020 Impact Fund provided reporting support to journalists who think big and want to make a difference in California communities. We welcomed applications from journalists or newsrooms that want to tackle ambitious investigative or explanatory projects – by themselves, as a newsroom-wide undertaking or as a collaboration with other media outlets in their communities.

Click here to read about the 2020 Impact Fund grantees and their projects.

The Fund invited proposals that illuminate our national and state debates on health care policy and the impact of ongoing or proposed changes to the social safety net. The Fund also supports groundbreaking reporting on the health of underserved communities. It helps journalists bring untold stories to light and to investigate promising approaches to chronic ills. Projects must focus on California health issues and be published or broadcast either by a California media outlet or a national outlet with a substantial California audience.

Explorations range from a look at environmental conditions where people live and work to the impact of race and ethnicity on health, or how poverty and education can shape wellbeing. We were especially interested in investigative or explanatory reporting projects that advance public understanding and health policy for underserved or vulnerable populations, which could include people living in low-income neighborhoods, rural areas, prisons, foster homes, juvenile detention centers or homeless encampments.

The Fund aims to advance what the Center for Health Journalism calls “impact journalism,” which marries powerful narratives, data and community engagement to serve as a catalyst for change. The deadline to apply is October 16, 2020. In both 2018 and 2019, the Fund awarded reporting grants of up to $10,000 each to support health projects put forward by individual reporters, intra-newsroom teams and multiple newsroom collaboratives.  Click here to read about the 2019 Impact Fund grantees and their projects. Click here to read about the 2018 Impact Fund grantees and find links to their projects

Who's Eligible?

Preference will be given to mainstream-ethnic media collaborations. California-focused projects may be proposed either by journalists at California-based outlets or at national outlets. Students are not eligible, and preference is given to reporters who have a staff newsroom affiliation. 

Depending on the scope of the project, competitively selected grantees receive grant funds of $2,000 to $10,000. We also provide six months of mentoring while grantees work on their projects, providing guidance on everything from story development to mapping out how to tackle reporting, to ways to improve storytelling.

Keep in Mind

These funds are not meant to replace salaries or freelance fees, although we are willing to consider allowing the grants to supplement income in some circumstances. Funds are principally meant to augment news organizations' resources — or to facilitate a collaborative project among outlets — to take journalism to a higher and more impactful level. Among the appropriate publishing- or broadcast-related expenses would be travel, data set acquisition and analysis, videography, environmental or health testing and translation services. We generally do not fund the "tools of the trade," such as laptops or video or photographic equipment. The size of the requested grant should be commensurate with the scope of the proposed project.  Projects must be published or broadcast within six months of receiving a grant award.

The 2018, 2019 and 2020 Impact Fund grants were made possible thanks to the generous support of The California Wellness Foundation.

In 2019, with support from the California Health Care Foundation, the Impact Fund also supported a news collaborative reporting together on the state's uninsured. The project is called "Uncovered California." 

How to Apply

We will be seeking proposals for the 2020 Impact Fund in late summer/early fall 2021. Click here for details about how to apply for a grant from the Center for Health Journalism Impact Fund. To strengthen your chance of being selected, we recommend that you schedule a conversation with us to discuss the your proposed project. Write Martha Shirk at to schedule a conversation.