Fellowships & Grants: Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of Fellowships and grant opportunities do you offer? 

We annually host three Fellowships. Our California Fellowship is offered to journalists in the Golden State wanting to pursue enterprise projects on health and health inequities. Our National Fellowship is for reporters from across the nation who are pursuing groundbreaking reporting on health disparities and coverage focusing on children, youth and families. Our Data Fellowship teaches journalists essential data analysis skills in service of tackling a big health project. 

We also offer a variety of grant opportunities from our Impact Funds on an annual basis. Topics vary, and interested reporters should visit our Fellowships and grants page for more information.

I have a full-time job in a newsroom. Do reporters work on Fellowship projects on their personal time, or during the work day? 

The majority of our Fellows are full-time journalists working in newsrooms. Before accepting a reporter into our program, we require their editor to pledge their support and ensure the reporter will be afforded the time to complete their project during work hours. We never want Fellows to work on their projects on their own time and uncompensated. 

Where can I read examples of Fellowship projects?

We’ve been supporting journalists for many years and have produced thousands of stories. You can read all of them here. We know sorting through that many stories can be overwhelming. If you’re an applicant looking for examples on a specific topic covered by Fellows in the past, search by one of the topic areas or reach out to our staff by emailing editor@centerforhealthjournalism.org and we can help direct you. 

Why should I apply to one of your Fellowship opportunities? 

We’re dedicated to aiding the professional development of journalists across the country at no financial cost to newsrooms. Through our programs, Fellows gain confidence, skills, sources, and new storytelling approaches on the circumstances that shape the health of residents of their community. There is also plenty of fellowship and community-building among our classes, with participants gaining new perspectives and new colleagues. The program also provides technical advice that helps Fellows enhance their skills and advance their careers.

What is ‘Impact Reporting’? 

Most reporters would tell you that their proudest career moments come from telling stories that create a positive change in their communities. At the Center for Health Journalism, we embrace this sentiment and through years of work, have developed what we call the “Impact Reporting” model, which combines powerful narratives, unassailable data and community engagement. 

The best examples of this model have changed laws, influenced policy, raised public awareness of critical health issues and amplified community voices. 

What is a ‘Senior Fellow’? 

A Senior Fellow is an experienced, professional journalist who coaches and mentors our Fellows through our Impact Fund and Fellowship programs. Senior Fellows offer reporters valuable guidance and expertise, helping them understand how to maximize the impact of their project, connect and engage with communities to inform reporting and go deeper on projects than they might have otherwise. 

Can I still work during the Fellowship week? 

Our Fellowship training institutes are week-long programs that we spend a lot of time and energy planning so that they are valuable to our Fellows. The sessions run about six to eight hours daily with breaks. To fully absorb and appreciate this professional development opportunity, we expect participants to be free of assignments and focused on the Fellowship program. 

Fellowship eligibility

I’m a student. Am I eligible to apply to your Fellowships? 

Our Fellowships are open to U.S.-based professional journalists writing for U.S. media outlets. Students are not eligible to apply. 

I’m a freelancer. Am I eligible to apply for your Fellowships? 

Freelancers are welcome to apply, but they must have a confirmed assignment with an outlet to be considered for acceptance. This includes a signed editor checklist and letter of recommendation. Freelancers (and editors at outlets) should know that our reporting stipends are not meant to substitute for regular freelance pay. Instead, those funds can be used for reporting expenditures such as travel, database acquisition and translation. 

I’m not a health reporter. Am I eligible to apply for your Fellowships? 

Yes. We embrace a broad definition of health and the belief that it is shaped by our environment — our schools, our neighborhoods and our communities. In accordance, we admit reporters across a spectrum of beats and train them to view their beats through a health lens. Some of our very best Fellows have never formally covered health in their careers before our Fellowship. 

Are your Fellowships better suited for journalists from large or small newsrooms? 

Our Fellowship opportunities offer valuable mentorship and support to reporters from newsrooms where there’s lots of editorial support or minimal resources. We welcome journalists from newsrooms both large and small. We have admitted reporters to our Fellowships from national outlets with hundreds of staff members to local newsrooms where there’s just one or two reporters on staff. 

How many years of experience should a journalist have to be considered for a Fellowship or Impact Fund grant? 

For most Fellowships, we prefer for candidates to have a minimum of three years of professional experience. However, our programs are not only designed to aid the professional development of young journalists. Many seasoned reporters with decades of experience and major journalism awards on their resumes have taken part in our Fellowships and tell us they find them invaluable. Our programs allow reporters at different stages in their career to step away from their newsrooms to hone their health reporting skills and think big. Our individualized mentoring is tailored to the skill level of each reporter. 

Are there specific topics I need to report on to be eligible for your Fellowships?

All of our Fellowships vary slightly in terms of the stories we’re interested in supporting. In general, we support stories that embrace our broad definition of health and shine a light on the root causes of ill health, such as systemic racism, poverty, trauma, barriers to healthcare access, the built environment, housing and food insecurity, unemployment, lack of education and exposure to community or domestic violence.

The application process

What’s involved in the application process for your Fellowships and Impact Funds? 

Our application process varies slightly depending on the Fellowship or Impact Fund to which you are applying. In general, we will always request the following documents: 

  • A Personal Statement and Project Proposal: This document should include a description of the project applicants are pursuing and demonstrate that the journalist has done at least enough reporting to know that the topic constitutes a substantial project. 
  • Deliverables Statement: This document must include the number of stories you’ll be reporting, and tentative story themes or focus, including any multimedia elements you plan to incorporate (photos, video, audio, graphics, etc.).
  • Proposed Budget: We require Fellows and Grantees to provide us with a grant amount they are requesting and a rough breakdown of how they plan to use the funds.
  • Clips: Three samples of your most recent work
  • Letter of Reference from an editor
  • Signed Editor Checklist
  • Resume 

I’m having trouble putting together a budget. How detailed should it be? 

We’re looking for a rough idea of how our financial support would aid your reporting. Here is an example of a budget drafted by an accepted applicant to give you an idea of what a successful budget looks like. 

Example: Basic Budget with Reporting Detail

What assistance can the Center for Health Journalism offer me as I apply? 

We offer all our Fellowship applicants the opportunity to speak with our staff about their project proposals before applying. We strongly encourage applicants to take advantage of this opportunity because it provides them with a thorough understanding of what we are seeking in a successful project proposal. (It also gives applicants the best opportunity of being accepted.)

How are Fellows and Grantees selected? 

Grants and Fellowships are competitive. The Center for Health Journalism convenes a panel of senior journalism judges with subject matter expertise to thoroughly review all applications and inform the Center's selection. The Center will award Grants and Fellowships in its sole and ultimate discretion. 

Reporting stipends

How much are your reporting stipends? 

Stipends and grants vary depending on the program to which you are accepted. In general, they range from $2,000 to $10,000. We recommend applicants visit the individual pages for the program to which they are applying for more information about stipend and grant amounts offered. 

How is the reporting stipend meant to be spent?

Generally speaking, stipends and grants provided for our Fellowship and Impact Fund programs are meant to defray extra costs of reporting. They are not intended to supplant salaries or freelance budgets or to represent a payment for a story or project. Reporter stipends and grants include funds for common reporting expenses, such as traveling to reporting locations, purchasing datasets, and covering the cost of translating projects into different languages, as well as compensation for a final essay for CenterforHealthJournalism.org related to the project and partnership with the Center.

For reporters awarded a community engagement grant, common expenditures include equipment, supplies, travel, and food for community members attending engagement events.

I’m a freelancer. Can I use the reporting stipend as part of my pay? 

We firmly believe that freelancers should be compensated fairly for their work by the outlets that contract with them. We discourage freelancers from using their stipends, meant primarily to defray the cost of reporting, as compensation. 

If the Fellowship is in-person, is my reporting stipend meant to cover the costs of travel? 

No. For all our Fellowships, we cover the cost of the hotel, airfare, meals, and tuition. 

I’ve been accepted! How and when do I get paid? 

In order to receive payment from USC, the recipient of the stipend must register within the university’s supplier network, which is available by invitation only from a member of our team. The university payment process takes anywhere from two to four weeks. To expedite payment, we recommend Fellows and Grantees register to the supplier network upon notification of being accepted into our program. Fellows and Grantees should also let us know to whom the stipend is being paid. 

The stipend can be paid to the Fellow or Grantee as an individual (which is considered taxable income) or it can be paid to your news organization. The next steps would be provided based on to whom the payment should be made.

In general, Fellows and Grantees can expect to receive one-third of the grant soon after the program begins, with the remainder paid upon publication or broadcast of their completed project by the program deadline. Participants who do not meet the program deadline risk not getting paid, as our grants close.