The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is inviting nonprofit newsrooms and newsrooms that serve underrepresented communities to apply for the Sustainable Publishing Solutions (SPS) grant. Now in its second year, this opportunity will offer 26 publishers with a one-time catalytic grant of $20,000 that can be applied to the adoption or management of a Content Management System (CMS) of their choice.   

The call for applications is now open. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m PT.

All proposed budgets must follow this template. To preview the application questions, click here.

Please note that existing SPS grantees are not eligible for this opportunity.


Webinars

Interested applicants are encouraged to watch recordings of the following webinars: 

Information Session with the News Revenue Hub and The Miami Foundation

This overview session was hosted by program partners the News Revenue Hub and The Miami Foundation. The session covered the grant goals, requirements, and reporting process.

Migrating to a new CMS? Here’s what you need to know. Hosted by News Catalyst

Transitioning to a new system may be an overwhelming project with many moving parts. If you’re not sure where to begin, join the News Catalyst team for a lively discussion that will cover how to choose a CMS, staffing considerations, evaluating your digital priorities and more.  


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About the Grant

Scroll down for general FAQs.

The SPS grant is designed to help news organizations to invest in their technical infrastructure and adopt publishing tools that prioritize audience and revenue needs alongside editorial content production. Selected grantees can use grant funds towards the migration to a new CMS or build upon their existing publishing platform. Applicants will be required to explain how an investment in a new or improved content management system will help their organization increase revenue, grow audience, and improve user experience.

Over the next few days we’ll be releasing more information including: 

  • Preview of application questions 
  • Blog post dissecting what goes into a strong application 
  • Submission form 

FAQs 

Who can apply for this grant? 

This opportunity is open to:

  • Nonprofit news organizations; and/or
  • News organizations that are led by or serving people of color; and/or
  • News organizations that serve underrepresented communities including rural areas and news deserts

What do you mean by a “catalytic grant”?

We know that $20,000 may not cover the full cost of a CMS migration or build out. This grant is designed to help your organization jump start that process so funds can be used for development costs, migration, hosting, or ongoing maintenance fees. Additionally, funds can be allocated towards staff or technical consultants who will specifically be working on development or migration. 

Can organizations outside of the United States apply?

This opportunity is for U.S.-based news organizations.

What CMS is right for my organization? 

In addition to the webinar that the News Catalyst team hosted, they put together a comprehensive guide to different content management systems. Check it out here. We also encourage you to read their post on key factors to consider when migrating to their CMS.

How will organizations be selected? 

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of industry experts that have experience working with web development, nonprofit publishing, and revenue growth. Reviewers will be evaluating each application in three core areas:

  1. Strength of the application: Is there a clear vision for how the CMS will improve their business model? Did the organization research the best platform for their business?
  2. Readiness to receive funding: Are they in a position to deploy funds immediately? Additionally, how do they plan to maintain costs after the grant period ends?
  3. Impact on the industry/thought leadership: Will they be a role model for their peers in the industry and are they likely to share best practices?

Read more about last year’s selection process here.

When will the grants be made? 

Grants will be distributed by The Miami Foundation, a Knight Foundation partner, 4 weeks after the selected organizations are announced.

Will the grant funding be given to the news organization or will it go directly to the CMS provider?

Grants will be given to the selected news organizations.

If my organization applied last year and was not selected, can we reapply? 

Yes, we encourage you to apply. Existing grantees are not eligible for this one-time, non-renewable grant.

What if I’m satisfied with the CMS I’ve been using for years? Can a news organization put the funding toward their existing CMS expenses or do they have to be moving to a new or improved platform?

One of the objectives of this opportunity is to provide news publishers with the ability to scale and grow their business and audience. If adding major business development functions to your existing CMS will help you accomplish that goal, please describe that in the application.

How are the News Revenue Hub and The Miami Foundation involved? 

The News Revenue Hub was tapped by Knight to help manage the call for applications and provide training for the grantees on utilizing business and audience development tools and building lasting strategies. The Miami Foundation is the grant partner that will manage final grant agreements and disbursements of funds. Both organizations are neutral partners that are not involved in the selection process. 

Have additional questions? Please contact hello@fundjournalism.org.