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New Grants for Women Media Entrepreneurs

October 22, 2009
For immediate release

For more information, contact:
Jan Schaffer 202-885-8100

Washington, D.C. - J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University has received a $200,000 grant from the McCormick Foundation to fund eight women-led start-ups over the next two years that will generate new ideas in the world of news and information and model a spirit of journalistic entrepreneurship.

The grant also supports annual New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summits. The first summit, to be held Monday, Nov. 9, in Washington, D.C., will provide a forum for women launching innovative news projects to meet and exchange ideas. During the summit, J-Lab will release new research about women news creators and news consumers. See the agenda and register here:

Under the new grant, a total of eight winners (four in 2010 and four in 2011) will be given $12,000 each in funding to launch their ideas and to blog about the process during the first year of their projects. The deadline for next year’s proposals is April 12, 2010.  See guidelines and applications here:

The funding is part of a unique initiative to address issues of opportunity and innovation, recruitment and retention for women in journalism. Under the initial support from the McCormick Foundation, six projects have been funded and three have launched. See them at

The new grant from the McCormick Foundation:

  • Provides a $12,000 award for each of eight women to launch their new ideas. Four winners will be chosen in 2010 and another four in 2011.
  • Honors a New Media Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in an awards program.
  • Produces a day-long annual summit to showcase the work of women media entrepreneurs.
  • Collects ideas, research and more at

“Our new research is giving us important insights into how women news creators are redefining and shaping the news of the future,” said Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, which administers the project.

“We are pleased to work with J-Lab to recognize the most innovative and entrepreneurial media projects created by women journalists,” said Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation’s journalism program director.  “The expansion of this initiative reflects the interest, need and demand for promising new ideas.” 

Eligible to apply for NMWE funding are new Web sites, mobile news services or other ideas that offer interactive opportunities to engage, inspire and improve news and information locally, nationally or among a community of interest. These can be solo ideas or team projects headed by women.

NMWE seeks to map the creative assets of women, validate ideas, and help newsrooms take some cues from big business, where top companies are disproportionately tapping women to develop creative, consumer-oriented cultures.

Check out existing research, suggest new research, nominate award winners and read the funding guidelines at

The McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative is a project of J-Lab, a center of American University’s School of Communication. J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use new media technologies to create fresh ways for people to participate in public life. It also administers the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, the Knight Citizen News Network and the New Voices community media grant program.

The McCormick Foundation supports free, vigorous and diverse news media that provide citizens the vital information they need to make reasoned decisions in a democracy. The Journalism Program supports non-profit initiatives that enhance news content, build audiences and protect the rights of journalists.

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