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American Journalism Project Awards WFAE 'Transformational' Half-Million Dollar Grant

The American Journalism Project announced today that it is awarding WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR News Source, a grant of more than half a million dollars. The $590,000 will be used to enhance WFAE’s already impressive fundraising results and subsequent investments in local journalism.

The grant will be paid to WFAE over two years and will be used to fund the addition of key positions and expertise to WFAE’s fundraising team. These positions will focus on revenue generation outside of “traditional” public media fundraising.

“This is a transformational grant for WFAE,” said station President & CEO Joe O’Connor. “In the last six years, WFAE has been a public media leader in revenue and newsroom growth. This incredible grant from the AJP will turbo-charge our fundraising, which will, in turn, enhance our investments into local news programming.”

“The American Journalism Project gift highlights the strong national reputation of WFAE’s journalists,” said WFAE Board Chair Richard Lancaster. “It will lead to greater investment in the station’s local journalism and programming, which is so vital to the health of our communities. This really is a gift for all of us who are lucky enough to live or work here in the Charlotte region.”

The grant marks the first time the American Journalism Project is making a philanthropic investment in public media. Louisville Public Media is the other public media recipient. The public media grants are made possible in part by support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The Nevada Independent and Outlier Media, in Detroit, are the remaining grant recipients this year.

“We are very pleased to partner with the American Journalism Project in supporting the growth of local news through public media. We believe public radio stations are well positioned to play a key role in this space. With additional funding and strategic guidance from AJP advisors, entrepreneurial stations can become leading sources of local reporting for cities and regions across the country,” said Michael Murray, president of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

American Journalism Project CEO Sarabeth Berman added: “We are encouraged by the role WFAE and Louisville Public Media are playing as a source of vital, audience-centered civic news in their communities. Their work to date and their vision for the future demonstrate how crucial public media can be in solving the local news crisis.”

Since fiscal year 2015, WFAE has grown revenues from $4.7 million to more than $6.7 million in FY2021. This growth has been driven by 60% growth in contributors (15,000 in FY15 to nearly 25,000 in FY21).

WFAE’s strong fundraising results have fueled comparable staffing growth in WFAE’s newsroom. From FY15 to FY21, the staff positions in WFAE’s newsroom have grown from 17 to 31 (82%). This growth has resulted in more daily local news coverage, award-winning investigations and podcasts, new digital products, community engagement and training, and events.

“Louisville Public Media and WFAE exemplify public media stations’ commitment to local journalism. These innovative stations provide high-quality coverage of their communities through collaboration and lots of engaged journalism,” said Kathy Merritt, senior vice president of Journalism, Radio and Community Service Grant Services for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “They demonstrate potential for nonprofit news to serve the information needs of the American people. We appreciate the support of the American Journalism Project for these two public media stations.”

“The American Journalism Project grant provides the momentum we need to expand the scope of our journalism and community engagement,” said Ju-Don Marshall, WFAE’s executive vice president and chief content officer. “Over the next several years, we plan to create more solutions-driven reporting and conversations that address this community’s most intractable challenges. A wise person once told me that in order to do good as journalists, we must do well. This investment will help us do both.”

About the American Journalism Project

The American Journalism Project is committed to a vision in which an independent, resilient and ubiquitous civic press represents, informs and engages every member of the diverse public it serves. Founded by pioneers in nonprofit journalism, the American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy organization that makes investments in mission-driven nonprofit local news organizations and dynamic entrepreneurs, provides strategic support and is building a movement to reimagine the future of local news. The American Journalism Project currently supports 16 newsrooms around the country.

About WFAE

WFAE is a multimedia news organization serving the greater Charlotte region with an award-winning mix of local, national and international news and entertainment programs from NPR and other content partners. WFAE is licensed as the University Radio Foundation Inc. to broadcast in Charlotte at 90.7 FM, in Hickory at 90.3 FM, in Laurinburg at 106.1 FM and in Southern Pines at 93.7 FM. WFAE radio broadcasts serve more than 320,000 monthly listeners, with the station’s website, WFAE.org, reaching 350,000 monthly readers.