San José Spotlight has received a $500,000 grant from the American Journalism Project, the nation’s largest venture philanthropy dedicated to local news.
The grant will allow the South Bay’s only nonprofit newsroom to hire a revenue development professional and audience growth specialist to expand its reach—both topically and geographically. The American Journalism Project (AJP) announced four new grant recipients on Tuesday, bringing its portfolio of grantees to 31 and investments made to more than $30 million.
Over the next three years, the team at AJP will work with San José Spotlight to provide mentorship, support and guidance to achieve its growth and expansion goals.
“This really is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity that will take our impact journalism to the next level by allowing us to make some hires and double our revenue. We’re honored for AJP’s faith in us and to be among other amazing newsrooms throughout the country who are doing great work,” said Josh Barousse, San José Spotlight’s co-founder and executive director.
San José Spotlight began publishing in 2019, filling a critical gap in local news in America’s 10th largest city and earning a reputation for its accountability and investigative journalism. The organization, founded by two San Jose natives, relies on support from donors and philanthropy to fund its nationally-recognized work. San José Spotlight does not rely on advertising nor does it charge for access to its award-winning journalism.
“This significant investment in San José Spotlight is a testament to the excellent work our team is producing and puts San Jose on the national stage as a leader in local, nonprofit news,” said Ramona Giwargis, the organization’s co-founder and CEO. “This grant will allow us to grow our revenue and impact to build a sustainable news organization that will serve our hometown for years to come. It’s truly a game-changer, and we are so grateful to the AJP team for believing in us.”
The American Journalism Project was founded in 2019 to build the future of journalism by making transformative investments in nonprofit news organizations positioned for growth and supporting leaders as they grow and sustain their newsrooms. The venture philanthropy’s founders believe local news is a public good.
Other grant recipients announced Tuesday include Block Club Chicago, Sahan Journal and Spotlight PA. This marks the fourth time the American Journalism Project has provided funding to California-based news organizations, including previous investments in Cityside, inewsource and Open Campus.
In addition to the grants, the American Journalism Project also announced a new major funding partner—the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
“We are grateful for partners like the MacArthur Foundation who believe in our mission and the work we’re doing to rebuild this vital part of our democracy—they make our investments in local news possible,” said Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project. “Focused on, and working with, diverse communities, and leading in accountability journalism, Block Club Chicago, Sahan Journal, San José Spotlight and Spotlight PA represent the future we envision for local news. We are looking forward to supporting their growth and sustainability.”
This infusion of national money in San José Spotlight’s local newsroom is a major victory, its founders said, but it does not guarantee the organization’s long-term sustainability.
“We still need the support and generosity of our San Jose community to take us to the next level and ensure we are here to stay,” Barousse said. “It’s up to us to step up and make this incredible investment count.”