INN Welcomes 13 Participants to Nonprofit News Springboard Training Program

Challenges abound when conceptualizing a new nonprofit news outlet or navigating the early days of a launch. INN created the Nonprofit News Springboard to boost the skills of people facing those challenges through coaching on business planning, leadership, and funding strategies as well as connection with a supportive community of nonprofit news leaders.

“Forming a value proposition, navigating fundraising and communicating vision is complicated, and early-stage nonprofit news leaders are called on to wear dozens of different hats,” said Sara Shahriari, INN’s director of leadership and talent development. “Springboard connects these leaders to each other and provides strategies and support to help their organizations thrive.”

This program is free of charge to selected participants and is funded through the generosity of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“INN’s objective for the Springboard program is to provide these news entrepreneurs with the fundamentals for success early in the life cycle of their organizations, to accelerate their journey through the start-up phase when organizations are most vulnerable,” said Fran Scarlett, INN's chief knowledge officer.

The Springboard cohort of thirteen new founders will meet over three sessions in September:

Sonam Vashi is an award-winning freelance journalist in Atlanta who's written for the New York Times, Atlanta Magazine, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Columbia Journalism Review and several others. She usually writes about inequity in criminal justice, socioeconomics or immigration in Atlanta, where she’s lived nearly all her life. Previously, she worked at CNN. With five others in 2020, she co-founded Canopy Atlanta, a nonprofit magazine that involves community members in the process of journalism. Canopy Atlanta is a digital magazine launching fall 2020 that tells stories about metro Atlanta in collaboration with our communities. Each issue focuses on a different local neighborhood, where residents work with established journalists to assign, tell, and present stories about their community.

Margaret Coker, the Editor-in-Chief of The Current, started her two-decade career in journalism at Cox Newspapers before going to work at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She led a team of Wall Street Journal reporters named as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 2017. Margaret’s journalism has led to criminal trials and regulatory investigations of global banks and financiers, the dismissal of 14 corrupt police officers and freedom for three people wrongly convicted and incarcerated. She came home to Savannah in 2019 to launch The Current to revive an investigative news culture in Coastal Georgia. The Current, a nonprofit and nonpartisan community-funded investigative news organization, is working to fill the news vacuum for the approximately 800,000 residents of Savannah and Coastal Georgia by covering local stories ignored by other media. Led by some of the state’s most experienced journalists, it examines government waste and corruption, education, healthcare, environment and social justice.

Nina Misuraca Ignaczak is the Founder of Planet Detroit, a startup that tells Detroit's environmental stories while building an engaged community of readers. A veteran journalist, her work has been published by Huffington Post, Crain's Detroit, Business Insider, Detour Detroit and Belt Magazine. She won first place for environmental journalism from the Detroit Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for her reporting on grassroots solutions to environmental injustice on Detroit's east side. Planet Detroit is a news organization focused on local environmental journalism. It publishes a weekly newsletter update to help residents get smarter about the environment in Detroit and Michigan. Planet Detroit focuses on explanatory, solutions-based and investigative reporting and has a deep commitment to community engagement around local environmental issues.

Vandana Kumar has a 33-year track record in the publishing industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents Magazine in 1987 and published an award-winning print magazine from April 1987 to Dec 2017 before transitioning to a fully digital nonprofit model. Vandana has won the Asian American Hero Award from the County of Santa Clara and the Leadership in Business award from the California Legislature Assembly. India Currents is a community media platform devoted to the exploration of the heritage and culture of India as it exists in the United States. India Currents has published a print magazine from April 1987 to Dec 2017. Fully digital today, it has the largest following among Indian media in the US.

Eric Persons is an independent consultant working with a diverse group of journalists and community leaders to launch The Central Current in Syracuse, NY. Originally a television news professional, Eric has more than twenty years of experience developing programs that intersect community engagement, economic development, public policy and international affairs. At Syracuse University, Eric led a diverse portfolio of community initiatives that raised more than $55 million and redefined the University’s relationship with the local community. He also directed the Office of Government and Community Relations, overseeing the University’s lobbying efforts and serving on its senior leadership team until 2017. The Central Current is a nonprofit digital news organization providing balanced, fact-based news, opinion and analysis about issues, events and cultural happenings in Central New York. The outlet will be an independent resource for journalism providing multimedia content that reflects the region’s diversity and helps residents to be well-informed, engaged citizens.

Robert Moore has been a journalist for 37 years, most of it in El Paso. He currently is president and CEO of El Paso Matters, a nonprofit news organization he founded in 2019. He was part of a ProPublica team that received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award this year for stories documenting failures with the Border Patrol. He was on the Washington Post team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for coverage of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. In 2013, he was presented the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Foundation. El Paso Matters is a member-supported nonpartisan media organization that uses journalism to expand civic capacity in our region. El Paso Matters informs and engages with people in El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and neighboring communities to create solutions-driven conversations about complex issues shaping the region.

Karen Lincoln Michel, Ho-Chunk, is President of Indian Country Today. Most recently, she served as Publisher and Editor of Madison Magazine and is a past president of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Board of Directors. She is a former executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, Louisiana, and a former assistant managing editor of the Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette. Michel started in newspapers at the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune and went on to The Dallas Morning News. She has written extensively about Native American issues as a freelancer and was a columnist for The New York Times Syndicate. Indian Country Today is a multimedia news site that covers Indigenous issues, written by Indigenous journalists. Based at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, ICT produces a 30-minute weekday newscast that airs on Arizona PBS World and reaches more than 75 million households through the FNX network.

Keri Mitchell spent 15 years dedicated to community and civic journalism at Dallas’ Advocate magazines and launched Dallas Free Press in early 2020 with the belief that all neighborhoods deserve reporting and storytelling that value their communities and hold leaders accountable. Her nerdy passions include color-coding spreadsheets of FOIA data and rifling through archive collections to unearth gems. Among her notable projects are a retrospective on Dallas schools 40 years after desegregation; an examination of why a Baptist church decided to marry and ordain LGBTQ members; and an investigation of how suburbanites cheat their way into an acclaimed Dallas magnet school. Dallas Free Press’ nonprofit journalism amplifies voices in disinvested neighborhoods and explores solutions to our city’s systemic inequities. This will be done with community journalism efforts in the West Dallas and South Dallas neighborhoods, and by building a local media collaborative to tackle complex civic issues that emerge from community coverage.

N. Alejandro Riano is a Colombian journalist with radio, print and television experience. When he moved to the United States, he became co-creator of a show called “Nuestro Patio” at WORT-Community Radio at a time when there weren’t many other Spanish-speaking radio shows. He taught as a Spanish-speaking instructor at Madison College and was promoted as Administrative Specialist. In 2009, Riano wanted to find ways to connect with the community and began planning MIWISCONSIN.COM. In 2020, community need, immigration-related issues, pandemic news and the absence of local Spanish-speaking media pushed Riano to move to a nonprofit corporation to find more communication resources for his community. MIWISCONSIN.COM is a website with a multi-streaming concept and innovation in Hispanic media. It started as a Facebook page created by Riano and grew as a media outlet in Spanish during the pandemic.

Tammy L. Wise is an entrepreneur, business developer and marketer, with a proven track record for generating sales and helping companies grow. Prior to working with The Land, Tammy was publisher of FreshWater Cleveland and owner of a custom publishing company that she sold in 2010. The Land is a local news startup that reports on Cleveland’s neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs. It delivers in-depth stories that foster accountability, inform the community and inspire people to take action.

Georges Budagu Makoko is the co-founder and publisher of Amjambo Africa. He is also the founder of Ladder to the Moon Network, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about African immigration to Maine. Georges was born in Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Rwanda in 1994 due to political unrest in his country. He graduated from the National University of Rwanda in Business Administration and moved to the United States in 2002, where he sought and received asylum. He is the author of "Ladder to the Moon: Journey from the Congo to America," a book about his life. He strongly believes in advocating for peace, reconciliation and justice for all. Amjambo Africa launched in 2018 as a monthly print publication and added an online site the next year. It covers stories about immigrants and immigration that rarely appear in Maine's mainstream news publications. Amjambo Africa publishes articles in six languages — English, Swahili, French, Kinyarwanda, Portuguese and Somali.

Christopher Tyree’s cameras and pens have carried him to report on stories on nearly every continent and be published in hundreds of the world's leading periodicals and broadcast networks. He’s an investigative multimedia journalist, documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked for more than two decades in Virginia. He’s also worked for about 15 years with and for nonprofit organizations. He is a co-founder of Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism and the organization’s executive director and president. The Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism is an independent, nonprofit newsroom, drawing on the resources of veteran journalists and advanced university students to cover stories vital to the commonwealth.

Alex Lash has been a journalist for more than 25 years, covering the rise of the internet; the development of genomic medicine; the science and strategy behind biotech startup companies; and more. In 2016, he realized that San Francisco, his hometown, suffered from a lack of diverse local journalism to address its rapid changes and discontent. Using free tools, and working nights and weekends, he cofounded The Frisc, leaning on experience to dig into SF’s complex problems, such as homelessness, with real human impact. He has worked on The Frisc full-time since 2019 and lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughters. The Frisc (think "Frisco" without the O) is independent, reader-supported, and dedicated to San Francisco's major civic issues: housing/homelessness, the state of our streets, the struggles of small businesses and more. With every report, story, and investigation, we strive to help our readers build a more affordable, diverse and livable city.