Like everyone else, Independence Public Media Foundation had ideas and plans for 2020 that have been upended by COVID-19, and we have been hustling to reimagine and redesign our work this year.
Unlike most, however, we occupy an exceedingly rare position of privilege with the funds and flexibility to respond boldly. Every day, but especially now, philanthropy has both an opportunity and a moral imperative to shift power and resources to fight the root causes of injustice and oppression. For us, this means investing in community-led and community-owned media and media making for equity and justice. We also believe that how we fund is as important as what we fund. We stand in solidarity with our grantees.
This is what IPMF has committed to so far in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- We gave all of our grantees, including those with multi-year project grants, the option to convert their grants to operating support, and we are encouraging them to share any emergency needs and requests they have. We also eliminated their interim reporting requirements, and assured them not to worry about changes to the timelines and deliverables of their original grant agreements. When they are ready and able to return to their projects, we will be there to support them.
- We have signed a pledge of action alongside other funders and the Council on Foundations to “act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19.
- Our board has approved a grants budget that is more than double what is required of us this year.
With these funds we intend to:
- Make trustworthy news and information, translated in multiple languages and provided in a variety of formats, available and easily accessible to people across the region, with a special emphasis on understanding and fulfilling the ongoing and evolving information needs of our most vulnerable communities in the region.
- Support journalists, artists, and nonprofits to galvanize community media making and storytelling during this crisis. We want to help people, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic, feel visible and heard by funders, policy makers, and others with power and authority. We also want to encourage creative expression, fostering understanding, and connecting with others in this time of physical distancing.
- Invest in the long-term resilience of community-centered communications infrastructure, such as community access media and low power FM radio.
- Provide support for equipment, online services, and digital literacy training for grassroots community organizing for racial, social, and economic justice in the Philadelphia region.
- Remain open and agile this year to new opportunities, creative ideas, and community needs.
Further, we pledge the following:
- As we have specifics about how and what we're supporting, we will update our website, and share that information publicly.
- Make ourselves as accessible as possible. Although we don't have a grant application process in place at the moment, you can contact us with your ideas and questions, and we can also connect you to our partners* and information that may be useful. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond.
- Tirelessly advocate for community-led media and media making that supports community power and self-determination.
We invite our funding colleagues across the region to join us in supporting the journalism, storytelling, and information initiatives that are saving lives, keeping people connected during this pandemic, and helping us imagine a better, more just world.
*In 2019, we partnered with Bread & Roses Community Fund, Digital Literacy Alliance, Leeway Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Scribe Video Center to re-grant funds for a variety of opportunities for artists, journalists, and grassroots groups. These grant opportunities are continuing in 2020. Additionally, we will continue to look for partners and opportunities to make funding available through multiple pathways, and we will update our website as soon as we have more specific information.