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Photo Courtesy of the Lenfest Institute.
Photo Courtesy of the Lenfest Institute.

New accelerator program provides grant funding and training to diverse Philly media entrepreneurs

The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange will support the region’s BIPOC media entrepreneurs through community partnerships.

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In Philadelphia, the city that gave birth to the nation’s democracy, the need to provide support in preserving the existence of that democracy is an ongoing endeavor.      

As the nation grows more and more diverse, the media has a continued dire need to reflect that diversity.

To help matters, on Dec. 16, the Lenfest Institute announced the official launch of the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange, a new accelerator program. 

The goal of the program is to support the region’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) media entrepreneurs through training, one-on-one coaching, and grantmaking.

More specifically, the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange program focuses on the urgent need and opportunity to support and advance more media entrepreneurs of color to ensure that communities prosper and news organizations can thrive and grow sustainably on their own terms. 

“Philly media entrepreneurs embody the vision of brotherly love and sisterly affection not only in the content they develop, but also in how they run their business and collaborate with communities,” said Roxann Stafford, managing director of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, in a press release. 

Participating businesses will receive $10,000 each and training in community-powered journalism, branding and marketing, audience and partnership growth, financial modeling, raising capital, executive leadership and emotional resilience. Participants will also receive personalized coaching to help advance their goals. 

In addition, participants will have the opportunity to receive grant funding to help execute their plans, with a total of $80,000 being able to be shared between grantees. 

“Through this initiative, we will provide targeted support to independent media entrepreneurs to authentically tell their stories and meet the information needs of their communities.” said Shawn Mooring, Lenfest Institute Program Director. 

The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange was born out of the recognition that Philadelphia benefits from a thriving media ecosystem that diverse media entrepreneurs will greatly benefit from additional support, celebration and community that this program will seek to provide. 

In addition to that, the program will also seek to:

  • Build avenues for increased participation, shared power, and support for media makers and who have been challenged to access existing funding mechanisms
  • Create lower-barrier access to financial support for media makers that preserve autonomy; create space to work, be creative, and rest; and move people and organizations toward sustainability
  • Provide mentorship and technical support for media makers that are responsive to their needs at multiple stages of professional and business development
  • Support and facilitate greater collaboration, not only in service of journalistic storytelling, but also in service of business development
  • Establish dedicated infrastructure to support media entrepreneurship

​​The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange is supported by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, and the Independence Public Media Foundation.

Self-identified media markers whose businesses are beyond the concept stage of development are encouraged to apply. The program is open to both entrepreneurs and and intrapreneurs working in news and media organizations with enterprising endeavors.

Applications will remain open until Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. To apply for the Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange program or learn more about it, click here.

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