Grant aids Berkeleyside's bid to turn readers into investors

By Matt DeRienzo | Sep. 22, 2017

The Lenfest Institute, a Philadelphia-based foundation set up as part of the Philadelphia Inquirer's switch to being owned by a nonprofit, has announced $1 million in grant funding to support local journalism innovation and sustainability efforts.

The grants, funded in part by the Knight Foundation, include support for a LION member's efforts to get have readers become investors in California local independent online news site Berkeleyside.

Berkeleyside's "direct public offering" is the first of its kind for a local news site. It's goal is to raise $800,000 in investments of $1,000 or more from readers and community supporters. It has raised nearly $600,000 so far from 226 individuals.

The Lenfest grants will also fund projects benefiting Billy Penn in Philadelphia, led by LION member Jim Brady, and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, led by LION member Maria Archangelo.

Another recipient is the News Revenue Hub, which is helping news organizations, including those led by several LION members, launch paid membership programs.

“Building a strong future for local journalism is essential to creating more informed and engaged communities. These ideas capture the kind of innovation and experimentation that are required to keep pace with new information needs in Philadelphia and across the country,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism, in a press release announcing the grants.