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Masters Mediapreneurs Initiative

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism funded four U.S.-based news startups that showed promise of journalistic value and creativity and were launched by encore media entrepreneurs, age 50-plus.

This project was intended to test-drive possibilities for Baby Boomers seeking to jumpstart next acts that involve participating in the media. Applications were accepted only from those who are spearheading the projects and who are at least 50 years old.

The four projects selected launched in 2015. Each project received $12,000.

Download a preview application: Encore Media Entrepreneurs Preview Application (doc).

Support for this project comes from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

Questions? Email J-Lab Director Jan Schaffer at jans (at) j-lab (dot) org.

What are the specifics?What exactly are we looking for?What else do you need to know?JudgingApplication Preview

Who: Eligible to receive funding are individuals, age 50-plus. Only startup news initiatives can receive funding. Ongoing efforts are not eligible. Project leaders are required to file short quarterly progress reports.

What: Projects can produce news and information for a geographic area, such as a small town, city, county, state or region. Or they can serve a topic or community of interest, such as the environment or public health.

Where: Projects and project leaders must be based in the United States.
How much: Projects can receive $12,000, paid in two installments. The second installment will be paid after the first progress report is filed.

Timeline: Awardees will be announced in January 2015 and will receive the first $6,000 shortly after selection. Projects are required to launch at least a beta within 10 months of receiving funding.

Encore media entrepreneur projects must serve a defined community or topic area with regularly updated content and develop plans to continue after J-Lab funding ends.

Awardees must adhere to journalistic principles of accuracy, truth and fairness and foster an open exchange of journalistically sound news and information. Collaborative reporting ideas are welcome.

Type of Project
Funding is available for publically accessible electronic or mobile news initiatives. Content must be updated frequently. The money can be used to a create web site or mobile app, produce content and build a sustainability plan.

Encore Media Entrepreneur funding is not available for youth media training or news literacy projects, personal blogs or for the production of a documentary.

Strong contenders will offer users a way to share or contribute news, opinion, and other content and provide information to help people make informed civic choices or participate in community problem-solving.

Projects must have a plan for continuing after initial funding has ended. Awardees must have an achievable plan to deliver a steady flow of fresh, original content year-round. They must submit a reasonable budget and propose a strategy for continuing their efforts through donors, subscribers, foundations, events, advertising, or e-commerce or other streams of support. They must describe how they will keep their project alive after J-Lab funding has ended.

J-Lab will pay for awardees to receive training in community publishing tools and strategies.

Project leaders must provide four quarterly progress reports during the year that will be used for blogs on the J-Lab website. They also must be willing to share their startup experiences as part of J-Lab research into these startups. The goal is to provide a knowledge network to help others learn from the awardees’ experiences.

  • Startup awards may be used for equipment, software, rent, phones, training, marketing, production, stipends, freelance payments and contracted services.
  • Award funds may be channeled through fiscal agents, but the funds may not be used to cover indirect or overhead costs. Fiscal sponsors may not take a percentage of the project funding.
  • Encore media entrepreneur awards are intended as one-time only, start-up grants. Applicants are not eligible for future J-Lab funding.
  • Funding may be used only for news and information projects. Advocacy, government and religious projects are not eligible.
  • All school and university-based projects must demonstrate an ability to produce content year-round.
  • Only projects based in the United States may apply. Project leaders must live in or near any community they propose to cover.
  • Bilingual or multilingual projects to deliver news and information in the languages of targeted ethnic communities will be considered. However, for education purposes, projects must also make all news and information available in English. All progress reports must be in English.
  • Awardees may be invited to participate in J-Lab meetings and symposia.

Funded projects will be selected by an advisory board. The judges reserve the right to select projects that represent a diversity of topics, areas and participants. The judges will decline to consider any applicant that does not meet all the guidelines.

Participating in the judging were Ju-Don Roberts, Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University; Tiffany Shackelford, Executive Director, Association for Alternative News Weeklies; Jody Brannon, Digital Media Strategist and former National Director News 21, and Jan Schaffer, Executive Director, J-Lab.

This preview lets you see all the questions to be answered in the Encore Media Entrepreneurs application.

It is recommended that you write your answers in a Word document then paste them into the Survey Monkey application. You must abide by the character limits in the application.

Encore Media Entrepreneurs Grant Application

Contact information – All required:

1) Applicant’s Name
2) Age
3) Organization/Title (if applicable)
4) Address:
5) Email
6) Phone

7) Optional: Existing website, Twitter/Linked In/ Facebook pages:

Project Information:

8) Name of Project:

9) This is my 30-second elevator pitch for my idea. (50 words about 300 characters, no space)

10) Here’s why I think my media project is needed. (150 words, about 1,000 characters, no spaces.)

11) This is what I’ve been doing with my life and my proudest accomplishment to date. (300 words, about 2,000 characters, no spaces.)

12) This is how I will generate and distribute content. Include any funding or content partners. This is how frequently I will update content. (300 words, about 2,000 characters, no spaces.)

13) This is my plan and budget for the $12,000 in funding. (300 words, about 2,000 characters, no spaces.)

14) This is my plain to continue the project after the Encore Media Entrepreneur funding runs out. (300 words, about 2,000 characters, no spaces.)

15) This is my timeline over the next year. (250 words, about 1,650 characters, no spaces.)

16) This is my strategy for getting the word out about my project. . (250 words, about 1,650 characters, no spaces.)

17) This is why I know I can make this happen. (300 words, about 2,000 characters, no spaces.)

18) Additional thoughts. (150 words, about 1,000 characters, no spaces.)



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