The Inland Press Foundation is partnering with state press associations to launch a grant program helping newspapers strengthen their local news reporting.

The foundation is launching pilot tests of the grant program in Illinois and Kansas, partnering with the Illinois Press Association and the Kansas Press Association. If successful in those two states, the foundation hopes to expand the grant program to other states.

In January, the foundation will begin accepting applications for the Community News Grant program from daily and weekly newspapers in Kansas and Illinois. The grants will be supported for two years.

The grants will fund newspaper reporting on critical topics such as schools and education, local government, health care, the environment, and infrastructure. The Inland grants will cover half the cost of adding a reporter to a newspaper’s staff, up to a maximum of $25,000. The newspaper will pay the remaining half of that salary.

To be eligible, publications must be bona fide daily or nondaily newspapers who publish a minimum of 48 issues per year. They must have an average of at least 25% news content, with paid subscribers representing more than 50% of total circulation. The program will give special consideration to independent and family-owned newspapers.

“Good journalism is at the heart of an informed public and a healthy democracy,” said Inland Press Foundation President Marc Wilson. “We hope our grant program can help fund newsrooms in a time of great stress for the industry and the country. We hope others will join us in this crucial cause.”

Tom Slaughter, executive director of the Inland foundation, said the foundation was pleased to launch the pilots in the two midwestern states.

“We’re delighted that the Inland foundation can help support vital local journalism in Kansas and Illinois,” Slaughter said. “Both states have proud traditions of strong hometown newspapers, and many of them have long associations with Inland.“We’re glad that connection lives on.”

Emily Bradbury, KPA executive director, said, “We are grateful that Inland Press Foundation picked Kansas as a pilot for this worthwhile project. We are proud of our long relationship with Inland and are excited about the possibilities.”

Slaughter said the foundation was pleased to launch the pilot in Illinois. “The Inland foundation was created in Illinois more than 40 years ago by members of the Inland Press Association,” he said.

Don Craven, president and CEO of the Illinois Press Association, called the grant program a “significant opportunity” for Illinois newspapers. “This is just a start of a program that can help fill reporting positions in Illinois newsrooms that have been lost over the years. We’re excited to be a part of the beginning of this effort, which we hope grows into something much bigger in the coming years.”

Slaughter said donations to the Community News Grant program may be made to the Inland Press Foundation at P.O. Box 3790, Lawrence, KS 66046, or to Donations are tax deductible.

The Inland Press Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit incorporated in Illinois. Over the last 40 years, the foundation has played a prominent and active role in organizing and funding programs to provide research and educational services to the American newspaper industry, with a special focus on independent and family-owned newspapers.

The Illinois Press Association was founded in 1865 as an organization for Illinois publishers. It has evolved into one of the largest state newspaper associations in the country representing more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers.

The Kansas Press Association was organized in 1863 to serve and advance the interests of Kansas news publications. The association provides member services, such as training seminars, publications, marketing, convention, legislative representation, and legal and technology hotlines; as well as client services, including newspaper ad placement services, advertising networks and news release distribution.

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