19 newsrooms selected for RFA/LMA Sustainability Lab

Nineteen newsrooms have been selected to be part of the RFA/LMA Sustainability Lab, a new partnership between Report for America, Local Media Association and Meta Journalism Project to catalyze philanthropic and business model innovation for local newsrooms.

Support from Meta Journalism Project will enable newsrooms in the lab, run by LMA for RFA partner media organizations, to complete a six-month best practices course on philanthropy and other revenue strategies. The curriculum is based on lessons from LMA’s Pathways to Philanthropy Playbook, as well as the Meta Branded Content Project and Reader Revenue programs. The lab will also leverage Report for America’s track record of supporting and training local newsroom leaders to venture into local fundraising, often for the first time.

“This is a crucial moment for local journalism,” said Frank Mungeam, LMA chief innovation officer. “We look forward to sharing with these 19 newsrooms the emerging best practices and strategies for sustaining essential reporting through philanthropy and other revenue streams.”

“We’re excited for this important collaboration with a great peer in the battle to fix the local news crisis,” said Todd Franko, RFA director of local sustainability and development. “Report for America has been a fundraising tool for more than 200 U.S. newsrooms in the last five years. This opportunity with LMA and Meta allows us to engage in a new, vital way. We’re grateful for this opportunity.”

Meet the class:

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting


“As the state’s only nonprofit newsroom dedicated to statewide, data-driven accountability journalism, the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has for years worked to fill critical gaps in local reporting. But to sustain that work, our newsroom must further refine how it funds our journalism in the long term. We’re beyond excited to join a cohort of newsrooms facing similar challenges, and to learn from this program and one another so we can ensure our journalism continues well into the future.”

—Brandon Quester, executive director and editor, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Bay City News


“Bay City News is thrilled to participate in the RFA/LMA Sustainability Lab cohort. Our goal for this program is to raise at least $60,000 to support our two RFA corps members, and to build capacity for our internship program, data work, regional civic coverage, and information hubs. Two areas which the lab could help us with are a membership program and corporate sponsorships/branded content.” 

—Aurora Kasten, development Manager, Bay City News

Black Voice News


“We are grateful to be selected to participate in this phenomenal cohort and look forward to learning how to attract more opportunities for philanthropic support. We know this will help catapult us to even greater success as we work to enhance the scope of our philanthropic outreach, and in the process, learn to leverage these opportunities as a more sustainable stream of business revenue.”

—Christen Irving, director of revenue and audience engagement, Black Voice News

The Colorado Sun


“The Colorado Sun is honored to participate in this Report for America/Local Media Association cohort. We look forward to sharing with and learning from other news organizations, while exploring journalism philanthropy, sustainability, and alternate revenue sources.”

—Carol Wood, chief operating officer, The Colorado Sun

Dallas Free Press


“As a nonprofit newsroom, sustainability is crucial to our ability to amplify the voices of our communities and provide them with a reliable source of local, independent news. I look forward to learning from those with experience and expertise in fundraising, as well as the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow with other newsrooms. Through the help of this cohort, I am excited to be able to utilize my learnings to support Dallas Free Press and ensure that we are able to continue our mission.” 

—Haley Chavez, development manager, Dallas Free Press

The Daily Herald (Washington)


“Local journalism is a valuable part of Snohomish County, and I believe you need to take care of what you value. That’s why I look forward to discovering new ways, connections, and partnerships that will sustain local news for the benefit of our community.”

—Brenda Mann Harrison, journalism development director, The Daily Herald

El Paso Matters


“Journalism is vital to our democracy, particularly at the community level. This can’t happen without a sustainable business model. We are honored to be part of this program so we can continue to provide the most important stories to our community.”

—Robert Moore, president and chief executive officer, El Paso Matters

Enlace Latino NC


“I’m excited to work directly with a coach on our revenue strategy, particularly in an area that has been especially challenging for us: individual donations. I’m also looking forward to sharing our experience in areas we have had success with — grants and sponsorships — with the cohort.” 

—Lupita Ruiz-Tolento, development director, Enlace Latino NC

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)


“We have watched with great interest as media organizations have developed new funding streams through foundations and other organizations. These streams are important as the business models of media organizations shift. We are in the early stages of developing the skill sets and team needed to do that within our organization, and are excited to have support from coaches and work alongside other teams working toward similar goals.”

—Zack Kucharski, executive editor, The Gazette 

Henrico Citizen


“We’re proud and thrilled to have been selected to be part of this lab and excited for the opportunity to learn how to build upon the sustainability efforts we’ve implemented during the past two years. As a 20-year-old independent news organization that made the transition from a print-plus-digital format to a fully digital set of platforms at the outset of COVID and has seen our average monthly readership more than triple during that time, we’re particularly interested in finding new ways to foster reader revenue streams. We’re looking forward to implementing the lessons we learn as part of our enhanced community engagement process so that the Henrico Citizen can serve this community for years to come.”

—Tom Lappas, owner/publisher, Henrico Citizen



“The news industry is evolving, and we want to evolve with it. This program will equip us with the tools to be able to grow and sustain ourselves as a modern newsroom. We’re grateful for this opportunity to learn new ways of better serving our community so we can continue changing lives.”

—Bro Krift, executive editor,  IndyStar



“I am privileged and grateful to be a part of this cohort, especially at this key time for inewsource, an investigative reporting nonprofit newsroom. We have grown significantly in the past couple of years and now is the time to diversify our revenue streams and build stronger audiences. I look forward to identifying and carrying out a fundraising project that will help achieve these goals, share knowledge and learn from everyone during this exciting initiative.”

—Veronica Flores, Philanthropy Officer, inewsource

The Land


“The key to growing a nonprofit newsroom is sustainability. We’re looking forward to participating in the LMA/RFA Sustainability Lab because we think it will help us develop a roadmap for increasing our support through philanthropy, major donors, and membership. That support will allow us to keep creating journalism that empowers people in our community.”

—Lee Chilcote, founder and editor, The Land

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


“I’m honored and humbled to be part of this effort to find long-term support for funding local journalism. This is a great opportunity to learn from other leaders and create a roadmap for strengthening coverage of our Wisconsin communities.”

—Jim Fitzhenry, executive editor, USA TODAY NETWORK-Central Wisconsin

North Country Public Radio


“This opportunity comes along at an ideal time for us. We’ve just gone through a generational change in leadership, and it’s critically important for us to learn new ways to connect with our loyal supporters – and attract others who believe in our mission of covering and serving the North Country community in a way few others can.”

—Mitch Teich, station manager, North Country Public Radio



“PublicSource looks forward to taking part in the sustainable journalism cohort. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to learn from coaches and other organizations doing this work, connect with potential new funding avenues and practices, and share what we’ve learned over the last 10 years.” 

—Jennie Ewing Liska, director of revenue and operations, PublicSource

Richland Source


“Though I have worked with President and Publisher Jay Allred on fundraising initiatives since 2018, my position was created in August 2021. Being part of this cohort will allow me to develop and optimize fundraising and revenue strategies in real-time by learning from industry experts and funders. I look forward to hearing from other organizations in the cohort and collectively elevating each other’s work.”

—Angie Cirone, director of journalism sustainability, Richland Source

Voice of OC


“We are incredibly grateful to Report for America and its donors for the support we have received as partners in the program for more than three years. The results for our newsroom have been transformational. In addition, we have benefited from RFA’s exceptional efforts to educate the public on what real journalism entails and how to refocus the profession to better support democracy.”

—Meg Waters, development director, Voice of OC

The Washington Informer


“I am excited to learn about creative journalism revenue models which will impact sustainability so many more communities will have access to journalism that tells them who, what, when, where, why and how.” 

—Joan Woods, development consultant, The Washington Informer 


The RFA/LMA Sustainability Lab will run from April through September, with fundraising completed by the end of 2022. LMA and RFA will partner to share case studies on news organization lessons and successes that can be applied across the news industry.

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

About Local Media Association

Local Media Association brings all media together to share, network, collaborate and more. More than 3,000 newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, digital-only publications, and research and development partners engage with LMA as members or constituents of our programs. As a 501(c)(6) trade association, LMA is focused on the business side of local media. Its programs and labs focus on revenue growth and new business models. LMA helps local media companies develop their strategies via cutting-edge programs, conferences, webinars, research and training.

About Meta Journalism Project

The Meta Journalism Project works with publishers around the world to strengthen the connection between journalists and the communities they serve. It also helps address the news industry’s core business challenges.