Grow + Strengthen: Revenue

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why did we launch this latest round of Grow + Strengthen grants?

Many of the small, independent local news organizations that the Center works are so busy working to keep their business afloat that they don’t have time to conceive and implement new money-making experiments and additional revenue streams. We hope these small grants provide some of that space.

But the grant money isn’t the only thing of value when it comes to something like this. It’s also the coaching and support, and the sense of community belonging that comes with programs that encourage peer learning and knowledge-sharing.

As such, we’re launching this latest round of Grow + Strengthen to help us accomplish the following three primary goals:

1. Seed and support business and sustainability initiatives for hyperlocal news outlets in New Jersey.

2. Provide NJ News Commons members with access to organizational support from LION Publishers.

3. Encourage more local NJ publishers and journalists to think creatively about revenue and sustainability issues as they relate to journalism.

We hope this program will help fortify and expand the local news ecosystem in New Jersey by supporting projects that attempt to tackle one of the most pressing issues facing local news organizations not just in our state, but across the country and around the world: money.

Who is eligible for these grants?

– Applicants must be a current or prospective member of the NJ News Commons (click here to learn more about how to become a member)

– Proposals must be explicitly tied to generating revenue or improving the sustainability of an existing NJ news and information business.

– Applicants must be based in or primarily covering New Jersey communities.

What is the deadline for submissions?

The deadline for applications is Jan. 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The applications will be given to our judges for an evaluation period from Feb. 3 until Feb. 7, 2020. We plan to announce the names of the judges after the new year. Winners will be notified the week of Feb. 10. The revenue experiments and sustainability efforts outlined in the grant proposals should be conducted over a period of six months, during which time grantees will be expected to document their efforts and provide a midterm report in May and final report in early Sept. 2020. Grantee feedback surveys will be distributed and collected in Sept. 2020.

What can I spend the grant money on?

The money must be spent on executing your revenue project. That could include costs related to staffing, software, equipment, marketing, etc. If you have any specific questions about this, please contact the Center at

What can I NOT spend the grant money on?

The money cannot be spent on any political-related activity, such as lobbying, and cannot be spent on anything that is not directly related to the execution of the revenue project.

What will be expected of me if I receive a grant?

All grantees will be required to submit the necessary university paperwork so your award can be processed in a timely manner. Grantees will be asked to submit a mid-year and year-end report. You’ll also be asked to participate in a grantee survey to help us improve the program in future iterations. Finally, you’ll be expected to share your progress and learnings publicly (within reason) at some point along the way.

What if I don’t spend all of the money?

If you don’t spent the entire grant, you will be required to send any unused portions back to the Center.

What if I spend too much of the money?

It’s very likely that many projects will cost more than this grant can pay for. You’ll want to think through how you will cover those costs if you apply for a grant.

If I wanted to do two experiments, can I apply for two grants?

Applicants can submit multiple individual proposals for consideration, but the Center plans to give only one grant per applicant.

When will I be notified of my application status?

As soon as you apply, you’ll get a confirmation email that includes a copy of your application. After that, the Center plans to notify grant winners and those that did not receive a grant during the week of Feb. 10. If you’re selected, you’ll get a grant letter with more details and additional information about what is needed to process your award.

Will you pay the grant to me or to my business?

The Center prefers to pay the grant to the business entity. If you need your grant paid directly to a vendor, the Center can work with you on that.

How will I receive the funds and how long will it take?

It will be your choice of receiving a mailed check or a direct deposit. The money should arrive within about 30 days following successful completion of the required paperwork. Note that university systems move more slowly than you may think! It can take the full 30 days from the day we confirm receipt of your required documents for a check to arrive.

If I am denied funding, will you tell me why?

The Center will try to be as transparent as possible if your application is denied about why it wasn’t accepted. The scoring rubric is a weighted system that gives preference to applicants who are low-income or identify as part of an underrepresented or marginalized group, as well as those who clearly layout the details of their proposal. Due to the volume of applications expected, the Center likely won’t be able to proactively reach out and ask you to amend your application.

What if you haven’t answered my question in these FAQs?

Email with your question.