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Kalle Benallie
ICT

ICT is set to expand by developing reporting partnerships in seven U.S. regions, using grant money from the American Journalism Project, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The American Journalism Project, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropic organization dedicated to local news, announced a total investment of $3.15 million to three nonprofit news organizations, including ICT.

ICT will receive $1.3 million to fund a three-year project to establish reporting partnerships throughout the country.

Other recipients are Verite, a sister newsroom of Mississippi Today ​​launching this fall in New Orleans, and New York City-based THE CITY.

As part of the grant, ICT will receive venture support in addition to the funding, including one-on-one guidance, capacity building resources, peer learning opportunities and other tools to strengthen their business and revenue operations, according to the American Journalism Project.

“This American Journalism Project investment in ICT shows that Indigenous journalists, Indigenous stories and Indigenous journalism matter,” said ICT editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Dine. “AJP's gift will allow ICT to transform the Indigenous journalism ecosystem.”

Bennett-Begaye said this opportunity is “a hope we could only dream four years ago.”

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The grant will fund salaries for four new hires: a development director, finance director, audience/membership director, and a regional director of revenue. They will help enable the business team to pursue local and national philanthropic revenue opportunities, strengthen membership revenue and increase earned revenue opportunities.

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The grant will also significantly expand ICT’s journalism.

“This generous grant from AJP will allow us to not only broaden our reporting range and add seven regional bureaus, but also will enable us to hire business positions to help ensure our financial sustainability,” said Karen Michel, president and CEO of IndiJ Public Media, which owns ICT.

ICT currently has bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, Alaska. It also has journalists based at its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Ohio, New Mexico, Montana, and Oregon. The new bureaus will be established in regions across the country where there are greater populations of Indigenous people. Not only will the bureaus cover their own regions, but will also collaborate with other ICT bureaus on projects and in-depth stories.

Bureau expansion is expected to target Oklahoma, the Midwest and the mountain states.

“There has never been a national news organization with bureaus across North America focused on Indigenous news. We are inventing this as we go,” said Mark Trahant, ICT’s editor-at-large. “This grant helps us define what that will look like -- how we will staff bureaus and how we will make them sustainable.”

He added the diversity in news media has been lacking, but ICT is changing the landscape by providing a platform for younger journalists.

“Over time I expect that mainstream media will benefit from the talent that we know is already out there,” he said.

According to the project’s 2022 Impact Report, previous grantees grew by an average of 67 percent in the first year of their grant.

“The market failure in local news has left Americans in crisis — people across our country are strapped for the information they need to participate in our democracy and live healthy, thriving lives,” Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project, said. “Anyone searching for solutions to the crisis in local news should take a close look at what these organizations are doing to build trusted and sustainable news for communities.”

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