NASW helps launch Spark Grant Initiative

Science journalism across the globe will get a boost through a grant program launched by the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) with funding from NASW and four other science writing associations.

The Spark Grant Initiative (SGI) aims to encourage and strengthen quality science journalism by supporting projects initiated by the members of a national or regional association, or by setting up collaborations and knowledge-sharing between local associations of science journalists. Members or groups of members from all 67 associations of science journalists that make up the WFSJ are invited to submit proposals.

Milica ​​Momcilovic, WFSJ president, said the scope and framework of the initiative is purposely broad.

“(Projects) could take the form, for example, of a new online portal hosting science journalism courses or activities, an intercontinental collaborative scheme or exchange of best practices, a workshop for specific target groups made available to the whole WFSJ community, and so on,” Momcilovic said. “We are looking for ideas with the ability to surprise us all.”

Administered through the WFSJ, SGI is funded with $100,000 provided by the five associations that organized the last two World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ): NASW and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) in 2017, and the Swiss Association of Science Journalism, Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d’information (France), and Science Writers in Italy in 2019. The WFSJ will showcase the results of the chosen projects as part of next year’s WCSJ in Medellín, Colombia.

Special consideration will be given to projects that support science journalism in under-resourced regions, strengthen the cooperation between science journalists’ communities in different countries, or are designed as demonstration projects that others might emulate. Individual projects are eligible for grants of up to $20,000, with payments made in two stages.

Tinsley Davis, NASW executive director, said the initiative was inspired by NASW’s Peggy Girshman Idea Grant program and supported by the WCSJ International Program Fund, which was launched by NASW and CASW in 2018 using sponsorship funds made available through the judicious management of WCSJ2017 in San Francisco.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Ros Reid at CASW and the hosts of 2019’s World Conference to support this new WFSJ grant program,” Davis said. “I am excited to see the breadths of ideas and needs proposed.”

Eligible applicants fall into one of these three categories: an individual member of one of the WFSJ’s member associations and working with independent media as a staff employee or freelance journalist; a group made up of such members; a member association. More information about eligibility and the application process is outlined on the WFSJ website.

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