For the third year running, the Solutions Journalism Network is seeking proposals from journalists who are leading or want to lead a project that will produce solutions journalism stories — and take others with them to spread the approach. The LEDE Fellowship is a yearlong opportunity for journalists to conceptualize and execute such projects alongside other entrepreneurs committed to extending the reach of solutions journalism and becoming the face of its future.
As the work of the 2020 and 2021 LEDE Fellows demonstrates, these projects can take a variety of forms, but all commit to the four core LEDE principles:
Fellows should (1) LEVERAGE the network: seek out the expertise and resources of journalists, community members and others whose work is relevant to their project, (2) ENGAGE the community: connect with, support and/or celebrate journalists doing solutions journalism as well as engage with the community that the journalism informs, (3) DISSEMINATE the knowledge: directly produce (or catalyze the production of) more solutions journalism and create insight for fellow journalists, newsrooms and other solutions journalism practitioners in the broader SJN network, and (4) ELEVATE what — or who — is missing: help tell the whole story about what’s working, by amplifying marginalized voices and telling stories that problem-focused reporting misses.
What do the LEDE Fellows receive?
- Deep connections with a tight-knit community of solutions journalism entrepreneurs from around the world, who will serve as lasting sources of accountability, problem-solving and encouragement during and beyond the yearlong fellowship;
- Access to exclusive professional development sessions on storytelling, engagement, fundraising, equity and more;
- An honorarium of up to $3,500, proportional to the scope of the fellow’s project;
- Ongoing support and promotion from the staff of SJN and its network of more than 5,000 journalists and newsrooms around the world.
What do the LEDE Fellows commit to do?
- Achieve their project’s specific goals to seed solutions stories, document teachable insights for the greater SJN community, train and engage with fellow solutions-focused journalists, and create community around solutions journalism;
- Contribute insights, share project updates and embrace an “all-teach, all-learn” spirit, seeking out peer expertise — and sharing yours — within the LEDE cohort and with other solutions journalism practitioners in SJN’s network;
- Serve as an ambassador for solutions journalism, locally and globally;
- Abide by SJN’s ethical standards.
What are some examples of projects that have qualified?
The LEDE Fellows of 2020 and 2021 — including independent journalists, editors, college and high school educators, engineers, designers and community organizers — have brought perspectives as diverse and unique as their projects, which include:
- Building a mobile app that curates and disseminates solutions stories;
- Facilitating a mentorship program supporting high school students’ reporting of solutions stories;
- Producing a late-night comedy style solutions journalism channel;
- Connecting and supporting incarcerated journalists publishing solutions stories from the inside;
- Organizing a nationwide hub in Costa Rica to promote and produce in-depth solutions journalism by and for the community.
What criteria is used to select fellows?
- Ability to execute a project that accelerates the spread of solutions journalism in a community;
- Commitment to the spirit of “all-teach, all-learn,” capacity to seek out expertise (and offer your own) among peers and constituents;
- Entrepreneurship, with an inclination to collaborate and “take others with you”;
- Diversity of identity, geography, experience and role;
- Deep understanding of journalism and its current challenges;
- Passion, enthusiasm and curiosity.
What is the structure of the fellowship?
Over the course of the fellowship year, January-December 2022, fellows will engage in:
- Monthly calls with sub-cohorts of four or five other LEDE Fellows with similarly focused or themed projects;
- Bimonthly calls with the entire cohort of 20 to 25 LEDE Fellows, as well as select guest speakers who will support the fellows’ professional development;
- Calls twice a year with SJN’s LEDE Fellowship manager, Julia Hotz, to assess progress on project goals;
- Knowledge-sharing sessions with SJN’s greater network of journalism professionals.
How and when is funding allocated?
All fellows are eligible to receive up to $3,500 in unrestricted funding to support their projects. During the application process, we encourage fellows to demonstrate how that money will be used. The amount awarded will be proportional to the scope of the project.
Each fellow receives half the stipend at the start of the fellowship. At the six-month mark, following an assessment of the project’s progress by the fellow and the project manager, fellows who are on track toward fulfilling their goals will receive the remainder of their stipend.
How can I learn more about the fellowship?
We encourage anyone who is interested in applying to join our informational session on Wednesday, Oct. 6, from noon-1 p.m. EDT (register here).
The session will be hosted by LEDE Fellowship manager Julia Hotz, and will feature 2021 LEDE Fellows Mónica Quesada Cordero, Ambika Samarthya-Howard, Alfredo Casares, Assunta Corbo and Divya Manocha. Though the one-hour call will be recorded, we hope prospective applicants can attend live to ask questions themselves!
How can I apply for the LEDE Fellowship, and what does the timeline look like?
Here is the timeline of the LEDE Fellowship application, selection and on-boarding process:
- APPLICATION ROUND 1 (Sept. 20-Oct. 17): Brief project proposal and “What Is Solutions Journalism?” quiz. (Application should take no longer than two hours to complete.) Apply here by Monday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m. EDT.
- APPLICATION ROUND 2 (Oct. 22–29): In-depth project pitch and 60-second “Why LEDE Fellowship?” video.
- APPLICATION ROUND 3 (Nov. 9–16): Final-round candidates will be invited for a 25-minute interview with LEDE Fellowship manager Julia Hotz and another member of the SJN team.
- SELECTION (Nov. 22): The 2022 LEDE Fellows will be announced.
- No late applications will be accepted.
- All fellows will be notified of their status between each application round. Fellows who successfully make it through round 1 will be sent instructions for round 2.
- While projects may represent the work of teams, only one fellow may represent the project during the application process and fellowship year.
- In the interest of fairness to all applicants, SJN cannot provide preliminary feedback on any prospective fellow’s application ideas. Please review the criteria above, as well as the 2020 and 2021 LEDE Fellows’ projects, to see whether your idea would be a good fit. We invite you to bring your questions to the above information session.
Once you have thoroughly read all the information above, feel free to email [email protected] with any additional questions.
*This opportunity was originally published on the Solutions Journalism Network’s The Whole Story.