At ProPublica Illinois, we want to expand our investigative reporting throughout the state and we’re looking for some excellent journalists with great story ideas to help us do that.

We have $40,000 to fund reporting projects focused on issues critical to rural, small and mid-sized communities in Illinois.

What are those issues? Well, we have a particular interest in examining the environment, energy, politics and agriculture, but if you know of other stories that should be told or additional areas that should be investigated, please pitch them. We welcome all ideas.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Proposals can take any number of forms: a reporting project focused on a specific topic, investigative beat coverage on a broader subject area, a few long stories, an ongoing series of shorter stories, text, radio, video or more. Be ambitious and creative.
  • Both freelance journalists and employees of news organizations are eligible to apply.
  • For journalists attached to newsrooms, the funding is expected to cover all reporting-related expenses, including any travel, database and public document acquisition and analysis, any environmental or health testing and translation services. We would publish your work in partnership with your media organization.
  • For freelancers, funding is expected to cover all reporting-related expenses, as well as compensation for your time. We would publish the work and, if appropriate, seek publishing partners.
  • You should ask for an amount in keeping with the scope of your proposed project.
  • Funding will extend through the end of 2018.

To propose a reporting project or area of coverage, please fill out this application.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Be as specific as you can in outlining your ideas; your proposal should be well-researched. If there’s been previous reporting on an issue — yours or anyone else’s — please summarize it and, if possible, include links.

Tell us why you think these stories are crucial. We value impact, so let us know what change your work could help bring about. And describe how you would involve the public both in shaping this work and responding to it. If you have ideas for multimedia elements, social media and engagement strategies and partnerships with other media outlets or organizations, include those too. But don’t worry if you don’t. We can talk that through.

Include a resume and three of your best clips. If you work for a news organization, your editor should write a short letter of support for this project and intention to publish it. Please specify the amount you are requesting, with a draft budget and a timeline for completion.

And if you have questions or want to chat about ideas, just shoot us an email at [email protected] and we’ll follow up ASAP.

Deadline for proposals is May 1 and we hope to get underway by mid-June.