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ProPublica Returns Grant Funded by Bankman-Fried Family

Grant was intended to support reporting on biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.

Update, Nov. 22, 2023: ProPublica has reached an agreement to voluntarily return funds originally donated by the Bankman-Fried family foundation, fulfilling the promise it made last year to help ensure that the victims of Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal activities were made whole as soon as it became clear which entities were the proper recipients of the money. The agreement is with the debtor group led by FTX and Alameda Research that will return customer funds, in line with procedures outlined in the ongoing bankruptcy case in federal court. The donation, made in 2022, was intended to support ProPublica’s investigative work.

Update, Dec. 20, 2022: ProPublica announced that it will return the initial $1.6 million it received in what was supposed to be a three-year, $5 million grant, and that it has terminated its relationship with the Building a Stronger Future foundation following allegations of fraudulent activities against Sam Bankman-Fried. ProPublica remains deeply committed to ongoing investigative work on pandemic preparedness and biothreats and plans to use other resources to make sure the work continues.

The original version of this press release, published Feb. 28, 2022, is included below:

Bankman-Fried Family Donates $5 Million to ProPublica

Building a Stronger Future — a family foundation run by Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, and his brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried — announced a $5 million grant to ProPublica on Feb. 28, 2022. Over three years, the donation will support investigations into ongoing questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, biosecurity and public health preparedness.

The grant will allow ProPublica to establish a world-class reporting team for wide-ranging, international coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and any future outbreaks. This reporting will center on a larger accountability question: Is the world taking the steps needed to contain this pandemic and prepare for the next global health threat? The investigative newsroom will look holistically at biothreats, including the security of labs around the world doing cutting-edge research, the factors that may lead to the next pandemic, and the state of monitoring systems meant to catch new infectious diseases as they emerge.

To produce the greatest impact over the next three years, ProPublica will hire a team of experienced investigative journalists, including a gifted leader who will help their colleagues focus on key areas, an editor who will shape the work, three reporters, a data reporter and a news app developer. Job postings will go up in the coming weeks.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to extend our investigative journalism on one of the most critical issues in world history,” said ProPublica President Robin Sparkman. “With this ambitious effort, our goal is to do what we’ve always done at ProPublica: offer readers reporting that spurs change, is not being done elsewhere and holds power accountable.”

“Sam and I are thrilled to support ProPublica’s vital work,” said Gabe Bankman-Fried. “Ambitious, high-quality reporting is necessary to inform the public, hold institutions accountable, protect lives, and reduce the risk of future catastrophes. ProPublica has provided essential reporting throughout the pandemic on government decision-making, testing failures, laboratory safety, and many other related subjects. We’re so excited that they will be expanding their coverage of one of the most important issues facing humanity.”

About Building a Stronger Future

Building a Stronger Future is a family foundation run by Sam and Gabe Bankman-Fried.

About ProPublica

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 130 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Its reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received six Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, four Emmy Awards and ten George Polk Awards, among other accolades.

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