Impact

Journalism in the Public Interest

Impact has been at the core of ProPublica’s mission since we launched in 2008, and it remains the principal yardstick for our success today. Our investigative journalism does more than expose wrongdoing and injustice; we intend for it to spark real-world change.

We’ve written a whole white paper on the topic, and examples of how our stories have produced such change — from the resignation of corrupt officials to the passage of new laws — are compiled in our annual reports. On this page, you’ll find our reporting on the impact of our work.

Featured Impact

Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Her Online Coursework, Is Released

Grace’s story, first published by ProPublica Illinois, prompted outrage and debate across the country. Though a judge refused to set the girl free, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from a juvenile detention facility in Detroit.

Florida Governor Signs Law Reforming Program for Brain-Damaged Infants

Parents who participate in the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA, receive a pledge from lawmakers that they will no longer have to fight for “medically necessary” expenses the program has claimed to cover all along.

New York City Council Proposes Sweeping NYPD Reforms

The council has announced a package of bills to reshape the NYPD and improve officer accountability. A City Council member cited a “direct line” from ProPublica’s coverage to the proposals.

Illinois Dramatically Limits Use of Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Schools

A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois.

More Impact

Head of New Mexico Child Support Agency Asks State to Stop Intercepting Payments to Poor Families

Following a ProPublica investigation, the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division is calling on the state Legislature to stop funding the agency with millions in child support confiscated from single mothers who previously received welfare.

The EPA Administrator Visited Cancer-Causing Air Pollution Hot Spots Highlighted by ProPublica and Promised Reforms

ProPublica found more than 1,000 toxic air hot spots across the country, and determined Black residents were disproportionately at risk. Environmental experts called the EPA’s response to our investigation historic and a “radical change in tone.”

Judge Says NYPD Illegally Withheld Footage in Police Shootings

A New York state judge said the NYPD was operating in “bad faith” when it denied requests to release body-worn camera footage from the killing of Kawaski Trawick.

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Faces Ethics Charges

Alison Lundergan Grimes, a onetime Democratic rising star and subject of a ProPublica series, is accused of using state resources for her political advantage.

St. Jude Hoards Billions While Many of Its Families Drain Their Savings

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital promises not to bill families. But the cost of having a child at the hospital for cancer care leaves some families so strapped for money that parents share tips on spending nights in the parking lot.

Senators Call for Federal Investigation Into Liberty University’s Handling of Sexual Assaults. School Promises Independent Probe.

Following a ProPublica report that detailed how the evangelical college discouraged and threatened to punish students who report being raped, Sen. Tim Kaine says his office is “urging the Department of Education to investigate.”

Lawmakers Call for Immediate Action at Chicago Shelter Housing Afghan Children

After ProPublica’s report that Afghan children at a Chicago shelter were hurting themselves, Sen. Dick Durbin asked federal officials to investigate. In the meantime, Heartland Alliance, the facility’s operator, now has interpreters in its shelters.

LA Inspector General Looks Into Allegations of Racist Policing by Sheriff’s Deputies on School Grounds

Citing a LAist/ProPublica report that sheriff’s deputies disproportionately stopped and cited Black students, LA County’s Inspector General said he will look into allegations of racial discrimination in California’s Antelope Valley high schools.

Florida Program to Aid Brain-Damaged Kids Often Told Families No. It’s Promising to Change.

The program promised support while taking away parents’ right to seek justice. Instead, NICA often forced parents to go through the state’s Medicaid safety net first — including appeals. Now, a proposed set of rules could change the approach.

House Introduces a Sweeping Booster Seat Safety Law to Protect Children in Car Crashes

The Booster Seat Safety Act was prompted by a ProPublica investigation and a subsequent congressional probe that found manufacturers had misled parents about the safety of booster seats and endangered children’s lives.

Louisiana Deputy Who Slammed a Black Woman on the Pavement Was Named in Multiple Suits, Records Show

Julio Alvarado, a Jefferson Parish deputy who was seen on video violently dragging a woman by the hair, has been named in nine federal civil rights lawsuits, all involving the use of excessive force. This is the most of any deputy currently employed.

Tennessee Children Were Illegally Jailed. Now Members of Congress Are Asking For an Investigation.

Government officials called Rutherford County’s juvenile justice system a “nightmare” that “boggles the mind.” They are demanding answers about why children were “unjustly searched, detained, charged, and imprisoned.”

Rich Homeowners Have Endangered Hawaii’s Beaches With Sand Burritos. The State Is Cracking Down.

Coastal officials in Hawaii are taking action against residents who lined their oceanfront properties with sandbags. A Star-Advertiser/ProPublica investigation last year found that lax enforcement of these protections was threatening beaches.

The Trump Administration Used Its Food Aid Program for Political Gain, Congressional Investigators Find

The Food to Families program, touted by Ivanka Trump, gave tens of millions of dollars to unqualified firms and was also used to promote then-President Trump.

Outrage Grows Over Jailing of Children as Tennessee University Cuts Ties With Judge Involved

In the days following a ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio report on juvenile justice in Rutherford County, the president of Middle Tennessee State University told staff Judge Donna Scott Davenport “is no longer affiliated with the University.”

A Secretive Counterterrorism Team Interrogated Dozens of Citizens at the Border, Government Report Finds

A report by a federal watchdog shows how the Trump administration flagged at least 51 citizens for interrogation at the border based on evidence as flimsy as once having ridden in a car with someone suspected of aiding the migrant “caravan.”

Head of California Utility Regulator Resigns Less Than One Year Into Six-Year Term

President Marybel Batjer’s resignation comes after numerous controversies and a ProPublica and Bay City News Foundation report on $200 million in missing funds.

ACLU Calls On Federal Prosecutors to Investigate the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office

Despite years of complaints against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the DOJ has not stepped in to help. Following our investigation, the ACLU renews the call to action and has asked the DOJ to launch an investigation.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Buddies Tried to Get the VA to Sell Access to Veterans’ Medical Records

A congressional investigation prompted by ProPublica’s reporting found Trump’s “Mar-a-Lago crowd,” wealthy civilians with no U.S. government or military experience, pursued a plan to monetize veterans’ medical data.

January 6 Select Committee Subpoenas Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Other Top Aides

Citing a June ProPublica report, the committee says there is “credible evidence” of Meadows’ involvement in events leading up to the attack on the Capitol.

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