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

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.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Proposes Further Traffic Ticket Reforms to Help Low-Income Motorists

In 2018, ProPublica reported on how vehicle tickets in Chicago disproportionately harm low-income, Black residents. This latest set of reforms proposes lowering ticket costs and providing debt relief for low-income residents.

House Bill Would Blow Up the Massive IRAs of the Superwealthy

The proposed reform stems from a ProPublica story that detailed how PayPal founder Peter Thiel had amassed $5 billion, tax-free, in a Roth IRA. If the bill passes, Roth accounts would be capped at $20 million for high-income individuals.

New Report Shows “Deeply Troubling Failures” by Border Patrol in Boy’s Death, Key Congressional Leader Says

The DHS inspector general has confirmed the findings of a ProPublica investigation into the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan who died in a Border Patrol cell in Texas.

After 33 Years, Parents of Brain-Damaged Kids Get to Express Disgust With Florida Program

Our reporting prompted changes in state law, and on Wednesday, the program’s executive director resigned. Parents had harsh words about the way they and their children have been treated.

The Director of Florida’s Program for Brain Damaged Infants Has Resigned

The head of NICA, or the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, resigned following a report from ProPublica and the Miami Herald detailing families’ struggles as they sought — and were often denied — support they’d been promised.

Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Borrowers Was 10 Years in the Making

At ProPublica, we measure our success by the tangible impact our stories have. Sometimes it takes more than a decade to see a flawed policy change.

The Education Department Will Forgive $5.8 Billion in Student Loans for Disabled Borrowers

A troubled Education Department program left many disabled borrowers unable to escape crushing debt. A decade after ProPublica exposed the issue, the US has taken a major step to address the program’s defects.

Lawmakers Question California Cap and Trade Policies, Citing ProPublica Report

California legislators asked the state Air Resources Board to review its forest offsets program after an investigation by ProPublica and MIT Technology Review found that up to 39 million carbon credits aren’t achieving real climate benefits.

Audit Confirms That a Program for Brain-Damaged Kids Arbitrarily Denied Claims and Overspent on Perks

A new report validates many of the findings of an investigation published by the Miami Herald and ProPublica about Florida’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA.

We Reported on Pollution From Sugar Cane Burning. Now Federal Lawmakers Want the EPA to Take Action.

Citing a Palm Beach Post/ProPublica report on the burning of cane fields, leading members of Congress have called for the EPA to investigate air monitoring in Florida and to change national pollution standards.

Inspector General Urges Ethics Review at Federal Election Commission Following ProPublica Report

The FEC’s inspector general has called for the agency to review its policies and internal controls after ProPublica revealed a key employee’s undisclosed ties to Trump.

Alaskan Law Requires DNA From Accused Criminals, but Officials Failed to Collect Samples From 21,000 People

Alaska authorities neglected to collect DNA swabs from nearly a quarter of qualifying arrestees since 1995, the state said. The requirement was supposed to help solve sexual assault cases and put serial offenders behind bars.

A New Suit Seeks to Turn Arbitrations, a Tool of Big Corporations, Against a Top Customer Service Provider

Arise Virtual Solutions has been accused of cheating its vast network of customer service agents. The suit, which cites ProPublica’s reporting, seeks a decision that could trigger a wave of tiny legal actions against Arise.

Michigan Supreme Court Limits Use of Restraints on Juveniles

A year after Grace’s story drew national attention when she was jailed for not doing her online schoolwork, outcry over the shackling of young people in court has resulted in a ban on the practice unless there’s a risk of physical harm or flight.

The Number of People With IRAs Worth $5 Million or More Has Tripled, Congress Says

After ProPublica revealed that some wealthy Americans hold Roth IRAs worth hundreds of millions — compared to $39,000 for the average account holder — Democrats requested data. It shows more than 28,000 people with IRAs worth $5 million or more.

Senate Banking Chair Asks CFPB How It Plans to Address Risks of Chime and Other Banking Apps

Citing a ProPublica report on the high numbers of complaints about involuntary Chime account closures and other problems, Sherrod Brown asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lay out a plan for overseeing neobanks.

Tax-Funded Forest Institute in Oregon Misled Public, May Have Broken State Law, Audit Finds

State auditors found that an agency intended to educate the public about forestry presented biased information favoring the timber industry and possibly violated state law. The audit was prompted by our investigation last year into the agency.

State Attorneys General Push Federal Government to Follow the Law and Finally Create Side-Impact Tests for Kids’ Car Seats

A co-leader of a group of 18 attorneys general calls ProPublica’s story about the lack of side-impact tests for children’s booster seats “horrifying” and says it’s about time federal regulators stepped in to protect kids.

Democratic Senators Call for Investigation of Tax Avoidance by the Ultrawealthy

Calling ProPublica’s Secret IRS Files series a “bombshell,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse demanded an investigation into how the rich use “legal tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of income taxes.”

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