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

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.

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.

Facebook Grew Marketplace to 1 Billion Users. Now Scammers Are Using It to Target People Around the World.

ProPublica identified thousands of Marketplace listings and profiles that broke the company’s rules, revealing how Facebook failed to safeguard users.

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.

Latest Stories from ProPublica