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Specialized Reporting Institutes


The McCormick Foundation is offering grants to fund up to eight Specialized Reporting Institutes (SRI) in 2011. Each SRI should focus on a timely, important topic for working journalists and provide intensive training for journalists and others who are reporting, writing or teaching on that topic.

SRIs are designed to meet the growing need to provide journalists and others with subject-specific expertise and practical reporting training in key issues. (Here are previous SRI topics, hosts and locations.) An SRI is organized and administered by a non-profit host, which plans and carries out the program. The training event convenes a diverse group of journalists, often from small to mid-sized news organizations, plus educators, for a program lasting two to three days. Participants represent all media platforms, and grant funds cover all or most of participants’ travel, lodging and tuition. SRI hosts typically receive grants of $35,000-$50,000 to cover the costs of the institute.

The McCormick Foundation, working with The Poynter Institute, invites all non-profit 501(c)3 organizations to apply to host an SRI in 2011. If you would like to host a Specialized Reporting Institute in 2011, please review the guidelines for submitting an application and developing an SRI program, the goals of the SRI program, and then complete the online application. The application deadline is 5 p.m. E.T. on Dec. 1, 2010.

McCormick also will award up to two SRIs outside the annual application process. This will allow SRI hosts to conduct news-responsive training. (For example, The Poynter Institute conducted an SRI in New Orleans to train journalists covering the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in August 2010.) Organizations interested in proposing a news-responsive SRI should complete the online application after the SRI grants are awarded in January.

How to Apply

1. Be familiar with the goals of a Specialized Reporting Institute to ensure that your proposal will seek to achieve those goals.

2. Know these requirements for an SRI and be prepared to address them in your application.

3. Select your topic and plan the key components of your event: location, faculty or other presenters, participant recruitment plan, any other elements that will enhance the effectiveness and impact of your SRI. (Here are previous SRI topics, hosts and locations.)

4. Prepare a budget for your SRI. Typically, Specialized Reporting Institutes receive grants of $35,000-$50,000.

5. Fill out the online application by 5 p.m. E.T. on Dec. 1, 2010. You will receive an e-mail confirmation when your application is submitted.

SRI Application Timeline

Dec. 1, 2010 (note: deadline has been extended from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1):  Deadline to apply. You will receive an email confirming that your application has been received., 

Dec. 15, 2010: All applicants will learn if they are finalists for funding. Finalists may be asked for additional information.

Jan. 10, 2011: Deadline for finalists to submit supplemental information.

Jan. 30, 2011: Grants will be awarded. These will be staggered throughout the calendar year.

Poynter's Role in the 2011 SRI Process

McCormick Foundation has asked The Poynter Institute to administer the Specialized Reporting Institutes Program. Poynter will oversee the application process, answer applicants’ questions, work with McCormick to select SRI hosts and then be a resource for hosts as they carry out and evaluate their events. Poynter will also offer training resources (such as Webinars conducted either at Poynter or at the SRI site) and other support services. Through this partnership, McCormick and Poynter hope to ensure a diversity of participants and speakers at each SRI, increase the online reach of the training, build community around the training events, create consistency within the SRI program and enhance the evaluation of the work.

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still need assistance, send e-mail to McCormickSRI@poynter.org.