The consortium provides grants for projects that achieve the following goals:
- Improve the quantity and quality of civic information in New Jersey communities.
- Give residents enhanced access to useful government data and public information through innovative applications, platforms, and technologies.
- Train students, professionals, and community members in the practice of community storytelling, journalism, and media production.
- Nurture better civic engagement and dialogue inside and between New Jersey communities.
- Better meet the information needs of low-income communities and racial and ethnic communities that have been underserved by the media.
- Invest in research and practices that can help media outlets become more closely connected to their audiences and more sustainable without government support.
Under state law, the Consortium and the State of New Jersey do not have any ownership in any project funded by a Consortium grant. In addition, under state law the State of New Jersey and the Consortium cannot exercise editorial control over any project funded by the Consortium.
The state of New Jersey created the Consortium in 2018 in response to the growing local news crisis impacting communities across the state’s 21 counties. Led by the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization Free Press, a broad stakeholder coalition of thousands of residents, universities, journalists, lawmakers and more crafted the Civic Info Bill as a way to fund innovative media and civic-technology projects in New Jersey for decades to come.
The Consortium has its roots in a history of projects and advocacy to grow access to local news and information across New Jersey, including work by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.
The Consortium brings together six of New Jersey’s leading institutions of higher education – The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Kean University, and Rutgers University – in partnership to address the lack of access to local news and information. The Consortium is eligible for funding from the State of New Jersey and can obtain funds from private foundations, individuals, and other charitable organizations. Montclair State University serves as the host university for the Consortium.
The Consortium, housed within Montclair State University, is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, which includes representatives of the five member universities.
By bringing together these five comprehensive public universities the Consortium can leverage the individual strengths of each university and utilize them in a unique synergy to benefit New Jersey residents. Each member university has identified its individual focus areas for the Consortium’s work and these will be used as part of the Consortium’s strategy to address news deserts statewide.