Indiegraf announces $3.5M News Startup Fund in partnership with Google News Initiative, Knight Foundation and McConnell Foundation

Indiegraf will provide funding and services to help founders grow their outlets on a rolling basis for the next three years.

Indiegraf is now accepting applications for the News Startup Fund, a new $3.5 million fund to support the launch and growth of startups filling local news gaps in underserved communities.

With financial support from the Google News Initiative, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and McConnell Foundation, the News Startup Fund will provide capital, resources and direct services to news startups across the U.S. and Canada.

The News Startup Fund is an expansion of Indie Capital, an Indiegraf program that has so far provided $1 million in seed funding to small news publishers pioneering new business models. The most recent Indie Capital recipients include The Kansas City Defender, The Objective, Shasta Scout, IndigiNews and The Breach.

“The $3.5M scale-up of Indie Capital is validation that journalist-entrepreneurs are becoming a major solution to the local news crisis,” Indiegraf CEO Erin Millar said. “Indiegraf is on a mission to make local news entrepreneurship not only possible but a great career and life choice for journalists everywhere. The News Startup Fund lowers the barrier to entry and democratizes local media ownership.” 

“Digital startups are a major cause for optimism in today’s evolving news ecosystem. The Google News Initiative is committed to helping local news thrive and we’re very proud to help launch this fund for emerging news publishers, helping them reach new audiences in innovative new ways,” said Conor Crowley, Head of Startups for the Google News Initiative.

The News Startup Fund offers grants to independent publishers at four growth stages, unlocking additional funding as they grow and hit key milestones with Indiegraf’s support. Each News Startup Fund grant provides a combination of direct grant capital, marketing budget and Indiegraf services. Grantees will also benefit from access to the Google News Initiative’s free business training, consulting and implementation support.

“One could simultaneously argue it’s never been easier to become a publisher, and never harder to remain one. Knight Foundation is proud to support Indiegraf because we believe that it is proving out a model for supporting aspiring publishers as they start, sustain, and ultimately grow their organizations and serve their communities,” said Duc Luu, Director of Sustainability Initiatives/Journalism at Knight Foundation. 

Independent news outlets serving communities in the United States and Canada are welcome to apply. Publishers that are not currently part of the Indiegraf network are eligible for early funding stages, with the opportunity to unlock further funding as they grow. Funding stages will be assigned upon review of key metrics such as publishing frequency, quality and impact of coverage, and number of newsletter subscribers and paying supporters. Special consideration will be given to underrepresented founders.

Interested applicants are invited to read more about the News Startup Fund and submit an application here. Applications will be accepted and assessed on an ongoing basis according to funding availability. 

To ensure a continuous flow of investment for the independent news ecosystem, News Startup Fund grants will be disbursed on a first-come-first-served, rolling basis over a three-year period. Interested publishers are invited to subscribe to the Indie Publisher newsletter to stay current on funding availability. 

Indiegraf provides independent publishers with tools, direct support and capital to grow their audience and drive multiple revenue streams – all in one place. We’re on a mission to make news entrepreneurship a great career and life choice for journalists everywhere.

The Google News Initiative is Google’s unified effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. It’s focused on three key objectives: elevating quality information, evolving business models to support quality journalism, and empowering news organizations to use new technology to meet their needs.

As social investors, the Knight Foundation supports democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media.
The McConnell Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that contributes to diverse and innovative approaches to address community resilience, reconciliation and climate change. We do so through funding and investment partnerships, strengthening capabilities, convening, and collaborating with the public, private and non-profit sectors.

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