A robust, resilient and diverse media ecosystem is as essential to a community’s well-being as affordable housing, reliable transportation and accessible capital.

And yet the institutions we often turn to for funding critical community infrastructure — banks, community development finance institutions (CDFIs), socially responsible businesses, and government agencies — largely ignore community media as an essential building block.

Today, I’m excited to tell you about a new partnership aimed at addressing this unmet need.

As part of RJI’s Inclusive Media and Economies Project, RJI, the Multicultural Media and Correspondents Association (MMCA) and Dynasty Consulting are teaming up to help publishers of color tap into community development, revitalization and reinvestment funds, and then use those investments to test new revenue strategies and build more sustainable business models.

RJI will provide seed money and administrative support to the partnership, and MMCA and Dynasty will develop the engagement strategies and facilitate pilot projects with individual publishers. Over the next several months, we will share learnings from the project with the journalism industry, the economic development finance community, policymakers and the public at large.

“Multicultural media have long played a critical role in the civic, social and economic health of communities,” said MMCA co-founder David Morgan. “They are connectors and convenors. They create jobs. They are trusted sources of relevant, actionable and often life-saving information for the very populations that community-centered financing was created to serve.

“By connecting the dots between community media and community development, we hope to create an entirely new funding source for media outlets serving communities of color, positioning them to advance a more inclusive narrative of the economy — and to compete in that economy.”

 “When you look at this project it’s hard not to see a virtuous cycle,” added Randy Picht, RJI’s executive director. “Funding that’s already earmarked to bolster opportunity and make a community stronger is used to revitalize an important community resource — a news organization — and that news organization uses the funding to improve its own infrastructure and build more capacity to better serve the community.”

David Morgan

Coming up in Part 2: The Pilot Publishers and Good Company