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Submission Guidelines

What is the Economic Hardship Reporting Project?

EHRP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that produces compelling journalism on economic inequality in America. We give grants to independent journalists reporting on issues related to poverty, economic class, workers’ rights, and income disparity in the U.S., and co-publish their work in partnership with major media outlets. Many of our contributors are journalists struggling to financially sustain themselves in the increasingly low-paying media industry. We encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds to apply.

What kinds of stories do you support?

We commission news stories, narrative features, investigative reports, documentaries, nonfiction comics, illustrated works, photo essays, podcasts and radio features.about economic inequality in the United States. Personal essays are welcome only if they are completed or close-to-completed.

Do you commission stories about places outside the U.S.?

We focus on this country, but we will consider an international story – or a pitch from a reporter based outside the U.S. – that also examines inequality in America. For instance, we underwrote a short film about how Immigration and Customs Enforcement broke up one immigrant family from El Salvador.

How much are typical grants?

Multiple factors determine the size of grants we offer, including but not limited to the size of the outlet, the difficulty of reporting involved, the quality of writing, the journalist’s experience and their prior relationship with EHRP. We are currently distributing small grants that are not intended to cover their entire cost of these projects. Our typical grant amounts are as follows:

  • News stories, $800–1,500
  • Narrative features, $1–1.25/word, capped at $2,500
  • Personal essays or op-eds, $750–1,500, depending on your experience and the amount of reporting involved. First-time contributors to EHRP typically receive $750.
  • Investigative reports, $1–1.25/word, capped at $2,500
  • Documentaries:
    • Because of the size of these projects, we tend to only partially fund them on a small scale, typically supporting short documentaries up to $5,000.
    • In lieu of a grant, we occasionally collaborate on documentaries, contributing our resources and network.
    • We are not currently supporting feature films, but would like to do so again should our funding permit.
  • Smaller nonfiction comics or illustrated works can receive $500–1,000; larger projects are capped at $2,500.
  • Photo essays, $500 a day, typically capped at five days.
  • Audio projects:
    • Because of the size of these projects, we tend to only partially fund them on a small scale. Rates are typically $1,500–4,000.
    • In lieu of a grant, we occasionally collaborate on podcasts, contributing our resources and network.

Do you pay travel expenses?

Yes. Our travel grants help cover the cost of certain travel expenses related to a reporting trip, such as flights, hotels, mileage or rental cars. At the moment these grants are capped at $2,000.

Do contributors need journalism experience to apply for a grant?

To be eligible for a grant, applicants must have reporting experience, be previously published and self-identify as a journalist. EHRP’s editors expect writers to file multiple drafts of pieces if needed. All contributors should have reported pieces of this kind previously and be able to share links to or clips of reported work.

Does EHRP fact-check stories?

EHRP asks our partner publications to fact-check stories, though under certain circumstances we provide this service.

Can I use anonymous sources?

All sources should be referred to by full names except in rare circumstances that must be approved by EHRP’s editors.

Can publications apply for grants?

No. Our mission is to support independent journalists.

Can teams apply?

Yes.

Another nonprofit has already given me a grant. Can I still apply to EHRP?

Yes. We believe in collaboration and partnerships.

Do I need an assignment to get a grant?

We ask grant applicants to submit this completed letter of commitment from a large media outlet. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and The Guardian, as well as many other media outlets, have co-published stories by EHRP contributors. Typically, we partner only with big national publications (the bigger the reach, the better), but with rare exceptions we partner with smaller outlets that grant us access to a unique audience. Here’s an example.

What if I don't have a partner publication lined up?

Applications must have a partner publication lined up. We make rare exceptions for journalists who have a well-developed story or pitch that fits our mission but are highly financially stressed and/or positioned outside traditional media networks. If you meet these conditions, in the letter of commitment section of the application, you can upload a brief statement in lieu of a letter of commitment. Please note that response times to pitches without a letter of commitment take much longer.

Explain your policy on crediting EHRP.

A story is only eligible for an EHRP grant if it is accepted by a publication that agrees to include a line of attribution with a live link to our organization. A typical credit line reads “This article is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.” Acknowledgement of our effort and support is critical to our nonprofit’s operation; we rely on credit lines for fundraising and raising awareness about our mission.

How do I apply for a grant?

Before you click the “Pitch Portal” button below, make sure you have the following required items for your grant application:

  • A well-researched but brief pitch of less than 500 words that includes
    • A nut graf that clearly articulates central thesis
    • A strong voice
    • Supporting data
    • A brief description of the sources you plan to use (bonus if the story is character-driven)
    • A clear class/economic inequality angle (U.S.-based stories about economic inequality only)
  • A letter of commitment from a major national publication. Please use this template.
  • Links to three clips of your published work
  • A link to your website or portfolio (optional)
  • Links to your active social media accounts (optional)
  • Your resume
  • Photographers should send us low-resolution images (72 dpi) along with a pitch or a query letter attached. All images should include captions in the metadata or an attached caption document.
  • Let us know if other news outlets have covered your story and how your piece will be different.

Is there an application deadline?

We accept applications on a rolling basis.

When can I expect a decision on my application?

We appreciate your submission and look forward to reviewing it. A few things to note: We typically review submissions within two weeks. If you have not heard back from EHRP within three weeks, please assume that your pitch has not been accepted. Though we try our best, we cannot respond to every pitch we receive. We are a small team fielding a heavy influx of pitches. We thank you for you patience and understanding.

Can I apply more than once?

If your first application doesn’t get accepted, we encourage you to read our work closely and try again.

Note that we aim to spread our grant money around and tend to say no to contributors who we’ve already supported with more than one grant per year.

What story topics is EHRP looking to assign now?

We are currently looking for first-person essays, reported features and op-eds tackling stories about economic inequality and how it relates to:

  • Housing and eviction, like this piece
  • Gig and frontline work, especially first hand accounts
  • Religion where it intersects with income inequality
  • Union activism and labor organizing
  • Tech work, and tech’s impact on work
  • Being laid off and unemployment
  • Reproductive rights
  • Caregiving
  • Parenting
  • Queer/trans working-class and economically unstable experiences
  • Election stories that examine economic inequality in America. That could include stories about voter suppression or stories about the most pressing economic concerns of poor, middle class and working class American voters, the impact of candidate proposals on the economic wellbeing of financially-stressed Americans, etc.

What stories are you always looking to assign?

Other areas we are always interested in: where income inequality intersects with religion, immigration, education, parenting/families, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, health, maternal health, disability, culture, housing, agriculture, aging, work, etc…

Do you have examples of EHRP-supported stories that exemplify what you're looking for?

Absolutely. We commission a range of genres.

They can be narrative feature stories, such as this piece about coal ash cleanup workers co-published with The Guardian and Southerly, this piece on nursing homes co-published with The Guardian, this piece about working class voters co-published with The New Yorker or this piece about the HIV epidemic among women co-published with National Geographic.

They can be reported personal essays that transport readers to your world and expand their emotional understanding of your experience with economic inequality, such as this piece about homeless veterans co-published with Newsweek, this piece about struggling to find a psychiatrist who takes Medicaid co-published with the Chicago Reader, this piece about working at a grocery store during the pandemic co-published with The New Republic or this piece about falling out of the middle class later in life co-published with The Washington Post.

They can be investigative features, such as this series about housing and evictions done in partnership with The Utah Investigative Journalism Project and co-published with The Salt Lake Tribune.

They can be op-eds. These op-eds can advocate for structural change in the media, such as this piece  that was co-published with CJR. They can use pop culture as a jumping off point to discuss inequality, such as this piece about the cancellation of the TV show “Cops,” co-published with The Intercept and this piece about “Squid Game,” co-published with Teen Vogue. Op-eds grappling with class and economic inequality can draw from an array of research, such as this piece unpacking a study about air rage and class, co-published with The Guardian.

Is there anything else that grantees should be aware of?

We will expect you to support EHRP by

(1) suggesting other journalists we might want to enlist;

(2) helping us promote your published work through social media and possibly interviews; and

(3) including EHRP in your official bio.

We have more questions. Can we call EHRP’s editors?

Please use info@economichardship.org to submit further questions that have not been answered on this page. We only answer emails during working hours. We are a small staff fielding hundreds of applications. In order to respond to grant applications in a timely manner, we limit our communication to email.

Pitch us!

Before you click the “Pitch Portal” button below, make sure you have the following required items:

  • A well-researched but brief pitch of less than 500 words that includes
    • A nut graf that clearly articulates central thesis
    • A strong voice
    • Supporting data
    • A brief description of the sources you plan to use (bonus if the story is character-driven)
    • A clear class/economic inequality angle (U.S.-based stories about economic inequality only)
  • A letter of commitment from a major national publication. Please use this template.
  • Links to three clips of your published work
  • A link to your website or portfolio (optional)
  • Links to your active social media accounts (optional)
  • Your resume
  • Photographers should send us low-resolution images (72 dpi) along with a pitch or a query letter attached. All images should include captions in the metadata or an attached caption document.
  • Let us know if other news outlets have covered your story and how your piece will be different.
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