Spark Grant Initiative

Seeking Sparks

WFSJ and its partners launch the Spark Grant Initiative

We are pleased to invite members of the WFSJ to build on the success of the last two World Conferences of Science Journalists (WCSJ) through a new initiative from the five associations of science journalists that organized these events.

The Spark Grant Initiative (SGI) will provide funding for work that strengthens science journalism locally while also benefitting the worldwide community. Proposals are now being accepted for projects that enhance the boundaries of science journalism at every level, applying novel approaches, novel tools, knowledge sharing, international cooperation, and ideas with the ability to surprise us all.

SGI has been funded with US$100,000 that has been provided by the Swiss Association of Science Journalism, Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d’information (France), Science Writers in Italy, the National Association of Science Writers (United States), and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. The program will run under the auspices of the WFSJ, which will showcase the results of the chosen projects as part of next year’s World Conference of Science Journalists in Medellín, Colombia.

On behalf of the entire team that has created the SGI and will be administering it, we are looking forward to reading your contributions. I am excited to have a front-row seat to watch our members exercise their skills and imaginations. I hope we can inspire you to take us out of our comfort zone and into some promising new places!

Olivier Dessibourg, Chair of the WCSJ SGI

How SGI will work

Individual projects are eligible for grants of up to US$20,000. Funds will be paid out in two separate stages.

Who can participate?

Eligible applicants fall into one of these three categories:

  • An individual member of one of the WFSJ’s 67 member associations and working with independent media as a staff employee or freelance journalist
  • A group made up of such members
  • A member association

In each case applicants must obtain a letter from a designated representative of the relevant member association. This document will state how the association will be involved (or not) in the management and completion of the proposed project.

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • Proposals can be put forward by individuals or groups, but they must be presented in the name of a WFSJ member association along with a letter that defines the association’s relationship with the project.
  • Each person/group/association can submit only one project. The same individual cannot be part of two different groups.
  • Projects or initiatives must be brand new, i.e., not the continuation or renewal of existing initiative.
  • The proposed activity must be entirely journalistic, which means independent of vested interests, balanced in its perspective, and respecting ethics associated with the profession.
  • Special consideration will be given to projects strengthening the cooperation between science journalists’ communities in different countries or designed as demonstration projects that others might emulate.
  • If the project is based on digital technology, the software platform should be open source and the content ready to be shared with other interested parties.
  • Proposals must contain a detailed budget and precise timeline, with clear descriptions of at least two milestones and deliverables.
  • Proposals must be made in English, but projects themselves can be conducted and presented in another language.

How are applications submitted?

Send your expression of interest to office@wfsj.org. You will then be sent a form asking for background information about the applicant(s), including curriculum vitae, details about the proposed project, and a letter of confirmation from a representative of the member association that will be linked with this project. All this material is to be completed and returned to the WFSJ by the deadline, Saturday, 30 October 2021, 12 noon Eastern Time (North America). Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Note: Some results from the winning projects should be available by June 2022 for a formal presentation as part of WCSJ2022 in Medellín, Colombia. Representatives of these projects may be invited to the conference, but the SGI program will not necessarily finance their travel there.

How will the projects be reviewed?

A jury of professionals in the fields of science journalism and association management will evaluate each proposal. This group will conduct a thorough deliberation to consider their individual recommendations and establish a consensus around those proposals that best match SGI’s criteria. After winning applications have been chosen, those applicants may be asked to change their original project design to meet SGI criteria. A revised version of those projects must be submitted for a final approval before being launched. In all cases the decision of the jury is final and applicants will have no recourse against any member of the jury with regard to the results.