NPF, NPCJI award $73,920 to five grantees for environmental justice journalism

The National Press Foundation and the National Press Club Journalism Institute have jointly awarded $73,920 in Kozik Environmental Justice Reporting grants to five journalists to fund stories on environmental justice. This is the second year that the two leading journalism organizations have partnered to fund cutting-edge investigative environmental projects.

The grantees and projects selected by the judges for reporting and publishing in 2023 are:

  • Will Atwater, North Carolina Health News ($7,500). Atwater will investigate how stakeholders balance economic and political interests with environmental concerns as they explore whether to mine western North Carolina’s Tin-Spodumene deposit for lithium to support the growing electric car market.
  • Kira Kay, Bureau for International Reporting ($20,000). Kay will document the rare, realtime return of the 19,000-acre National Bison Range in Montana to tribal leadership. The project will report a new way forward for land management through the transfer of best practices and resources from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as they meld with indigenous knowledge and culture.
  • Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch ($15,000). Sorg’s reporting will focus on the residents in Robeson County, North Carolina — one of the poorest counties in the state, as well as among its sickest. She’ll explore the history and effects of environmental permitting and regulations, as well as economic development, that prioritized industry over vulnerable communities of color. 
  • Ottavia Spaggiari, Freelance ($15,920). Spaggiari’s project will focus on the experiences of three non-federally recognized tribes (the Houma, the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and the Chinook) on the frontlines of climate change to  uncover how climate disasters and the requirements of the federal recognition process exacerbate climate injustice and disenfranchise Tribal Nations in the United States. 
  • Adam Wagner, The Raleigh News & Observer ($15,500). Wagner will investigate how North Carolina regulators account for existing pollution in their permitting decisions. He’ll analyze current polluters’ profiles in consultation with researchers nationwide to create a cumulative impact per Census tract to show the effects on low-income areas and communities of color.

“At a time of climate and biodiversity crises, we are delighted to be able to offer grants to journalists to help ensure that these issues are covered with a focus on the people who are most at risk of harm,” said Sonni Efron, President and CEO of the National Press Foundation. 

“We anticipate these thoughtful projects will lead to greater understanding of and accountability for environmental injustices taking place in communities across the country,” said Beth Francesco, interim executive director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute. “These journalists and their reporting will give voice to those most impacted by these historic inequities while lighting a way forward.”

The Kozik Grants are funded by a 1991 gift from the late Dr. Franklin Kozik in honor of his deceased son Robert Kozik. The five grantees were selected by judges Antonia Juhasz, Yanick Rice Lamb, and Harriet Washington, distinguished journalists and teachers who have produced notable work in exposing environmental racism and its consequences. The work produced by the 2021 Kozik grantees can be seen here.

Another round of Kozik grants will be offered later this year.

All U.S.-based journalists are also eligible to apply for the National Press Foundation’s Thomas L. Stokes Award for best writing on energy and the environment. Applications will open on Jan. 19, 2023.

About The National Press Foundation

The National Press Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to “make good journalists better.” We educate journalists on the complex issues of the day and train them to use the latest reporting tools and techniques. The foundation recognizes and encourages excellence in journalism through its awards and fellowships.

About the National Press Club Journalism InstituteThe National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. As the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, the Institute powers journalism in the public interest.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments