Initiative in Reporting on Race and Criminal Justice | Columbia Journalism School

Initiative in Reporting on Race and Criminal Justice

The Lipman Center’s Initiative in Reporting on Race and Criminal Justice seeks to illuminate the inequalities and what has gone wrong in the American criminal justice system. The project provides local newsrooms and reporters the financial assistance and professional collaboration they might need to pursue major reporting projects in their communities on law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial and incarceration racial and human rights abuses.

The criminal justice initiative amplifies the Lipman Center's mission of reporting in the public interest on civil and human rights and comes at a crucial juncture in the history of race and rights in the United States.

The toll of inequality within our criminal justice system has seldom been more apparent. This program is meant to heighten our awareness of the specific problems and implications of particular practices and policies in criminal justice in hopes of spurring productive institutional change.

Under the auspices of the Lipman Center, led by Professor Jelani Cobb, the Initiative in Reporting on Race and Criminal Justice will annually award four grants ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 to individual newsrooms to pursue a six-month project in criminal justice abuse. The funds may be used for data acquisition, analysis and visualization, additional staff, FOIA requests, or travel, public health conditions permitting.

The program is made by possible by Arnold Ventures.

2021 Grant Recipients


Grant Application Guidelines

Applications for 2021-2022. Applications for 2022-23 will open in the spring.

  • A 1,000 to 1,500-word description of your project, to be submitted by the editor or lead reporter
  • A breakdown of budget
  • A list of staff involved
  • Proposed publication or broadcast date
  • Applications are open to all local newsrooms; grant must be completed within six months

You may email your application and proposal in Word or PDF to

You may also mail your application to the following address:

Lipman Center Criminal Justice Initiative
Columbia University School of Journalism
Pulitzer Hall
2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027