At least 13 organizations, including local news outlets, technology startups, and community organizations, were selected by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism for its latest grants, totaling $475,000.

The Institute, which owns Philadelphia Media Network — the publisher of the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com — said in a statement Tuesday that the grants are aimed at fulfilling its mission of “supporting sustainable models for local journalism and information in service of democratic society.”

The winners were selected for the Local News Business Model Challenge, which will explore new business models for sustainable local news organizations, and the Philadelphia News Ecosystem Collaboration Grants, meant to bring together organizations in the Philadelphia area for closer collaboration.

The news comes weeks after cutbacks and layoffs were announced at multiple news organizations across the country, including the Dallas Morning News; Gannett Co., the large newspaper publisher; BuzzFeed; and HuffPost. Local news organizations have been struggling to adapt as advertising dollars move to the web — a market dominated by Google and Facebook — as readers increasingly read news online.

The institute said its business model challenge grants will fund projects that focus on reader-supported revenue such as subscriptions and memberships, or by creating revenue streams that capitalize on the trust and expertise of journalism organizations. The knowledge gleaned from these efforts, the institute hopes, can be widely adopted to sustain journalism in the region and around the United States.

The seven selected for the inaugural the business model challenge grants are:

  • The Associated Press and Newsday: To prototype a model for leveraging the Long Island newspaper’s local data with the AP’s news automation expertise to produce content that engages audiences and adds revenue through new local news products.
  • Distributed Media Lab: To develop a distributed model for monetizing syndication using the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) standard, expanding revenue potential for advertising and donations/memberships.
  • Pico: To prototype paid user marketing campaigns connected to audience data with the goal of increasing subscription and membership conversions.
  • VTDigger: To launch self-serve portals and a new revenue stream for user-sponsored content such as press releases, classifieds, and birth, wedding and engagement announcements.
  • SembraMedia: To create an audience growth and engagement toolkit in Spanish providing best practices on the most popular tools for driving local news revenue through donations, events, services and digital advertising.
  • Technical.ly: To create a prototype of a “Recruiter’s Dashboard” that will leverage reader data to match users with relevant job postings.
  • WBUR: To explore new mechanisms and practices for listeners to purchase items through affiliate programs that relate to products tied to the station’s journalism.

All the business model challenge grantees received $50,000 except for the AP/Newsday project, which received $25,000.

The collaboration grant program is also designed to bring together civic organizations and news outlets to work on projects that serve communities in the Philadelphia region. The six partnerships chosen for the inaugural $25,000 grants include:

  • The University of Pennsylvania Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) and its Healthy Library Initiative, together with the Inquirer, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the Free Library of Philadelphia: To raise public awareness and expand journalism and information sharing around a grassroots effort to equip more Philadelphians with naloxone, a drug that counters the effect of opioid overdoses, that will track people who are trained, encourage naloxone-carrying “commitment pledges,” and tell stories of lives saved.
  • The Reentry Think Tank, together with Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, Village of Arts and Humanities, People’s Paper Co-op, Defender Association of Philadelphia, Community Legal Services Resolve Philadelphia and the Juvenile Law Center: To create a journalism and new-media fellowship for formerly incarcerated Philadelphians.
  • Free Press, together with Germantown Info Hub, Kensington Voice, the People’s Education Center, Temple University, and WHYY: To train and mentor community members to work with residents, develop stories with journalists and boost information that helps counter stigmatized coverage.
  • Mighty Writers, together with CAMDEN, NJ: A Spirit Invincible, WHYY, the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden, and the Rutgers-Camden Office of Civic Engagement: To support a daily after-school workshop for Camden teens at a student newsroom focusing on issues relating to life in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden.
  • Media, Inequality and Change Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and Rutgers University, together with Media Mobilizing Project and the Inquirer Opinion section: To create a series of public dialogues between a diverse group of Philadelphia’s leading journalists and Philadelphia’s leading public advocates from across the political spectrum, in the run-up to local elections.
  • Untitled Folder LLC, together with Neo4j, Technically Media, Linode, and Code for Philly: To create an open-source web application project designed to empower citizens, journalists, data scientists, coders and creatives with the ability to harness open data for journalism, public information, and civic good.