The Colorado Media Project (CMP) has awarded grants totalling $50,000 to eight local media outlets and two nonprofit community organizations on the front lines of providing accurate information about COVID-19 to Colorado’s diverse racial/ethnic communities and non-English-speaking residents.

The COVID-19 Informed Communities Fund was established by CMP with support from The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, Democracy Fund, Gates Family Foundation, and Rose Community Foundation to address the need for more diversity in COVID news coverage and to ensure that Colorado’s immigrant communities and people of color have timely, reliable local news and information about COVID-19 from trusted sources.

Over the next six months, grant recipients will collaborate with dozens of independent local news outlets already participating in the Colorado News Collaborative’s COVID Coverage Network, to increase access to accurate, localized, and actionable information on the continuously evolving COVID-19 public health and economic crises.

The range of COVID-19 Informed Communities grant recipients is broad, including two immigrant and refugee centers that provide public health information in more than 15 languages via SMS and WhatsApp; television and radio stations catering to the Spanish-speaking residents in Denver, Colorado Springs, and mountain communities; one community radio station serving Ute tribal communities in the Four Corners and another serving  Aurora’s Ethiopian and East African populations; a hyperlocal print outlet serving Colorado Springs’ most diverse ZIP codes; and print and digital media hubs serving Colorado’s Asian and African-American communities.

The following news outlets and community groups will each receive $5,000 grants along with coaching and programmatic support to underwrite their participation in COLab’s COVID-19 Coverage Network:

The grant opportunity was open to Colorado-based local and community media, as well as nonprofit organizations. Recipients were selected for their ability to actively reach and engage specific and underrepresented audiences or geographic areas to share timely updates on the unfolding COVID-19 public health crisis and related economic impacts.

Black and Latino workers are more frequently working in jobs classified as critical or otherwise lack the ability to stay home. Many immigrants are small business owners or employed in hospitality and gig work impacted by stay-at-home orders. Early in the pandemic, reports of discrimination and targeted bias against members of Asian communities was widespread.

As the state moves towards re-opening, there is a need for timely outreach and deep listening to those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, particularly low-income residents and community members of color who face significant health disparities, higher rates of chronic health conditions, lower insurance rates, and limited access to care.

“Media outlets and nonprofits serving immigrant communities are best suited to identify the information needs of their communities, and have long filled gaps left by mainstream, English-only media. These outlets and organizations are bridging language and cultural barriers to provide critical, often lifesaving information, and reporting the news through a lens of direct impact on communities,” said Melissa Milios Davis, Acting Director of Colorado Media Project. “Through this grant, immigrant-serving nonprofits and monolingual- and bilingual media will work alongside mainstream media to ensure that a robust stream of COVID-19 news and updates are available in multiple languages and distributed widely via Colorado newsrooms and trusted community platforms.”