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GNI Fundamentals Lab for INN Members

The Google News Initiative (GNI) Fundamentals Lab for INN Members is a cohort-based program that provides newsrooms with insights and training in audience development, reader revenue and sponsor advertising. After completing the program, participating newsrooms can receive up to $20,000 in funding to apply lessons learned. This opportunity is open exclusively to INN members.

Over a three-month period, newsrooms will receive personalized audits of their current activities, attend learning sessions, and participate in working groups to compare performance and tactics related to each topic area. Participants will also have access to INN coaches to support in prioritizing next steps, and by the end of the program, newsrooms will be invited to submit their plan to receive implementation funds.

The GNI Fundamentals Lab for INN Members serves as a way to learn and apply best practices researched by Google News Initiative, while providing an opportunity for nonprofit news professionals to connect with others doing similar work across the INN Network. 

Questions? Get in touch with our team at fundamentalslab@inn.org or read our FAQ below.

How to Apply

INN members may apply to participate in the program on a rolling basis.

Click here to view the application questions in advance.

To be eligible, your organization must:

Cohort Timeline

INN members will have the opportunity to join one of six cohorts. The training program for each cohort will happen over 12 weeks. During this time, newsrooms will attend six hour-long sessions which occur every other week.

To be considered for each cohort, organizations must apply by the specified deadlines listed. Please note that cohorts may fill up sooner, as applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cohort 1 (October 2023 to January 2024)

Cohort 2 (February to May 2024)

Cohort 3 (April 2024 to July 2024)

The target segments and dates for Cohorts 4, 5 and 6 will be announced at a later date. For the latest updates, feel free to either email fundamentalslab@inn.org or check back to this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Lab

How does the program work?

INN members have the opportunity to join one of six cohorts to participate in a GNI Fundamentals Lab designed for nonprofit newsrooms. After completing the program, INN will award newsrooms up to $20,000 to implement lessons learned in the training.

When can we take part?

The program will be offered in six separate rounds, starting October 2023 through December 2024. About 60 news organizations will be selected for each of the six cohorts. In the first three cohorts, INN intends to build groups of newsrooms with similar sizes and growth stages as it will allow the training to be more effective. Later cohorts may be grouped differently though that will be determined later.

How many total newsrooms will be able to benefit from this program?

Up to 372 newsrooms can be selected to participate in this program.

Application & Eligibility

Do I have to be an INN member to participate in this program?

Yes! You must have been an INN member for at least six months to start the program. Because the first cohort won’t begin until October, any INN member accepted by April 1, 2023, will be considered eligible for the first cohort. Organizations admitted after April 1 will be eligible to apply six months after the anniversary of their acceptance.

What other stipulations are there for selection?

To be eligible, your organization must:

What is the cost to apply and participate in the GNI Fundamentals Lab?

There is no cost to the newsroom to apply or participate in the program.

How can I determine if my organization completed last year’s INN Index?

Feel free to send an email to fundamentalslab@inn.org and we can confirm for you.

My organization is not an INN member, but I am a part of a collaboration that is. Am I eligible to participate?

Unfortunately, newsroom collaborators are not eligible for the program if they are not INN members. The INN member that meets the lab requirements would need to attend the training and receive funding. However, member organizations are welcome to invite a staffer or two at other organizations within the collaboration to participate in learning sessions.

I’m not an INN member, but I’d like to be. Can I apply for membership and then apply to this program?

Absolutely. INN accepts membership applications on a year-round basis. Learn about our membership process. INN anticipates being able to award funding to at least some organizations that are not yet members. If you’re interested in this program and think you’re a fit for INN membership, apply for membership by Dec. 31, 2023 to be eligible for a cohort in late 2024.

Which organizations will be selected for the first cohort, the second, etc.? 

The first cohort will prioritize large organizations. Why large organizations? Because the first cohort will run during the fall, which is a busy fundraising time for most nonprofit newsrooms. Because of this, we are starting with organizations more likely to have the internal capacity to participate in training sessions while also running a successful year-end fundraising campaign.  The second cohort will be for small organizations and will begin in January or February 2024. The third cohort will be geared toward medium-sized organizations and begin in March or April 2024.

If I’m a small or mid-sized organization, can I still be considered for the first cohort? Or as a large organization, could I join one happening at a later time?

Possibly. You may note an alternative preferred cohort cycle in your application. However, in an effort to create the best learning environment, preference will be given to newsrooms that are most similar in size and growth stage. If you apply and we are not able to meet your preference, you will have the option to be reconsidered for a future cycle.

Where do I apply to join the first cohort? Can I apply for future cohorts now?

The application process will open July 31 and be promoted via all INN channels. Applications for all cohorts are welcomed, and INN will prioritize later cohorts based on when applications were received. In other words, if we have more interest than slots in the first few cohorts, selection for cohorts four, five and six will be based on when the application was received.

Am I able to participate in the GNI Fundamentals Lab as well as Transformation Tech or LION’s Sustainability Audit program? Can I receive funding through multiple programs?

You are able to participate and receive funding through the GNI Fundamentals Lab for INN members as well as LION’s Sustainability Audits or the Transformation Tech through NNPA, NAHP & AAN. There is no limitation to participate in one or the other this time.

Training

What will the training focus on?

The training will consist of three modules:

During each section, participants attend one live learning session, receive one personalized audit and participate in one workshop to compare performance and tactics with other participants.

How many people from my organization participate in the training?

You can identify up to five people to participate in the training sessions or modules that fall within their area of expertise. We just ask that you identify one individual from your organization as the primary contact to receive communications on the group’s behalf.

How much time will the training program take to complete?

The training program will happen over 12 weeks. During this time, newsrooms will attend a total of six hour-long sessions, which occur every other week.

Funding & Reporting

What can I spend the implementation funds on? And how do I get them?

After completing the GNI Fundamentals Lab, you will submit a plan (as well as certain banking information) to INN. The plan should detail how you will spend the money to advance your sustainability, specifically in the areas of audience development, small-dollar donations, or advertising and sponsorship. This can include technology, contracted services, personnel or any other category of expense that would support your plan’s objectives. Once INN confirms your plan meets those requirements, you will receive the funds via ACH from INN.

Newsrooms are not required to allocate funds to Google or INN products or services. However, they have the option to do so if they would aid in achieving their goals.

When can we expect to receive implementation funds?

If your proposal meets the minimum requirements, you can expect to receive implementation funds within 60 to 90 days of completing the training program. This would mean roughly five months after the cohort cycle start date. For example, if your cohort training program began Jan. 1, it would end by March 31. At that time you could apply for an implementation grant, which would be awarded by the end of May. Because the first cohort will begin October 2023, the earliest funds would be awarded to any INN member would be March 2024.

How will payments be made?

INN will make payments via ACH to selected organizations. You will be asked to provide updated banking information to INN during the application process.

Do I have to sign a contract with Google as part of the program?

You will have an agreement with INN governing your participation in the training program and your use of implementation funds. 

My organization participated in the GNI Fundamentals Lab in 2022. Are we able to apply for an implementation grant to apply the lessons we learned?

Yes, you can. Please reach out to our team at fundamentalslab@inn.org to start this process.

What sort of reporting will be required?

In order to minimize reporting impacts on newsrooms, INN will use Index data to demonstrate the quantitative impact of the training and implementation funding on nonprofit newsrooms. Data will be presented in aggregate based on cohort and other factors. No individual data will be shared with Google without separate, explicit permission from the organization. You will also be required to provide a short summary of qualitative impacts of the training and implementation funding six months after funding is disbursed.

Questions? Meet the INN staff member who can help.

Chief Network Officer

Jonathan Kealing

Jonathan Kealing strengthens collaboration and audience growth within the INN Network, developing partnerships and services that help them increase the reach and impact of their journalism.

Contact

Chief of Growth Programs

Courtney Lewis

Courtney Lewis oversees INN’s initiatives to accelerate the growth of nonprofit news organizations, including INN Days, NewsMatch and a myriad of newsroom leadership training programs.

Contact
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