An ambitious news philanthropy makes a sharp turn after just two years

The National Trust for Local News has found that the nonprofit sector ‘doesn’t need more coaches.’ Instead, it will send in a hands-on team.

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The National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit whose approach is to acquire and recapitalize financially precarious publications rather than give them grants, launched in the spring of 2021. Its first projects have been groups of 19 to 26 community news outlets in Colorado, Maine and central and south Georgia.

The Trust has raised and invested $38 million to date with financial support from the Knight Foundation, Google News Initiative, Open Society Foundation and several dozen more philanthropies and individuals. 

Co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro told me in an earlier article that the Trust was starting slowly by intent, following a learn-as-you-go philosophy to refine its unusual model. She decided two years in that a big and expensive pivot was indicated. 

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