E.W. Scripps Co. has created a new public charity in a shift in its philanthropy strategy.
The transition comes as the Cincinnati-based media company is seeking donations to the new charity through Sept. 9 for its annual book drive, while also announcing that it is making a $3.8 million grant to a journalism fact-checking project by its historic foundation.
“This change represents an engaged approach to philanthropy that aligns with the company’s commitment to giving back and focus on measurable community impact,” said Liz Carter, president and CEO of the newly created Scripps Howard Fund and its longtime Scripps Howard Foundation.
The foundation is a private foundation, while the new Scripps Howard Fund is a public charity. Each is governed by different IRS rules for sourcing and distributing funds. The public charity unlocks new opportunities to engage others in Scripps’ philanthropic work, particularly Scripps audiences, communities and advertising partners, Carter said.
The fund and foundation will work collaboratively and collectively to invest approximately $6 million annually in journalism and community philanthropy, with around $900,000 of that dedicated to causes in Greater Cincinnati.
Scripps’ “If You Give a Child a Book…” campaign, in its seventh year, runs through Sept. 9. Donations at wcpo.com/giveabook will stay local to help children in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Scripps will distribute the 1 millionth book in the program this academic school year. For every $5 donation through ifyougiveabook.com, the Scripps fund gives one book to a child in need. Scripps’ local television stations and national networks partner with Title 1 schools to reach underserved and vulnerable children living in poverty, with special attention to the critical kindergarten through third grade years when children are still learning to read.
Meanwhile, the foundation is providing its latest grant to fund the “Disarming Disinformation” project with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The three-year project will empower journalists and journalism students to fight disinformation in the news media.
“Disarming Disinformation” will operate under ICFJ’s Pamela Howard Forum for Global Crisis Reporting, which connects journalists in the U.S. and around the world with experts to strengthen their reporting. The forum honors ICFJ vice chair Pamela Howard, a Scripps Howard Foundation trustee emeritus, and her decades of leadership and contributions to journalism.
Thousands of journalists and journalism students, including those from the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University, will receive training on topics such as fact checking and verification and digital security.
The project will fund research into new tools to combat disinformation and will allow journalists worldwide to collaborate on investigations into misinformation and disinformation campaigns. The goal will be to produce and share resources, including case studies on the solutions revealed by the research and any lessons learned.
“From Russia’s war on Ukraine to the global COVID-19 pandemic to assaults on democracy in the United States and elsewhere, we’ve seen how these lies can have fatal results,” said ICFJ President Sharon Moshavi. “Every journalist in the world must become a disinformation reporter, and Disarming Disinformation will help address that urgent need.”
“Journalists face an uphill battle with inaccurate and false information spreading at an alarming rate,” said Carter. “This approach will not only help journalists detect misinformation and disinformation but will also expose them to practical solutions to combat this issue, which is undermining trust in journalism across the globe.”
The initiative will begin with a series of training webinars followed by in-person workshops. The grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation will help fund the project until 2025.
Founded 60 years ago by members of the Scripps and Howard families, the Scripps Howard Foundation will continue to support Scripps’ charitable efforts through its endowment and by working with certain donors and programs. It has served more than 1.5 million people through its support of journalism education, childhood literacy and improving communities where Scripps does business.
Going forward, however, most of Scripps charitable work will be accomplished through the new Scripps Howard Fund charity. For donors who wish to give via a private foundation or donor-advised fund, giving to the fund may be a simpler vehicle.
The process for applying for funds from Scripps will remain the same, but payments will be administered by the fund and – once approved – may be made by either the fund or the foundation.