Ends on July 10, 2019

Application Timeline: June 6, 2019, 9am PST – July 10, 2019, noon PST

CatchLight Local Fellows Announced: September 2019

CatchLight Local is a place-based visual storytelling program that connects powerful visual storytelling directly with local newsrooms and community members to establish vital common ground for diverse insights and possible solutions to critical issues in a local context.  Starting with a 2019 pilot in the Bay Area, CatchLight, in partnership with the GroundTruth Project and their Report For America initiative, will be partnering three visual storytellers with local newsrooms for a period of three months to report visually on  important stories of economic inequality and inclusion.

In addition to a $15,000 stipend, the initiative offers personalized project development and distribution opportunities from CatchLight, GroundTruth, and local newsroom partners. CatchLight Local Fellows will work on their proposed projects from September 30, 2019, to December 31, 2019, with the support of their designated local newsroom partner. During this time period, the fellows will host one “town hall” event to engage local audiences in the creation of their work and spark meaningful dialogue with community members. These events will be tailored by the fellow, in consultation with CatchLight and community partners, to best serve local audiences and can range from informal community potlucks to pop up screenings while leveraging creative placemaking best practices.  

Following the completion of projects, CatchLight will offer continued amplification and engagement support for an additional three months from February-April 2020. The nature of the awarded artists’ work will determine the appropriate model for distribution and community engagement. CatchLight Local Fellows will be expected to participate in-person at two key CatchLight programs in San Francisco including a Visual Storytelling Summit in April 2020. Additionally, representatives from the CatchLight Local Initiative will be invited to at the annual CatchLight Leadership Retreat in November 2019. In April 2020 CL Local Fellows will be required to complete an in-person and written fellowship assessment survey. 

Eligibility: We are looking for exceptional talent, willingness to collaborate across newsrooms and communities, commitment to community engagement throughout project production and distribution, as well as a drive to shed light on diverse perspectives and issues of economic inequality in a local context. 

The program is open to people of all ages and levels of career experience who work with visual communication, including videographers and photographers working with lens-led technology for the purposes of visual storytelling, and a specific commitment to effecting change. Applicants may work in a broad range of visual formats including photography, video, audio, motion or VR. Proposals can outline the continuation of existing work or the creation of a new project keeping in mind the three-month deliverable timeline. 

Preference will be given to applicants with an existing community connection to the geographic region for which they are applying; applicants with relevant projects already in progress are welcome to apply. People of color and others whose perspectives are underrepresented in media are highly encouraged to apply.

Application & Selection Process: The application portal opens on June 6th and the deadline to apply is July 10th at noon PST. The CatchLight Local Fellowship pool will be formed by open call. Application includes work samples, professional references, a written proposal with the scope of project, and potential ideas for partnerships and distribution avenues that best fit the proposal. The CatchLight Local Initiative staff and program advisors will review applications, creating a short list of 2-4 finalists for each available position. Finalists will be notified by early August and scheduled for an interview with their potential host newsrooms. Selected applicants will be announced in September 2019. There is no fee to apply.

Rules and Guidelines

Applicants must submit one (1) application for themselves only.

Applicants may submit photographs or other visual formats such as audio, motion or VR.


  • All applications must be completed in English.
  • Project Title
  • Project Statement: Brief project synopsis. (100 words)
  • Project Proposal: Pitch the story and deliverables you plan to pursue as it relates to the theme of economic inequality, the local context, and community (or communities) you plan to work in. Why is the story you want to tell important and relevant to community members? Please articulate if you have a specific project in mind or already in progress you would like to pitch. If not please describe your planned approach to local newsroom-driven assignments on the theme of economic inequality. (500-750 words) 
  • Community Engagement: Outline how you plan to engage and serve the local community with your proposed project. Site past examples illustrating your approach to and experience with community-based visual storytelling. (500 words) 
  • CV 
  • Works Samples: One past or current project portfolio (please submit a sample from a singular project — up to 15 images, 5min video, along with any supplemental url links) 
  • Two Professional References (contact info)
  • If the applicant finds these conditions inappropriate for the nature of the work please contact CatchLight directly for advice on making a successful application.

Deliverables Upon Completion

Community Engagement: During the three-month fellowship term Fellows will host one “town hall” event to engage local audiences in the creation of their work and spark meaningful dialogue with community members. Following the completion of projects, CatchLight will offer continued amplification and engagement support for an additional three months from February-April 2020 including participation in the CatchLight Visual Storytelling Summit in spring 2020. 

Prints and other media: The Fellow will be required to deliver digital imagery or video and other relevant work upon completion of the project for archival storage and CatchLight programming. CatchLight may request permission for the sale of images under mutually agreed upon conditions for the purpose of benefiting the future reach of the CatchLight mission and enhancing the cohort.

Ethical Standards: Fellows are required to adhere to the highest ethical standards in the preparation and presentation of any work produced under CatchLight auspices. CatchLight reserves the right to revoke the Fellowship and reclaim all funds if a project is found to deliberately present misleading information or if anyone associated with the work has been coerced into participation or if financial inducements have been offered above reasonable expenses.

Media and Distribution: CatchLight will collaborate with each Fellow and paired newsroom around social media responsibilities, distribution intentions, partnership development, communications, publicity and general support.

Rights: The Fellows will retain copyright in all work submitted to CatchLight and produced in the course of the awarded fellowship. CatchLight and designated newsroom partners will have non-exclusive rights to publish materials from the awarded project, including for the purpose of promoting CatchLight and the Fellowship, with appropriate credit always given to the owner.

Amount of Fellowship: A grant of $15,000 in funding during the three-month period. The cash grant will be issued 50% on approval and 50% upon completion. 

Assessment Practices: At approximately the midpoint and conclusion of the fellowship period CatchLight will schedule feedback interviews and administer evaluation surveys to CL Local Fellows and partner newsroom personnel. Community members may also be solicited for voluntary feedback during or following relevant public engagements. These evaluations will be utilized to inform the overall effectiveness of the CL Local Initiative each year.     

Where can I find out more? Contact CatchLight Local Program Lead Jenny Stratton at jenny@catchlight.io