Former licensee of Philadelphia’s WYBE announces first round of grant recipients

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Independence Public Media of Philadelphia, the former licensee of public TV station WYBE, announced Tuesday its first round of grants since it received $131.5 million in the FCC broadcast spectrum auction and became a grantmaking organization.

The foundation is giving $5.3 million to 11 local nonprofits, including public station WHYY.

The permanent endowment funded by the auction will focus on “strengthening and connecting diverse voices and fostering greater understanding across the Greater Philadelphia region,” according to an announcement that includes the full list of grantees.

“WYBE was the only station in the country to seize the opportunity of the auction to transform itself from a broadcaster into a private foundation, believing it could have far greater and longer-lasting impact as a funder on the communities it served,” wrote President Molly de Aguiar on Medium.

De Aguiar and the board of directors will provide grants to reflect the organization’s goals of “an expansive definition of media, including journalism, digital literacy, and creative expression, as a pathway for building power with communities,” the grant announcement said.

WHYY will receive $250,000 in commissioning funds to “expand its work with freelancers and reporters from racially and ethnically diverse media outlets who will produce programming for WHYY News,” the announcement said.

WHYY staffers will also undergo cultural competency training to “provide opportunities for conversations around divisive issues and pressing local and national concerns,” according to the release.

Other grantees include the Doc Society, an international documentary organization that works locally as Good Pitch Philly to connect social-justice filmmakers with community allies, which receives $307,500. And $1.3 million goes to the Lenfest Institute of Journalism, which is developing sustainable business models for local journalism.

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