Local that Works

Local that Works is an annual contest that spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations, and nonprofit news organizations in the U.S.

Explore the LTW database of 350+ projects. Entries from the 2020 contest will be added to this database this fall.

Tips on using the database: If viewing this on a computer, all projects are listed in the left column. Click on a project name and its longer profile will appear in the right column. If viewing on mobile, clicking on a project name will load the full listing on your screen.

You can filter your results by selecting a tag or multiple tags in the categories drop down menu and clicking on search. If you want to change, broaden or narrow the results, make sure to uncheck categories for subsequent searches.

To see previous Local that Works contest winners, finalists and semi-finalists, click on green, purple or orange tags and our judges’ favorite projects will show up in the left column.

Get inspired!

64 results found.

Radio Milwaukee – Grace Weber’s Music Lab

WYMS 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Grace Weber’s Music Lab (GWML) is a free monthly music education program and talent accelerator for Milwaukee area high schoolers, providing opportunities to refine performance skills; build connections between engaged and talented young people; expose participants to the multiple career opportunities available in creative industries; and to participate in performances and talks by professional musicians, entertainment industry professionals and artists. This program is critical to meeting the growing and changing needs of our city and youth – Grace Weber’s Music Lab reaches kids with art forms that are increasingly relevant and central to their lives, including diverse music from hip-hop to alternative to spoken word.

“I just want to testify…”


To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, PBS in Topeka created this two-hour community conversation with students and teachers from the segregation era. Shot in a modern-day Cinema Verite’ style on a single day in 2019, students and teachers from the four segregated Black schools in Topeka talked about their lives prior to and after integration. The five-part series included: Growing up in Topeka’s Black Community; Family, Friends, Neighbors; School and You (Segregation); School and You (Integration); and After-effects (outcomes, impact).

@myVPM on Instagram


VPM’s Instagram is a social media strategy that provides a platform to highlight Virginians who educate, entertain and inspire. This strategy has manifest itself through quality and expressive portrait photography, intimate first-person story telling and remarkable community building. VPM’s Instagram gained over 4,000 followers since taking on this strategy, increased our engagement and built new collaborations with local organizations.

A Parent’s Guide to Public Schools (2019 Finalist)

Voice of San Diego

A Parent’s Guide to Public Schools is a free “consumer report” tool, distributed to 50,000 families to aid parents in making decisions about their childrens’ education. The Guide, produced in English and Spanish, provides an overview of every local public school’s performance in easy-to-read charts, with answers to basic questions about public school options. VOSD works UC San Diego to analyze the school performance data and with the San Diego Workforce Partnership to cover topics like vocational training. Read Current’s coverage of this project.

Bluegrass Monday

KASU, 91.9 FM and kasu.org, public radio

On the fourth Monday night of each month, KASU presents “Bluegrass Monday,” a concert series in its 17th year, bringing professional bluegrass musicians to Paragould, Arkansas, for affordable, family-friendly concerts. Admission is always free. KASU feels presenting these concerts not only promotes its radio broadcasts of bluegrass music, but the concerts also help to promote the culture of the region that includes the nearby Ozark Mountains. All concerts are recorded for broadcast on KASU at a later date.

Framed by WDET (2019 Winner)

WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station

WDET’s mission is to be the authentic voice of Detroit. Framed by WDET is a multimedia series that integrates photography and audio storytelling to present the authentic stories of Detroit’s ethnic and cultural communities on the radio, online, in a photobook, and at pop-up exhibitions in more than 20 art spaces in the Detroit region and beyond. Produced in collaboration with a community of Detroit-based photographers and storytellers, Framed empowers local residents to contribute to and inform the station’s programming. Read Current’s story about Framed.

Iowa Land and Sky

Iowa PBS

Iowa PBS’ Iowa Land and Sky project provides general and classroom audiences with a unique perspective of the state’s geology, biodiversity and environmental issues. Through short video stories, online experiences, classroom resources and social media conversations, this initiative has helped Iowans better appreciate the ecological and geological diversity of the state, and the impacts of climate change, by successfully creating high-quality resources and engaging general and educational audiences in this content.

KPBS Explore Local Content Project


KPBS launched the “Explore” program in 2012 as an experiment to grow the station’s library of local programs while cultivating new, young and diverse talent. Every two years, KPBS opens a community-wide call for content ideas and offers seed funding to create local TV shows, web series and podcasts. The producers retain ownership of their project and are responsible for raising the extra funds needed to stay afloat. The program has spawned four podcasts and more than a dozen TV and web series.

Radio Milwaukee – Grace Weber’s Music Lab

WYMS 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Public Radio
Maggie Corry

The Music Lab was formed out of vocalist Grace Weber’s desire to give back to her city. Looking for a community partner, Weber reached out to 88Nine. Radio Milwaukee is one of the organizations transforming Milwaukee and galvanizing people to participate in its revitalization. Our unique mission, talented staff and Walker’s Point home makes us uniquely equipped to spearhead this effort. GWML channels the momentum in our music scene, while also addressing the city’s unique racial and social challenges by educating and uniting area youth.

GWML takes place monthly during the school year at Radio Milwaukee’s studios, reaching up to 100 youth per event. A critical element is recruiting participants from across Milwaukee to facilitate connections between students who may otherwise never meet. Partnerships with youth development organizations and high schools support recruitment efforts. Each Lab begins with a 30-minute educational module led by a professional musician or industry expert about different elements of the music business. The next hour is devoted to students’ open mic performances. After each performance, teaching artists and guests lead short, affirmative critiques and conversations with the students.

In the interest of safety during COVID-19, GWML quickly pivoted to virtual programming in March, and saw an increase in attendance with an amazing 606 participants in May’s Lab!
GWML’s caliber relies on the passion and expertise of artists involved, stoking enthusiasm, drawing on real life expertise and providing actionable feedback. We are proud of the musicians and educators who make this possible:

Founder – Grace Weber is a Milwaukee-born, Grammy-winning vocalist, actively working out of LA and returning to Milwaukee for each in-person Lab. With extensive connections in the industry, she is perfectly positioned to program events that are relevant and compelling to young artists.

Music Education Coordinator – Britney Freeman-Farr/B~Free, an educator and accomplished vocalist and flutist, oversees GWML. She brings her experience as a former school music director and practicing artist.

Grace and Britney represent white and Black communities, private and public schooling and a broad range of experiences, making them understanding and responsive to the students they serve. Further, GWML incorporates student voices through surveys, interviews and an internship program. Examples of past featured guests include Jamila Woods; Aja Monet; WebsterX; Nate Fox, Nico Segal, and Peter Cottontail of The Social Experiment; Lex Allen; Kweku Mandela and Elliott Skinner.

An important investment in the soul of a city is creating opportunities for youth to participate and benefit from a thriving music scene. We believe that student collaboration through music is critical to bridging the divides in Milwaukee communities. We hope that new friendships — and maybe even Milwaukee’s next big thing — will form.

Yes, the Music Lab has generated revenue and continues to connect Radio Milwaukee with funding partners that it did not previously have relationships with, specifically institutional funders. In 2018, $40,000 from three funders; in 2019, $50,300 from five funders; and in 2020, $61,000 and counting, from six funders (four of which are new to Radio Milwaukee)

While still a relatively new program, started in 2016, we are beginning to see the ripple effects of the program; Grace Weber’s Music Lab: - Offers free master classes and workshops to Milwaukee youth with nationally known artists; - Motivates students to be themselves, build confidence and nurture their unique talents; - Shows young people various career opportunities in the music and entertainment industries; - Builds bridges between students from different backgrounds and high schools; to date over 43 Milwaukee area high schools have been represented; - Builds relationships extending across communities between young people that would otherwise not meet, connect or collaborate; - Creates exciting opportunities for local students to: strengthen their own work while collaborating with other young artists; deepen their personal appreciation of and exposure to diverse music and entertainment industries; nourish creative and professional potential of emerging Milwaukee area artists; and match participants with resources and opportunities to facilitate their own career development. - Specifically during COVID-19, as many schools will remain virtual and physical distancing remains the norm, the continuation of the Music Lab provides a place for release, socialization, connection and creativity. Through virtual programming we’ve had over 900 attendees! Participant quotes illustrating impact: “This place was magical. You could feel it in the air. I could touch it, you know?” "I felt like I was going to cry. This made me know that music is what I should do, that I have a purpose. This is the best day ever.” “Being able to perform a poem I created for an audience for the first time was extremely life changing for me. The feeling of having my message heard and accepted by the audience is a beautiful feeling that I only dreamed about, but Grace and her team turned it into a reality.”