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Investigative Journalism for Health Equity at the Center for Journalism & Democracy  

Student working at Howard University Symposium

WASHINGTON - The Center for Journalism & Democracy (CJD) at Howard University has won a $4 million award over three years from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to establish innovative academic and applied research programs that will advance health equity journalism at HBCUs.

The Center for Journalism & Democracy aims to build a pipeline of pro-democracy journalists trained in investigative and data reporting. The center’s mission is to strengthen investigative journalism on HBCU campuses and build newsroom pipelines throughout the country. The RWJF Investigative Journalism for Health Equity Project will serve as an anchor for ongoing, signature programming that fosters teaching, research, and reporting on the root causes of racial health disparities in the United States.

“Health disparities continue to characterize Americans’ health, life chances, and life expectancy,” said Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. “Health equity is crucial to a well-functioning democratic society, as structural health inequality undermines Black Americans’ ability to participate fully in the promises of our democracy. The severe and deadly inequities in health outcomes are not innate, but created through public and private policy that our student journalists can expose through investigative reporting.”

The RWJF Investigative Journalism for Health Equity Project will provide general, unrestricted operating support to the Center for Journalism & Democracy. Additionally, the grant will fund the multiple new programmatic activities at Howard University and the center’s HBCU partners. These new programs include the creation of a visiting professorship in health-focused investigative journalism and a multi-year investigative project with an HBCU partner institution on the intersection of reparations and health. Grant funding will also be used to create a new annual data analytics summer institute for emerging and practicing journalists.

“Everyone should have the same opportunity for health and wellbeing in this country,” said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, vice president of communications at RWJF. “Yet that is not the reality for the communities who encounter daily and generational structural barriers to health equity, primarily caused by racism. The Investigative Journalism for Health Equity Project will address these persistent health inequities by shining a light on the systems and structures that make health and wellbeing a reality for some and an impossibility for others. This work will make all of the difference for communities and families striving to live their best and healthiest lives.”

Kali-Ahset Amen, executive director of the Center for Journalism & Democracy, will serve as co-principal investigator with Hannah-Jones. Amen said the institute is designed to strengthen data-driven reporting skills and enhance analysis, narration and visualization of public health and other crises affecting the most vulnerable communities.

About Howard University   

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. 

Media contact: Sholnn Freeman; sholnn.freeman@howard.edu