Capital City Fund For Investigative Journalism

Unlocked: Failing Security at DCPS

Unsecured Doors Put Students At Risk The DCPS second grade teacher knows the work order for the computerized lock on her classroom door was marked “completed.” But she doesn’t trust it. It was complete on the first day of school last year, when it malfunctioned again and locked out her entire class. She had to turn to her fellow teachers for materials. Eventually, she was forced to teach 22 students in a hastily found empty spot in an otherwise crowded school. Over a year and many work orders later, this teacher now resorts to holding the lock open with duct tape to ensure she won’t have to spend yet another day of school locked out of her own classroom. Read the full story at

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These D.C. Police Officers Work So Much Overtime They Out-Earn The Mayor

There’s overtime pay, and then there’s this. A small group of MPD officers works 12-18 hours nearly every day. What’s going on? For D.C. Metropolitan Police Department sergeant Tony Giles, working overtime is a full-time job of its own. In the budget year ending September 30, 2022, Giles billed the city for 2,735 extra work hours, which — on top of a regular 40-hour workweek — is equivalent to working a 13-hour day, every single day, for all 365 days of the year. This harrowing workload was so lucrative that Giles out-earned the highest paid officials in city government in fiscal year 2022. His total compensation was greater than the publicly reported salaries of every other city employee, including the police chief and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Giles, whose base salary was $114,000 that year, ultimately took home $361,000 in total pay. Read and listen to the full story on

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An Ongoing Bribery Investigation Targets a D.C. Police Officer and Could Jeopardize a Criminal Case

The Office of the Inspector General is investigating MPD Officer Todd Cory for his alleged involvement in a bribery and kickback scheme, according to government documents. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Todd Cory testified before a grand jury three times in a single case over the past year, at the behest of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cory was the only officer to testify in that case, according to court filings, and each time, the grand juries returned indictments against Deangelo Lewis on a variety of criminal charges. Lewis was arrested in June of 2022 near Anacostia after he allegedly fled from police in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat that officers believed was stolen. Cory was one of the officers involved in arresting Lewis and gathered evidence against him, court filings show, which resulted in charges against Lewis including illegal possession of a firearm, fleeing from law enforcement, malicious destruction of property, and unauthorized use of a vehicle. But as Lewis’ June trial date approached, Cory’s status as the government’s star witness began to fall. Ten days before the trial was initially scheduled to begin, prosecutors wrote in court papers that they would no longer call Cory as a witness during a pretrial evidentiary hearing or during

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The Hidden Costs of Flooding in D.C.’s Poorest Wards

As climate change takes hold, chronic flooding is not affecting all residents equally. An important piece of environmental justice reporting. Through funding from Spotlight D.C. Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe reported for Hola Cultura on the real impact of flooding in D.C. This story was published in Washington City Paper. Read the full story:

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D.C. Cops Blown Gun Cases Keeps Killers on DC Streets

With an investigation funded by SpotlightDC, Washington City Paper reporters have answered this grisly question: Why are DC streets awash in illegal guns that are used to commit more murders every year? Cops, prosecutors and politicians agree a few violent offenders are committing most of the crime; many remain on the street because DC cops have committed errors or screwed up evidence in making gun arrests so that prosecutions fail and bad actors are back out, armed and dangerous, according to reporting by Mitch Ryals and Alex Koma.

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D.C. Cops Breaking Bad

It took SpotlightDC’s support, FOIA requests and months of digging for Mitch Ryals to expose MPD officers who repeatedly abused their power, physically and verbally harassed lawful residents, yet received scant discipline. “Terrorizing misconduct,” says a Public Defender Service general counsel, and Ryals report the details to back her up. From grabbing hair to breaking jaws, bad cops poisoned the relationships between officers and DC residents – with few consequences. Read the stories below:

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SpotlightDC won the Institute for Nonprofit News Best Investigative Journalism Award. Projects funded by SpotlightDC are Finalists for the Livingston and Gerald Loeb Award and have been nominated for prizes by Institute for Nonprofit News, Alt-Weekly and IRE.


Washington, DC—SpotlightDC: Capital City Fund for Investigative Journalism is the Washington region’s only nonprofit dedicated to funding local investigative news. It launched July 2020 with publication by Washington City Paper of Cuneyt Dil’s investigation of malfeasance in the District’s trash collection system that cost D.C. taxpayers nearly $54 million in the past decade.

“It’s a new day for investigative journalism in the Washington region,” said co-founder Colbert I. “Colby” King, chairman of SpotlightDC’s Board of Directors and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post. “We have a clear mission—to fund the work of reporters whose projects can hold the powerful to account and shed light on matters from misspent government funds to injustices in our legal system to failures in our education and health-care systems.”

SpotlightDC: Capital City Fund for Investigative Journalism is a charitable organization under IRS code 501(c)(3). It took shape in 2019 to raise funds, seek proposals for investigative or explanatory journalism on subjects in the national capital region and award funds to worthy projects by independent journalists or staff writers with news organizations.

“Public interest journalism and watchdog reporting have suffered in recent years—especially when it comes to local matters,” said board member Kojo Nnamdi, host of WAMU’s eponymous daily talk show on the DC region and Friday’s Politics Hour. “The need for deep reporting that exposes wrongdoing is more urgent than ever.”

SpotlightDC funds impactful investigative projects that are published by one of its media partners. They include: WAMU, DCist, NBC4, Washingtonian, Washington Blade, The Washington Informer, Greater Greater Washington, DCLine, Capital Community News, and Washington City Paper.


“The national press corps reports on federal Washington, national and international matters,” said board member Margaret “Peggy” Engel, Executive Director of the Alicia Patterson Foundation. “Who’s watching the District government’s budget as it nears $17 billion? Or pay-to-play politics in the DC Council? Or use of force in the DC police? Or inequities in health care? Those are the projects SpotlightDC hopes to fund.”

Advisory Board members make recommendations about proposals to the Executive Board. The members are Pulitzer Prize-winner and author Katherine Boo; veteran DC reporter and Merrill School Professor Mark Feldstein; Pulitzer Prize finalist Keith Harriston; Mike Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent with Yahoo News; Mark Lee, contributing columnist with the Washington Blade; Charles Lewis, founder of Center for Public Integrity and founder/executive editor for American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop; Stephanie Mencimer, investigative reporter with Mother Jones; Dana Louise Priest, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner at the Washington Post and professor at Merrill School of Journalism; Tom Sherwood, DC reporter for the Washington Post and NBC4, guest analyst for WAMU’s weekly Politics Hour; Cheryl Thompson, investigative correspondent with NPR and president of IRE; Del Weber, enterprise and investigative reporter with the LA Times, and Chris Wilson, director of data journalism with Time.


“We want to encourage reporters to submit projects of important public interest throughout the region,” says co-founder and SpotlightDC President Harry Jaffe. “We are on a mission to revive and promote local investigative reporting when it’s more essential than ever.”

“Join us.”