Capital City Fund For Investigative Journalism

Our Mission

SpotlightDC is an independent, non-profit fund based in Washington, D.C. We raise charitable funds and award grants for groundbreaking, original, fair-minded, investigative and explanatory journalism projects focused on the District of Columbia and its surrounding region. 

We will invest in high-impact, deeply reported projects that shed light on underreported subjects, hold the powerful to account and serve the public interest. We also aim to encourage and cultivate a diverse pool of journalists devoted to covering the national capital region. We will promote their work for maximum impact with a variety of print, broadcast and digital media partners who will publish their work.


We have witnessed an alarming decline of reporting on local matters in the past decade; funding and focus necessary for long term reporting has all but vanished. Meanwhile, DC’s government budget has ballooned to $17.5 billion with scant oversight. Fairfax County, just over the Potomac River — Virginia’s most populous county and the third wealthiest in the U.S. — is virtually uncovered. SpotlightDC will fund projects that focus on the District of Columbia and cover cross-cutting subjects such as crime, health care, transportation, development or corruption within the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region.


SpotlightDC is a platform, rather than a publisher. We will award funds for important journalism that will be published by one of our media partners. They span the region’s principal news outlets, including Washington City Paper, DCist, WAMU, Washingtonian, DCLine, Washington Blade, Greater Greater Washington, Capital Community News and NBC4.

Independent freelance journalists, or reporters affiliated with a news organization, can apply for grants up to $10,000. SpotlightDC’s Advisory Board of experienced, investigative journalists will evaluate proposals and can provide mentorship to journalists. SpotlightDC’s Board of Directors – Denise Rolark Barnes, Margaret “Peggy” Engel, Brian Kelly, Derek Musgrove, Terence Samuel, and Harry Jaffe – is responsible for awarding grants.

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