2024 LION Sustainability Awards finalists revealed

Join us in Chicago at the LION Awards Ceremony & Dinner to celebrate our finalists and winners.

July 10, 2024 by Hayley Milloy and Samantha Matsumoto

Website graphics ~ March 2024 (4)

LION Publishers is excited to announce that 56 entries from a total of 40 organizations have been recognized as finalists for the 2024 LION Sustainability Awards.

This year, we rebranded our sixth annual awards from the LION Local Journalism Awards to the LION Sustainability Awards. That’s because, at the LION Awards, we don’t just celebrate outstanding local journalism; we celebrate sustainable journalism built to last longer than one story or impactful series.

What do we mean by sustainable journalism? Here at LION, we believe sustainability lies at the intersection of three pillars: journalistic impact, financial health, and operational resilience. And the 200 award entries we received included some of the strongest examples of these pillars we’ve seen to date.

Scroll to read snippets of each finalist’s inspiring work across eight award categories. In addition to these eight, we’ll recognize two more members through the Transformational Impact Award and LION Member of the Year Award.

Winners will be announced live, in person, at the LION Awards Ceremony & Dinner on Thursday, September 5, in Chicago, Illinois, during LION’s Independent News Sustainability Summit on September 5-7, 2024. You can purchase tickets here.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, LION will distribute at least $59,500 in cash prizes to award winners, and each winning entry will receive at least $2,500.

The awards ceremony, dinner, and cash prizes are made possible by these sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Gold Sponsor 

Carol Oppenheim and Jerome S Lamet Charitable Fund

Bronze Sponsors

Indiegraf
Joyce Foundation
MacArthur Foundation
Reynolds Journalism Institute

Community Sponsors

Ballotpedia
BlueLena
Lede AI
McCormick Foundation
Newspack
News Revenue Hub

If you’re interested in sponsoring the Summit and LION Awards, please email [email protected] for more details about the packages and sponsor benefits.

Here are the finalists:

Finalists were selected by an independent panel of judges. Finalist descriptions were self-reported and slightly edited by LION staff for length and clarity. Finalists are listed in alphabetical order. You can click on each category below to scroll to that section.

LION Business of the Year
New LION Business of the Year
Operational Resilience Award
Financial Health Award
Journalistic Impact Award
Community Engagement Award
Collaboration of the Year
Product of the Year

LION Business of the Year

Recognizes a LION member that has made significant progress toward achieving sustainability through strengthening its operational resilience, financial health, and journalistic impact.

Micro/Small Revenue Tier

Less than $500,000 in annual revenue

CivicLex

CivicLex is a nonprofit organization that strengthens the civic health of Lexington-Fayette County, KY. In response to years of rapid growth, they hosted a series of staff retreats to reorient their operations, revenue, and impact strategy to their new scope. They invested in new staff wellness policies, grew two revenue streams that will bring in almost one-third of this year’s budget, and built a new organizational impact framework. Their work has led to changes to city meetings, the creation of new local government positions, changes to their public school district’s social studies curriculum, and more.

Excelsior Citizen

In 2023, the Excelsior Citizen made significant progress toward sustainability by building a solid team, achieving financial growth, and fostering impactful community engagement. They implemented an operational handbook, boosted revenue by 220 percent, and helped secure over $24 million in grant funding for their Excelsior Springs, MO community through their reporting.

Red Bank Green

Launched in 2006, Red Bank Green was run solo by its founder for 17 years. In 2023, they hired their first full-time reporter, rebuilt their business model, and documented their most important internal processes — putting them on the path to growing their revenue by 200 percent. Their focus on operational resilience and financial health has set them up to continue shining the light on Red Bank, NJ, this year and beyond — perhaps for 100 years, their stated vision.

Medium/Large Revenue Tier

More than $500,000 in annual revenue

Block Club Chicago

Over the past 12 months, Block Club Chicago has made substantial, deliberate investments in their long-term financial and editorial sustainability. Since 2023, they have more than doubled the headcount of their revenue team, built departments around their primary revenue streams, and established investigative and Arts & Culture teams with full-time editors and reporters. These moves aligned with a company-wide philosophical shift prompted by the realization that they had quietly outgrown the scrappy, all-hands-on-deck ethos that propelled them from their 2018 launch.

New York Focus 

In 2023, New York Focus demonstrated transformative growth and made significant strategic investments. Their development of a major donor fundraising strategy and small-dollar membership program has resulted in substantial financial gains. Their first non-editorial hires, including a development offer and an audience engagement editor, have doubled their audience size and alleviated the workload on editorial staff. They also produced steady, high-impact investigations that shaped criminal justice and climate policy.

The Appeal

The Appeal’s reporting has spurred legislation, state and federal investigations, community action, and improved prison conditions. In 2023, 27 percent of their work was produced by incarcerated writers. They secured their first major donor and two new foundation grants and successfully launched a third reader revenue campaign. They also created their first employee handbook, introduced paid parental leave, adapted editorial goals to better accommodate regular time off, introduced Documentation Days, and built Slackbots to streamline production tasks.


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New LION Business of the Year

Recognizes a LION member — founded after January 1, 2023 — that exhibits, even in its very early stages, a clearly defined commitment to working toward achieving sustainability through operational resilience, financial health, and journalistic impact.

The Coronado News 

Since launching in January 2023, The Coronado News has committed to high-quality journalism, reporting on city government, schools, businesses, and community news. Their reporters investigated a cross-border sewage crisis between the U.S. and Mexico, leading public officials to press for increased federal funding for a problem that has existed since the Great Depression. The Coronado News’ annual revenue in 2023 was $225,000.

The Investigative Journalism Foundation

The Investigative Journalism Foundation combines original investigative reporting with the publication of public interest databases on topics like political donations and lobbying. During their first year, they published more than 150 stories for their audience of 1,600 subscribers and more than 250,000 readers. Their annual revenue in 2023 was more than $1 million.

The Pulp

The Pulp’s clearly defined startup strategy gave them the vision and runway to launch successful fundraising campaigns, build a supportive newsroom culture, and produce well-written and interesting content. They aimed to secure 15 “founders” committing $12,000 over the first year. Then, immediately after launching, they raised another $40,000 from readers in two weeks. They are now launching a business membership program. In 2023, their annual revenue was $180,000.


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Operational Resilience Award

Recognizes a LION member that has made significant progress toward strengthening its operational resilience by establishing processes, policies, and a people-centered company culture designed to support staff, manage growth, and promote sustainability.

Small Revenue Tier

Between $50,000 and $500,000 in annual revenue (there were no finalists in the Micro Revenue Tier)

2PuntosPlatform

2PuntosPlatform underwent transformative changes this last year, enhancing its operations, work culture, and workflows. They revamped job roles, raised stipends, and introduced new collaboration processes. They also held their first in-person team summit, adopted new digital tooling, and allocated more equipment for their team. Importantly, 2Puntos transitioned from an LLC to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, established a board of directors, and began working with an accountant and bookkeeper.

CivicLex

Last year, CivicLex focused on finding ways to support their staff and be more efficient. They remade existing job descriptions to match staff’s skill sets and career goals, invested in personal and professional development pools to boost staff career goals and wellness, created an office closure policy guaranteeing all staff four weeks of paid vacation, and targeted burnout with monthly burnout check-ins. They also developed a staggered office policy and new meeting protocols and created an internal wiki to align communications, development, and evaluation across all areas.

Santa Cruz Local

Santa Cruz Local is building a transparent pay system so that employees can predict how compensation will grow as the company grows. The team is also working on a three-year strategic plan — with lots of feedback from staff — to guide their operations and direction. They have honed their approach to develop inclusive and transparent hiring practices, onboarding, and offboarding that demonstrates their people-centered values. In addition, the team is learning how to avoid burnout and build collaborative processes to guide the company’s growth.

Medium / Large Revenue Tier

More than $500,000 in annual revenue

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Culture is at the core of Charlottesville Tomorrow, and building a healthy and resilient workplace has enabled them to grow into their community service mission. This year, they bolstered staff benefits, expanded community and board leadership, and created flexible and fair staff policies. They collaboratively built a team handbook covering their culture, commitment to equity, and how they show up for each other in the workplace.

The Appeal

The Appeal is a national leader in creating and teaching other newsrooms how to build a healthy and effective work environment. They are known for their 32-hour work week, flexible time-off policies, and meeting-free time. In the past 12 months, the team introduced its first staff-approved employee handbook, implemented a paid parental leave policy, and refined its technical processes.

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

MLK50 has doubled their full-time staff since the start of 2023. In order to responsibly steward this growth, they undertook several internal initiatives. MLK50 hired a consultant who outlined key themes, strengths, and weaknesses for them to discuss during their first all-staff retreat. Additionally, they instated quarterly leadership retreats, where they set and tracked their first strategic planning process, prepped for their 2024 leadership transition, and improved team roles and financial management. They’re also revising employee benefits and working on a regular employee survey.


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Financial Health Award

Recognizes a LION member that has made significant progress toward strengthening its financial health by developing a plan for earning money, managing a budget, and/or monitoring revenue and expenses to extend its financial runway. This can also include the development of a successful and creative strategy to grow or diversify revenue while positively impacting their financial health.

Small Revenue Tier

Between $50,000 and $500,000 in annual revenue (there were no finalists in the Micro Revenue Tier)

CivicLex

Last year, CivicLex created a five-year revenue plan to diversify their revenue. They also shifted the focus of two staff positions to work on two of their sustainable, local funding streams. As a result of the focus shifts from this plan, their community engagement consulting revenue in 2024 will be almost 25 percent of their budgeted revenue, and their membership program has grown by over 800 percent. They also have built up a $400,000 operational reserve from $250,000 from the beginning of 2023.

Planet Detroit

This year, Planet Detroit doubled their audience, web traffic, and reader revenue. Their long-term revenue strategy aims to grow and sustain three revenue sources — philanthropy, reader revenue, and Impact Partnerships and sponsorships. In 2023, they attracted more than $283,000 in philanthropic investment and received more than $18,000 from 35 Impact Partners. They are poised for growth and have the strategy and systems to pursue that growth.

Verified News Network (VNN)

In the past year, VNN intensified efforts to fund their news operations without a paywall for low-income, racial minority community members. They expanded revenue streams through media services and a multimedia contract with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, furthering their outreach and funding. VNN grew financially in 2023, ending the year with $150,000 in revenue. Despite generational and systemic trauma affecting audience trust and news consumption habits, VNN remains committed to empowering communities through news information.

Medium / Large Revenue Tier

More than $500,000 in annual revenue

KHOL

Between 2022 and 2023, KHOL’s revenue grew 26 percent. They transferred a sizable portion of additional funds into a high-yield savings account, further investing in the organization’s future health. They also implemented the station’s first strategic plan and hired their first development manager to further support station finances.

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

In 2023, MLK50 hired their first full-time development director and transitioned their chief strategy officer to full-time. Together, they have helped raise more than $2.4 million and improved the organization’s financial management.

Montana Free Press

Montana Free Press implemented various strategies to improve their financial strength, including adopting accounting services for streamlined payroll and budget management, integrating new financial technologies for expense management, and establishing a cash reserve policy. Their annual revenue was more than $1.3 million.


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Journalistic Impact Award

Recognizes a LION member that has consistently produced journalism with meaningful and demonstrable impact in its communities.

Micro Revenue Tier

Less than $50,000 in annual revenue

Conecta Arizona

When Peruvian migrants began arriving in the U.S. via the Arizona-Mexico border, Conecta Arizona received messages from migrants’ concerned relatives. They didn’t have anyone to contact in Arizona, as there was no embassy or consulate to address the needs of established nationals and those needing consular protection. But thanks to Conecta Arizona’s reporting, which amplified these voices and reached the authorities in Peru, the establishment of the General Consulate of Peru in Phoenix, AZ, was approved.

The Journal 425

Deep, diligent reporting by The Journal 425 directly led to the removal of sexual predators from a local high school. The investigation was told through innovative methods of storytelling, including podcasts and social media. This reporting, which would have otherwise gone unreported, has led to the biggest net increase in readers and paid subscribers in the publication’s history.

The Reporting Project

The Reporting Project broke one story after another about the ripple effects of Intel’s $20 billion project to build the world’s largest computer-chip manufacturing campus in Licking County, OH. The community responded with action to hold companies and public officials accountable for following local comprehensive development plans and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Small Revenue Tier

Between $50,000 and $500,000 in annual revenue

Borderless Magazine

Borderless Magazine embarked on a series of months-long, bilingual investigations into Chicago-run shelters housing migrants in inhumane conditions. They spent time cultivating trust among migrants, combing through city documents and public records, and reviewing videos and photos migrants shared with them. Their work attracted international attention, a city investigation into one child’s death at a shelter, and the rallying of millions of dollars to support new arrivals.

Boulder Reporting Lab

Through a months-long investigation, Boulder Reporting Lab revealed dangerous coal ash pollution at Valmont Power Station, sparking community action and demands for accountability. The team also exposed abuse within the Boulder County Coroner’s Office, leading to an official’s resignation and thwarting that official’s re-election. In addition, BRL’s innovative municipal election coverage engaged readers and inspired informed civic participation and financial support for their work.

La Converse

In 2022-2023, Montréal witnessed a surge in gun violence, claiming the lives of numerous teens in impoverished areas. La Converse investigated the root causes and prevention methods through extensive coverage and interviews. Responding to youth’s desire for positive role models, La Converse launched the Hood Heroes project, a series of 15 portraits showcasing locals who have succeeded and reinvested in their neighborhoods. The project received recognition and funding and was featured at Montréal’s Forum against gun violence.

The Haitian Times

Throughout 2023, The Haitian Times published 21 stories — articles with visual and audio elements — about a $250 million Ponzi scheme that originated in New York City during the pandemic. The scheme spread, ensnaring over 25,000 people worldwide, mostly Haitians, who sought to invest in cryptocurrency. The series included regular reporting from federal court and a 10-part explanatory package. Community members said The Haitian Times’ coverage motivated them to speak out and pursue justice at the local level.

Medium Revenue Tier

Between $500,000 and $1.1 million in annual revenue

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2023 voter guide covered 158 local and state races in Charlottesville and 12 central Virginian counties. In a big election year, the guide often provided the only available independent information about local races in many rural counties. Also, in the last year, the organization’s housing coverage has changed policies, helped improve living conditions, and informed civic engagement.

State Affairs

Over the past two decades, Georgia had disinvested in transporting students to and from school, dropping its share to 17 percent of the total $1.1 billion cost in 2023. State Affairs’ reporting illuminated the crisis during a three-month investigation that required open records requests from the Departments of Education and Public Safety. When Gov. Brian Kemp released his budget proposal in January 2024, he called for doubling the budget for student transportation — adding $205 million for transportation operations, plus $20 million for 227 new buses. That funding was approved by the Legislature in March 2024.

The Appeal

The Appeal’s criminal justice reporting of a police killing in Phoenix led to the formation of two community coalitions and the introduction of two bills that would eliminate felony murder laws. After they had reported on conditions in Georgia jails, both state and federal senators launched investigations. The Appeal’s reporting also led to incarcerated individuals across the country gaining better living conditions, improved healthcare, and even release due to wrongful detention.

Large Revenue Tier

More than $1.1 million in annual revenue

Montana Free Press

In 2023, Montana Free Press conducted a reader survey revealing a strong interest in understanding state tax policy, particularly amidst concerns over property tax assessments. Deputy Editor Eric Dietrich spearheaded an initiative to demystify this complex topic, employing survey data and detailed examples to clarify assessment figures and their implications. His visually engaging guide to Montana property tax policy gained widespread attention, going viral and earning accolades statewide.

Technical.ly

Technical.ly’s “Thriving” project explored economic mobility across American cities. To inform the project, they partnered with community organizations to host focus groups. They published over 50 multilingual articles and a 10-episode podcast, making the content accessible in English, Chinese, and Spanish. The content was broadly disseminated through online platforms, radio broadcasts, and a print magazine, ensuring diverse audience access and fostering informed community and structural dialogues.


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Community Engagement Award

Recognizes a LION member that has achieved general excellence in journalistic impact by demonstrating an intentional and systematized approach to community engagement that consistently tells stories for, with, and by the people they are working to serve.

Micro Revenue Tier

Less than $50,000 in annual revenue

Conecta Arizona

Conecta Arizona’s La Hora del Cafecito initiative engages their audience through daily conversation on WhatsApp. Through WhatsApp, they have engaged in more than 1,200 listening sessions over four years. They’ve also hosted more than 300 experts in direct conversations with the community. Their multiplatform approach, including social media, a weekly radio show, and partnerships with traditional news outlets, ensures widespread access to accurate information.

IMBY 

IMBY, a hyperlocal network for citizen journalism, routinely publishes pieces by community members about environmental, political, and social issues facing their communities. In 2023, they published commentaries from residents fighting high-end housing developments in their neighborhoods, pieces by an artist experiencing anti-semitism in a cultural institution that was about to exhibit his work, and an article addressing misconceptions about a gravel truck hauling road in a small New York city.

Red Bank Green

Faced with a historic change in government charter and a daunting number of candidates to choose from, voters in Red Bank, NJ, needed clear and concise information about their 2023 election. Red Bank Green hosted roundtable community forums with more than a dozen candidates. This coverage provided essential information to the citizens of Red Bank.

Small Revenue Tier

Between $50,000 and $500,000 in annual revenue

9 Millones 

9 Millones designed and implemented a regenerative community outreach pilot that challenges mainstream media’s approach to storytelling and transforms relationship building with communities at the forefront of the climate crisis and colonialism. They partnered with local organizations to publish articles and multimedia and created a model board game as a tool to disseminate information.

CivicLex

In the past year, CivicLex hosted 119 in-person events/workshops that engaged nearly 5,000 residents in learning about crucial civic news. They’ve partnered with their public school system to take this process into the classroom, and they taught 48 classes on local civic news last year. They also launched their first Civic Information Needs Assessment.

Minnesota Women’s Press

In 2023, Minnesota had the highest number of domestic violence homicides since tracking began in 1989. In response, Minnesota Women’s Press partnered with four nonprofit organizations to publish an eight-page discussion guide summarizing their coverage of gender-based violence in the past year. The guide includes reflection questions and action steps for co-hosted statewide conversations.

Medium / Large Revenue Tier

More than $500,000 in annual revenue

BridgeDetroit

BridgeDetroit’s full-time engagement director coordinates all of BridgeDetroit’s outreach and connections with Detroiters, collects and organizes data about their priorities and concerns, and helps reporters and editors place that information at the center of their work. Their engagement efforts include multiple town hall events with residents in collaboration with community organizations, door-to-door canvassing, and partnerships with other organizations.

El Tímpano

For three consecutive Saturdays in October, El Tímpano installed a photo booth at the Oakland Coliseum Swap Meet; dozens of people took portraits, received an instant photo, and collaborated with the El Tímpano team in telling the story of this critical community space.

Enlace Latino NC

Enlace Latino NC’s outreach efforts have bridged crucial gaps in digital access for marginalized communities, especially agricultural workers. In 2023, they conducted in-person surveys across five counties at H2A agricultural work camps. The surveys showed that 58 percent of respondents did not have internet access. Armed with this knowledge, Enlace Latino NC pivoted to offering news in a WhatsApp Community Channel to deliver information straight to people’s phones, timing the messages to coincide with downtime, and ensuring that crucial information reached people when they needed it most.


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Collaboration of the Year

Recognizes a LION member that has successfully formed a short-term or long-term collaboration with at least one other organization to positively affect their journalistic impact, financial health, and/or operational resilience. Entries can include both business-focused and/or editorial-focused collaborations, however the most successful entries will be able to demonstrate a positive impact on more than one of LION’s pillars of sustainability (journalistic impact, financial health, and operational resilience).

Micro / Small Revenue Tier

Less than $500,000 in annual revenue

Altavoz Lab

Altavoz Lab led a multi-newsroom collaborative to report on toxic air pollution in a Texas Latino community. The story was picked up nationally and co-published in English and Spanish by The Texas Tribune, Environmental Health News, palabra, Radio Bilingue, and La Esquina de Texas. The Altavoz Lab Environmental Fellowship started the project with over $7,000 and fundraised an additional $4,000 from Penn America and $4,000 from the Pulitzer Center.

Santa Cruz Local

Santa Cruz Local collaborated with nine organizations in Watsonville, CA, to distribute a free, printed bilingual Election Guide to predominantly Spanish-speaking residents. They partnered with the food bank, the library, the county office of education, a senior meal delivery group, after-school programs, the arts council, and other social service groups. These community partners agreed to deliver their 3,600 printed guides for free, which helped them dramatically increase their reach to an audience that can be difficult to civically engage.

Verified News Network (VNN)

VNN and Osage News, both LION members, partnered after VNN discovered Osage News’s RFP in a LION email. Since August 2023, they’ve collaborated on local events, including a forum discussing Osage history, an Indigenous allyship dinner, and “Killers of the Flower Moon” watch parties. They utilized digital surveys for feedback to advance their collaborative efforts and combined forces on media training and analytics. Osage News helped refine VNN’s consulting capabilities so they can assist more Tribal and Native-owned organizations in the future.

Medium Revenue Tier

Between $500,000 and $1.1 million in annual revenue

BridgeDetroit

BridgeDetroit, a nonprofit newsroom and project of the Center for Michigan, formed a partnership in 2020 with the Detroit Free Press, a legacy media organization owned by Gannett. When reporter Nushrat Rahman’s Report for America position ended, the Free Press didn’t want to lose her. So BridgeDetroit and the Free Press struck a business deal that allowed them to split Rahman’s salary and collaborate on the direction of her beat, which presents some of Detroit’s most persistent problems by centering the most affected people.

Canopy Atlanta

Launched in spring 2023, the Cost of Living Project is an innovative look at the price people pay to live in metro Atlanta. It combines Canopy Atlanta’s community-centered storytelling with Atlanta Civic Circle’s rigorous, solutions-oriented reporting to humanize the impact of the city’s cost of living crisis. Through community engagement, quality journalism, and programming, their project centers on the lived experience of metro Atlantans and connects the dots between housing insecurity, wages, transportation, education, and healthcare.

Large Revenue Tier

More than $1.1 million in annual revenue

CalMatters

Leveraging CalMatters’ access and focus on California policy issues, together with CatchLight Local’s visual storytelling strategy, in July of 2023, they produced a joint exploration of efforts by local health organizations working to bring healthcare to unhoused communities. Following publication, the Center for Medicare & Medi-Cal Services issued a new policy that officially recognizes the street as a legitimate place to deliver reimbursable healthcare services.

PublicSource and NEXTpittsburgh

PublicSource and NEXTpittsburgh partnered to host a town hall forum for the Allegheny County Executive primary election. The debate filled a gap in the media landscape during the primary when candidates were primarily speaking in private forums. It also helped the newsrooms raise over $5,000 and grow audiences across their websites, newsletters, and social media.

Spotlight PA

SpotlightPA partnered with Centre Daily Times on a year-long investigation of Penn State University’s misconduct reporting systems. Their reporting revealed flaws in the reforms implemented after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. As a result of this work, Penn State implemented significant changes; they redesigned their internal misconduct website, pledged greater transparency, published an accountability report, and released misconduct reporting data for the first time in six years.


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Product of the Year

Recognizes a LION member that developed a successful and creative short-term or long-term product to strengthen their journalistic impact, financial health, and/or operational resilience. We use News Product Alliance’s definition of a news product: “A defined article, series, program, or other content created by a news organization to meet the needs of news consumers, membership and subscription programs, and streaming services.”

Micro / Small Revenue Tier

Less than $500,000 in annual revenue

Burlington Buzz

Burlington Buzz created a series of digital-first seasonal guides, supported by local business advertising, highlighting tips, activity ideas, and community happenings relevant to the different seasons. Marketed by the Buzz throughout the season, the guides feature stories, recipes, and tips from readers, Buzz staff, local businesses, and the municipal community. This initiative, co-created with the community, helps Burlington residents live their best lives while supporting the community’s economy and the Buzz’s financial sustainability.

La Esquina TX

La Esquina TX created “Preséntanos Tu Caso” to empower the Spanish-speaking immigrant community to report consumer fraud and seek recourse. Through an online form and dedicated phone line, users can submit complaints about scams, fraudulent businesses, and other consumer issues they have faced. The La Esquina TX team then comprehensively investigates each case, working tirelessly to help victims recover their lost money or connect them with the proper legal authorities. In the past year, the service has facilitated the recovery of nearly $35,000 for readers who fell victim to fraud schemes.

Santa Cruz Local

After conducting 170 user research interviews, Santa Cruz Local launched Noticias Watsonville, a news product for Spanish-speaking audiences. Noticias Watsonville delivers free audio news in Spanish on WhatsApp. They have covered how to access flood recovery money, Watsonville Pride, local maternal health, and more.  As a result, hundreds of residents have learned how to access critical health and economic resources. Since April 2023, Santa Cruz Local has raised about $100,000 in donations and grants to fund the product.

Medium / Large Revenue Tier

More than $500,000 in annual revenue

El Tímpano

El Tímpano’s team created a comprehensive resource guide for the East Bay’s Latino and Mayan immigrants. The Guía de Recursos provides information on where and how to seek help on issues ranging from housing and utility assistance to citizenship classes, legal aid, and health care services. The iterative design process involved robust research, user testing, and stakeholder feedback to ensure the guide directs immigrants to resources that are accessible to them.

Prison Journalism Project

“A Prison Writer’s Guide to Media Writing” is a first-of-its-kind journalism handbook for incarcerated writers. It includes 14 instruction modules, writing from incarcerated writers, a style guide, and a duty of care section with a risk assessment quiz so writers understand their capacity for risk. Incarcerated writers who enroll in the handbook’s course receive college-level instruction and feedback from journalism educators. Ultimately, it is a cornerstone of PJP’s vision to build a pipeline of credible, effective journalists who can report on stories from behind bars in an impactful way that also meets the needs of local and national publications.

The Investigative Journalism Foundation

Launched in March 2024, The Investigative Journalism Foundation’s “Open by Default” database offers public access to over 20,000 internal government documents. This database provides Canadians with direct government visibility and is a product that helps IJF produce hard-hitting, data-driven journalism.


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Special thanks to this year’s volunteer judges, without whom the 2024 LION Sustainability Awards would not be possible: Adam Schweigert, Adriana Lacy, Amanda Zamora, AmyJo Brown, Andy Pergam, Anika Gupta, Ankita M. Kumar, Anne Galloway, Ariel Zirulnick, Ashley Woods Branch, AX Mina, Bene Cipolla, Bill Carey, Brooke Warner, Christopher Brennan, Claire Tran, Cristina Tardaguila, Datejie Green, David Grant, David Chivers, Dylan Smith, Elaine Tassy, Fran Reilly, Gabriel Sama, Graham Watson-Ringo, Gunita Singh, Hanaa’ Tameez, James Breiner, Jennifer Mizgata, Jessica Morrison, John Davidow, Karolle Rabarison, Kate Myers, Katie Mercer, Lee Nacozy, Maria Catalina Colmenares-Wiss, Mark Potts, Max Resnik, Melissa Chowning, Michaux Hood, Nicole Mastrangelo, Richard Brown, Sam Gross, Scott Rosenfield, Shannan Bowen, Stacey Peters, Todd Stauffer, Tom Davidson, Tom Kearney, Tony Stasiek, and Trish Terrell.

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