Bertha Challenge Fellowship for Activists and Investigative Journalists

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The Bertha Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the sixth Bertha Challenge, an opportunity for activists and investigative journalists to spend a year working on one pressing social justice challenge and to deliver a body of work at the end of the Fellowship year.

Successful applicants receive a non-residential paid fellowship and a project budget to work independently and together to:

  • Investigate the causes of and solutions to the annual Bertha Challenge question.
  • Amplify their findings to a wider targeted audience.
  • Connect with diverse stakeholders for information, support and sustainable impact.

The sixth Bertha Challenge will begin in January 2025 with a focus on farming and the climate crisis. They invite investigative journalists and activists to apply to the Bertha Challenge Fellowship with a project that responds to the following question:

  • How is the interconnectedness between corporate interests and political power in farming contributing to the global climate crisis and what do people and communities do to expose and counter this?
What they offer?
  • At Bertha they know that many activists and investigative journalists are already doing groundbreaking work to investigate and amplify their work and to connect with each other. The Bertha Challenge aims to support this work by providing time to work exclusively on a focused project, the spaces in which to connect with a diverse global cohort of Bertha Fellows and partners, and the resources to develop and deliver tangible products that speak directly to the Challenge question.
  • The Fellowships offer:
    • Income for each Bertha Fellow for one year, not exceeding USD 64,900 and commensurate with the applicant’s current or equivalent salary at the host organization – ideally a media outlet for an investigative journalist and an NGO, community organization or social movement for an activist.
    • A Project Fund of up to USD 10,000 for each Bertha Fellow to produce a culminating product that responds to the question posed by the Bertha Challenge, and that is directed towards a specific audience. This could be a series of articles, videos, podcasts, games or drama productions, for example. Joint activist and journalist applicants will have the option to pool their project funding to produce projects on a larger scale.
    • Access to a Connect Fund of up to USD 5,000 specifically designed to encourage collaboration between Fellows.
    • Regular online discussions on a range of issues from current debates around the Bertha Challenge question to methods of investigation, methods of communicating findings, storytelling, popular education and more.
    • Peer and mentor support in the form of regular virtual check-ins with Bertha staff and a cohort of Bertha Fellows.
    • Network development through the global cohort of Bertha Fellows and exposure to relevant partners within and beyond the Bertha network.
    • A global convening of Bertha Fellows at the start of the Bertha Challenge.
  • The Bertha Challenge will launch in January 2025, with an opening convening scheduled for early in the Fellowship year at one of Bertha’s partnered global retreat spaces, where Bertha Fellows will:
    • Meet other Fellows in the 2025 Bertha Challenge cohort, spend dedicated time getting to know one another and get the opportunity to introduce individual work and perspectives.
    • Find opportunities to refine the design of each Fellow’s project work for the year within a supportive framework.
    • Discuss and frame possibilities for collaboration across the cohort.
    • Debate current developments and responses to the climate crisis.
Why activists and investigative journalists?
  • The Bertha Challenge recognizes that investigative journalists and activists have distinct roles. This Fellowship will offer the opportunity to engage with the complexity of the Bertha Challenge question while strengthening relationships through shared work. Bertha Challenge Fellows will be expected to explore new ways of working collaboratively and outside their traditional silos while maintaining their integrity and autonomy.
  • Investigating and amplifying stories that expose injustice is increasingly achieved by work that cuts across organizations and professions. The scale and complexity of large investigative stories are often too intricate for one investigative journalist or activist, or even one newsroom or social justice movement, to handle alone. The Bertha Challenge provides space for a cohort of mid-career leaders in their fields to develop professionally while creating compelling work on the subject matter. It also aims to fuel debate and solidify networks that will last beyond the one-year project cycle.
Eligibility Criteria
  • Activist Criteria
    • At least five years’ experience working with activists, social movements, grassroots and community organizations, social justice organizations or campaigns.
    • Strong connections to a diverse range of relevant groups in the Fellow’s city, country or region, including with social movements, community organizations, NGOs, academics, journalists, progressive government officials etc.
    • Experience developing organizing tools or popular educational products and materials, for example training courses, publications, pamphlets, films, podcasts, arts, theater productions, etc.
    • Experience using research, media and the law in advocacy.
    • Affiliation to an appropriate host organization to amplify work produced during the Bertha Challenge.
  • Investigative Journalist Criteria
    • Mid-career journalists with at least five years’ experience, a track record and passion for doing investigative journalism
    • Strong interest and experience in producing work on the Bertha Challenge question and a proven ability to work with affected communities, social movements, community organizations, NGO’s, academics, scientists etc. 
    • Investigative journalism and research ability, a comprehensive understanding of the political landscape concerning the subject matter, an understanding of the law(s) and political structures determining policy direction and power
    • An ability to work independently
    • Affiliation to an appropriate host media organization that will publish and amplify work produced during the Bertha Challenge.
Selection Criteria
  • Bertha endeavors to select an inclusive and representative cohort of Bertha Fellows that celebrates diversity.
  • Bertha Fellows will be selected on individual merit but also on their complementary skills to the cohort, their existing and/or proposed networks and prospects for the long-term impact of their work.
  • Applicants may come from and work in any country, but to ensure that this cohort of Bertha Fellows is able to be fully participatory, they require all applicants to be proficient in spoken and written English and able to deliver their final work in English.

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