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Sustainability Lab for Digital-First Newsrooms

This round of YouTube’s Sustainability Lab focuses on helping digital-first news organizations unlock their next level of growth and build sustainable business models. Participants will receive a grant to strengthen their digital video capabilities for the long term, dedicated support from YouTube specialists, and the opportunity to learn from other organizations in the program.

Applications are closed. If your country is experiencing a COVID surge and you would like to request an extension, please email our team at youtube-digitalfirst-newsrooms@google.com

Program Overview

This program enables news organizations to invest meaningfully in capacity-building initiatives to set themselves up for long-term financial success and sustainability in digital video news by providing:

  • Grants: Selected news organizations will receive up to $200,000 USD to invest in capacity-building for digital video
  • Workshops: Selected news organizations will participate in group workshops facilitated by YouTube to learn from peers around the world
  • YouTube specialist support: Selected news organizations will receive one-on-one coaching and support from a YouTube specialist. These specialists are located around the world and have extensive experience working with media organizations and creators to build their audiences and businesses on YouTube

At the conclusion of the program, selected news organizations will partner with YouTube to develop publicly available case studies and best practice playbooks from their projects, enabling the wider news community to learn from the program.

Timeline

  • Application period: May 2021
  • Selection & Interviews: June 2021
  • Program kickoff: July 2021
  • Program conclusion: June 2022

Project Requirements

Projects should focus on capacity-building efforts and/or invest in critical infrastructure that will enable a successful and self-sustaining video business. Applicants should articulate their long-term vision and business plan for their video news operation and highlight how their project will advance this vision.

Example projects should be about capacity building and could include, but are not limited to:

  • Building a new digital video studio
  • Training existing editorial staff on lightweight video production
  • Improving or updating tools or systems that streamline a digital video operation
  • Launching a new revenue model (e.g., memberships, contributions)

For more ideas, please see case studies here.

Projects need to be delivered within one year, but should have key performance indicators showing the long-term business impact of the project. Projects focusing on short-term content creation will not be considered.

Participant Expectations

Selected news organizations will be expected to:

  • Execute their project: Selected news organizations will be responsible for executing on their proposal. Organizations are expected to complete their projects within one year and reach all milestones outlined in the proposal in a timely way.
  • Engage with their YouTube specialists: Selected news organizations are expected to meet regularly with their YouTube specialist. YouTube specialists will work with selected news organizations on formal status tracking for each project at least quarterly, but are available for hands-on, one-on-one support throughout the year.
  • Scale learnings through case studies: Selected news organizations must contribute to case studies and playbooks. Organizations must share examples from their projects with YouTube for use in publicly available resources to allow other newsrooms to learn from their project.

Grants

YouTube will fund up to $200,000 to selected projects. As part of the application process, organizations are expected to detail costs for their projects; this can include in-kind expenditure (for example, people assigned to the project) as part of their budget.

Eligible expenses include engineering and operations costs (e.g. product development, project management, user experience design, database build and maintenance, and hosting), the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project and marketing expenses.

Editorial expenses are not eligible and will not be covered. Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs. Additionally, funding may not be spent on YouTube paid marketing. Please note that the effective date for the project will be the date that the funding agreement is signed by all parties. No expenses incurred before this date can be covered by the funding.

Application & Selection Process

There will be one window to submit applications, which will close May 31, 2021 23:59 PT. All applicants must accept the GNI YouTube Sustainability Lab Proposal Terms and Conditions at the end of the application.

Finalists may be asked to interview with the YouTube and Google teams.

Selected participants will be notified no later than June 30, 2021 23:59 PT. Applicants will not receive feedback on their proposals.

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Impact on long-term sustainability of digital video for selected organization: Preferred projects should represent a critical investment that advances a clearly articulated, sustainable business plan for video news. While the program lasts only 12 months, the impact of the project should extend far beyond the duration of the program and enable the organization to build core capabilities.
  • Scalability: Beyond driving meaningful impact for the selected organization, preferred projects will be widely applicable to the broader news industry and scalable to other digital-first newsrooms. The learnings generated from the project should have the potential to be adopted by peer newsrooms around the world.

Eligibility

This round of the Sustainability Lab is focused on supporting small, digital-first news organizations that produce high-quality, original reporting. Organizations that meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:

  • Fewer than 20 journalists on staff
  • In operation for 10 years or less
  • Running an existing website or YouTube channel with a proven audience
  • Generating recurring revenue
  • Not funded by the government or government officials
  • Not owned or operated by family or friends of Google employees
  • Be based in one of the following countries:
    • Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
    • North America: Canada, United States
    • Europe, Middle East & Africa: Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom
    • Asia Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand.

Organizations that are led by individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in journalism as well as organizations that aim to elevate underrepresented audiences and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within their journalism are strongly encouraged to apply.

SSS

Why is YouTube launching the Sustainability Lab for digital-first newsrooms? Answer

The Sustainability Lab for digital-first newsrooms is part of YouTube’s commitment to supporting a thriving digital news ecosystem. The goal is to support digital-first newsrooms to grow sustainable video news businesses

Does this program include a content requirement? Answer

No. The Sustainability Lab is designed to support capacity-building projects, not specific pieces of content.

Are start-up organizations eligible? Answer

Participant organizations must already exist at the time of program announcement and meet all other relevant criteria to be eligible, including having a proven audience and recurring revenue streams.

Do I need to have a YouTube channel to apply? Answer

Organizations must have a proven audience, either on YouTube, on their own websites, or on other platforms.

Is there a maximum number of applications per applicant? Answer

Each organization may submit a maximum of 1 application. Application to this program round does not prevent you from making an application to any future rounds or funding programs.

If my application is selected, will I be required to enter a formal agreement with YouTube? Answer

Yes, selection is conditional on organizations entering into an agreement with YouTube.

Will participants be required to share insights from the program with the wider news community? Answer

Yes, participants should be willing to showcase learnings that result from the program, including contributing to public case studies to be shared with the wider news community.

Will the YouTube team ask for additional information beyond the application? Answer

Finalists may be asked to participate in an interview. We also may ask that you provide further supporting documentation. If you are unable to comply with such requests within the reasonable time frame requested by Google, your application will be rejected.

Projeler nasıl seçilir? Answer

Eligible applicants will move to a selection round where the strongest proposals will be shortlisted. The selection round will be conducted by a team composed of YouTube and Google employees with expertise in news and the local countries. Finalists may then be asked to participate in an interview. Final selection of proposals and funding is at Google/YouTube’s sole and absolute discretion. We do not guarantee that any proposal will be successful.

If my proposal is not selected, will I receive feedback with details of why? Answer

Due to the high volume of applications expected, YouTube is unable to provide personalized feedback on each proposal.