The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that is primarily funded through grants from foundations and donations from individuals and corporations. Additional revenue is obtained through sponsorships of its events and activities, and from earned income — payments for providing services such as fact-checking, collaborating with students or producing investigative journalism projects.
More than 850 individuals, foundations, news organizations and other groups have contributed financially to the Center since its launch in 2009.
As a matter of policy, funders exercise no control over the Center’s editorial decisions, and all funders are publicly identified.
The Center’s first major grant, a gift of $100,000 in general support, was awarded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 2009.
The Oklahoma-based foundation continued to support the Center with grants of $100,000 in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; $75,000 in 2016; $50,000 in 2017 and 2018.
In 2010, the Center received a two-year $75,000 matching grant from Challenge Fund for Journalism VI, a joint program of the Ford Foundation in New York, the McCormick Foundation in Illinois and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The Center successfully completed a campaign to raise those matching funds in 2011.
The Foundation to Promote Open Society, which works in cooperation with the Open Society Foundations in New York City, awarded the Center general support totaling $50,000 in 2009, $100,000 in 2010 (to be spread over two years), $35,000 in 2011, $350,000 in 2012 (to be spread over two years), $350,000 in 2014 (over two years) and $200,000 in 2016.
In 2011, the Center announced a partnership with MAPLight.org to investigate the influence of money in Wisconsin state politics and policymaking. The project was supported by the Open Society Institute. The Center received about $25,000 for this project in 2011 and a similar amount in the first half of 2012.
In 2013, The Joyce Foundation became a major supporter of the Center. The Chicago-based foundation awarded a $100,000 grant that was split by the Center and MinnPost, a nonprofit news organization, to support in-depth coverage of key issues in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The grant funded coverage of political reform, environmental protection and gun violence issues in Wisconsin, as well as political reform in Minnesota. In 2014, Joyce awarded the Center $50,000 to support coverage of democracy, the environment and gun violence prevention. That was followed by a two-year grant in 2016, awarding $50,000 annually to support coverage of democracy, the environment and gun violence prevention. In 2018, The Joyce Foundation awarded the Center a two-year grant of $100,000 a year. In 2020, the foundation awarded the Center a two-year general support grant of $150,000 a year.
The Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times in Madison, is a major supporter of the Center. The foundation made contributions to WCIJ in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and in 2013, significantly increased its support to $20,000 — the largest single contribution received from a Wisconsin donor. Evjue repeated its $20,000 support in 2014 and 2015, and increased its giving to $30,000 in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. It contributed $10,000 in 2020.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, became a major donor in 2014 with a $75,000 general operating grant (spread over two years). In December 2016, the foundation designated the Center as one of 57 nonprofit news organizations eligible for up to $25,000 in matching funds through its NewsMatch program. As 2017 began, the Center successfully completed the match, thanks to 168 donors.
At the end of 2017, the Center was awarded $28,000 from NewsMatch, now funded by an expanded number of donors, for meeting the program’s fundraising goals, and in 2018, the Center was awarded $27,000 from NewsMatch. The Center successfully attained its 2019 NewsMatch goal and also was selected to receive an additional $10,000 from REI Co-op.
In 2014, the Center and UW-Madison journalism school obtained a $35,000 grant that was among the inaugural awards at 12 universities under the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, created to encourage experimentation in ways to provide news and information. The competitive program was managed by the Online News Association and funded by the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation.
In 2015, the Vital Projects Fund, based in New York City, became a major supporter, contributing $25,000 to support the Center’s coverage of criminal justice issues. It provided $20,000 in 2016, $15,000 in 2017 and $20,000 in 2019.
The Reva & David Logan Foundation, based in Chicago, became a major supporter of the Center in 2017 with a general support grant of $100,000. The foundation awarded the Center $125,000 grants in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the foundation awarded the Center a three-year grant of $150,000 a year.
The Center also is grateful for support it received from the Peters Family Foundation in Utah in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019; the Wisconsin State Journal in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014; and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and its related foundation, which provided $10,000 in 2014 and 2015, $14,000 in 2016, $20,000 in 2017, and $5,000 in 2019 and 2020.
In 2016, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication received a grant from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment to establish a class in fact-checking and to create The Observatory website to publish fact-checked reports and information about fact-checking. The Center, in turn, received a contract of $15,000 in the first year and $10,000 in the second to develop and launch the website and assist in fact-checking, editing and distribution of content. The Center is training students and raising the supply of high-quality verified journalism.
In 2017, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication received a three-year grant totaling $120,000 from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment to collaborate with the Center on production of investigative reports by students that are published on the Center’s website and distributed to media partners across the state and nation. The Center was paid through a contract.
In 2019, Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, founders of Arnold Ventures, became major supporters of the Center, with a $100,000 gift of general operating support. They also provided a gift of $100,000 in 2020.
In 2019, the Lau and Bea Christensen Charitable Foundation donated $10,000 to support the Center.
In 2019, Mary and Ken Rouse donated $50,000 to the Center from the estate of their friend, Roger “Whitey” Bruesewitz.
In 2019, Susan Troller Cosgrove and her husband, Howard Cosgrove, established a fund in memory of her mother, Dorothy Mae Johnson Troller, a 1949 UW-Madison journalism graduate, to support the work of journalism students at the Center. They are contributing $10,000 a year in the first phase of the fund.
In 2019, the Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation awarded the Center a gift of $35,000 a year for three years to support fact-checking and other efforts to strengthen the integrity of journalism.
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman became a major supporter of the Center in 2019 with a $100,000 gift of general operating support.
Members of the Center’s Board of Directors, who serve as volunteers, are financial supporters of the organization.
The Center has received revenue for producing reports and conducting interviews through arrangements with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.; WBEZ Public Media in Chicago; American University’s J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism; Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting; Sarah Colt Productions in New York City; HuffPost; and NPR.
In 2017, the Center launched the Watchdog Club to enrich members’ experience with investigative journalism, and to involve these loyal members in efforts to transform the Center into a larger, more financially resilient organization. These members donate $1,000 or more a year per household.
In 2019, the Center created the Leadership Circle, a group of Watchdog Club members taking a leadership role in sustaining investigative reporting and the training of investigative journalists. These members donated $5,000 or more in 2019:
Laura and John Arnold
Lau and Bea Christensen Charitable Foundation
Susan Troller Cosgrove and Howard Cosgrove
Wendy Fearnside and Bruce Meier
Andy and Dee J. Hall
Larry Hands and Karen Kendrick-Hands
Phil and Tricia Hands
Sally Mead Hands Foundation
Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation
Reva and David Logan Foundation
David and Marion Meissner
Peters Family Foundation
Mary and Ken Rouse
In 2019 and 2020, the Center received subsidies (50% in year one, 33% in year two) to support the salary of a Report for America journalist who is producing an investigative podcast on police and prosecutorial misconduct in Wisconsin.
In 2019 and 2020, the Center received a total of $234,000 from the Google News Initiative to support the launch of News414, a collaborative project of the Center, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. News414 engages residents of underserved Milwaukee neighborhoods, responds to information requests via text message, investigates residents’ most pressing needs and delivers accountability journalism.
In 2019 and 2020, the Center received $100,000 grants from the Facebook Membership Accelerator, to support its development of a membership program and improvements to its digital infrastructure. The Lenfest Institute collaborated in the grantmaking.
In 2020, the Center received $8,500 from the Walton Family Foundation for its role in a collaborative reporting project on rural education during the pandemic. Six other newsrooms participated in the project, with assistance from the Institute for Nonprofit News.
In 2020, the Center received a $93,581 forgivable loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program to support its operations through the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
In 2020, the Center received $20,000 from First Draft to support the work of Howard Hardee, one of First Draft’s fellows reporting on misinformation and disinformation in the 2020 election.
In 2020, Craig Newmark Philanthropies provided a $70,000 grant to the Center for its role in the Election Integrity Project to safeguard the voices of voters. The Center collaborated with the UW-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics, which also received grant money, to produce tools for the public and journalists to discern what’s credible, and what’s not.
In 2020, ProPublica’s Electionland project provided a 25% subsidy of a Center reporter’s salary to support coverage of voting issues.
In 2020, the Center received $51,000 from Votebeat, a nonprofit newsroom covering local election administration and voting in eight states, created by Chalkbeat. The Center works with two reporters and an editor on stories focusing on Wisconsin elections and voting.
Our financial supporters
(Updated November 2020)
|A to Z Produce and Bakery|
|Lisa Aarli and Gail Owens|
|Abbotsford Tribune Phonograph|
|Linda and James Adams|
|Lynn and Dr. Tom Ansfield|
|Appleton Post-Crescent Community Fund|
|Laura and John Arnold|
|Adam Balin and Karin Mahony|
|Bastian Family Foundation|
|Frank W. Bastian|
|Chuck Bauer and Charles Beckwith|
|Mary Kay Baum|
|Herman Baumann and Kay Schwichtenberg|
|Keith and Juli Baumgartner|
|Beaver Dam Daily Citizen|
|Joseph and Josefina Beck|
|Tom and Katherine Bier|
|Blue Valley Farms|
|Elizabeth Brenner and Steve Ostrofsky|
|Malcolm and Penny Brett|
|Aimee and Karl Broman|
|Sandra Kay and James Brooks|
|Brian and Margaret Bull|
|Jim and Catherine Burgess|
|Linda and Edward Calhan|
|Tom and Patti Cameron|
|Marsha and Peter Cannon|
|Denis Carey and Carol Koby Carey|
|Duncan Carlsmith Carlsmith|
|Dick and Kim Cates|
|Ned Cochrane and Bonnie Cox|
|Marcus and Sheila Cohen|
|Joanne and Jim Collins|
|Craig Newmark Philanthropies|
|Nora Cusack and Brent Nicastro|
|Betty and Corkey Custer|
|James Danky and Christine Schelshorn|
|Brian A. Davis and Deborah M. Umstead|
|Dead Bird Brewing Co.|
|Claire and Chris DeRosa|
|Robert and Lynn Drechsel|
|Robert Dreps and Elizabeth Koehl|
|William and Gretchen Dresen|
|Thomas and Andy Dukehart|
|Sharon Dunwoody and Stephen Glass|
|Karen and Anthony Eclavea|
|Jennifer and John Edmondson|
|Lynne and Bill Eich|
|El Grito Taqueria|
|Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation|
|Mark and Sara Eversden|
|Facebook Journalism Project|
|Facebook Membership Accelerator|
|Kristeen and Todd Fansler|
|Michael and Gloria Fauerbach|
|Robert and Marianne Fazen|
|Wendy Fearnside and Bruce Meier|
|Paul and Sarah Ferguson|
|Dorothy Ann Flood-Smith|
|David Freedman and Harriet Kohn|
|Lewis Friedland and Stacey Oliker|
|Lauren and Eric Fuhrmann|
|Fund for Environmental Journalism|
|Fund for Investigative Journalism|
|Peter Gascoyne and Claudia English|
|Sharon and Warren Gaskill|
|Frank S. Gattolin|
|Janet and Derrick Gee|
|Maureen A Gerarden|
|Neil and Cindy Gleason|
|Christopher and Erin Glueck|
|Richard Goldberg and Lisa Munro|
|Dr. Lawrence and Hannah Goodman|
|Google News Initiative|
|Linda Gorens-Levey and Michael Levey|
|Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Nickel Fund|
|Jessica and Brad Green|
|Peter and Barbara Grenier|
|Megan Hagenauer and John Basler|
|George and Mary Ellen Hagenauer|
|Robert and Elke Hagge|
|Joseph Hall and Judy Thomas-Hall|
|Andrew and Dee J. Hall|
|Henry and Mary Ann Halsted|
|John Lawrence Hands and Karen Kendrick-Hands|
|Phil and Tricia Hands|
|Dr. Philip and Janet Hasler|
|Wendy and Shaun Hathaway|
|Neil Heinen and Nancy Christy|
|Heidi and Scott Herron|
|Susan and Leslie Hoffman|
|Julie Horn Alexander|
|Diana and Kermit Hovey|
|Leslie Ann Howard|
|Sue Kelley Hudson|
|Institute for Nonprofit News|
|Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment|
|Mike Ivey and Vicki Elkin|
|Forrest and Margaret Jafuta|
|Vince Jenkins and Stefanie Moritz|
|John K. MacIver Institute|
|John S. and James L. Knight Foundation|
|Paul and Diana Johnson|
|Judy and Gary Jolin|
|Margaret Jones and David Linton|
|Yvette Jones and John Lombardo|
|Patricia and Edward Jones|
|William M and Claudia Kaiser|
|Karon Medical Writing, LLC|
|Rita and Tim Kehl|
|George M Killenberg|
|Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at The Miami Foundation|
|Dennis Koi’s Sr.|
|James Kramer and Shoko Miyagi|
|William Kraus and Toni Sikes|
|Marilyn and Lawrence Krause|
|Todd M. Kursel|
|Kathleen Lapp James|
|Lau and Bea Christensen Charitable Foundation|
|Janet and Douglas Laube|
|Dr’s Douglas and Martha Lee|
|Sheryl and Roger Lepage|
|Donna and Scott Lewein|
|Charles Lewis and Pam Gilbert|
|Karen Lincoln Michel and Roberto Michel|
|David J and Madeleine Lubar|
|Mary and Timothy Lyke|
|Steve and Susan Macejkovic|
|Mary Lee Maki|
|Linda and David Maraniss|
|Daniel and Linda Marquardt|
|James Marrari and Barbara Carstens|
|Stuart and Carol Martell|
|Anita J. and James Martin|
|Kathleen Massoth and Marshall Bruce Edmonson|
|Shirley Brabender Mattox|
|McGillivray Westerberg & Bender LLC|
|Karen McKim and Keith Nelson|
|Oma Vic McMurray|
|Brent McNabb and David Macleod|
|Howard and Nancy Mead|
|David and Marion Meissner|
|Linda and John Mellowes|
|Janet Mertz and Jonathan Kane|
|Michael and Susan Michaelis|
|Mark Todd Milbourn and Lisa Heyamoto|
|Sally and Charles Miley|
|Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|Mary Miron and Gene Summers|
|Jack and Bonnie Mitchell|
|Doug Moe and Jeanan Yasiri Moe|
|Michaela and Greg Moy|
|Mary Joan Nastri|
|Elizabeth Neary and William Bula|
|Henry and Barbara Nehls-Lowe|
|Herb Nelson and Meg Theno|
|Mary Kae Nelson|
|Judy Newman Coburn|
|Kara and Ryan O’Connor|
|Vince O’Hern and Linda Baldwin|
|Open Society Foundations (Foundation to Promote Open Society)|
|Cathie and Harvey Ovshinsky|
|Tara and Carlos Pabellon|
|Susan S. Pastin|
|Mark and Catherine Pearce|
|Richard and Merry Noel Pearson|
|Susan Peters and Jim Cricchi|
|Peters Family Foundation|
|Pines Bach LLP|
|Mark Pitsch and Mary Kemp|
|Lynn and Martin Preizler|
|Richard and Krista Ralston|
|Judith Ranney and Robert Latchaw|
|Nancy H. and Roger Rathke|
|Cathleen A Razner|
|Don and Carol Reeder|
|Report for America|
|Reva & David Logan Foundation|
|Joanne and Gus Ricca|
|John and Julie Rice|
|Richard Thomas Record Living Trust|
|Hilda J Richey|
|Terry Rindfleisch and Linda Hirsh|
|Rita Allen Foundation|
|Robert R. McCormick Foundation|
|Michele and James Rohan|
|Mary and Ken Rouse|
|Finn Ryan and Brynn Bemis|
|Marjorie Sable and George Smith|
|Sally Mead Hands Foundation|
|Mary Sanford and Adrian Bourque|
|Barbara and Donald Sanford|
|Jenny and Louis Sanner|
|Irene Schapiro and Norman Fost|
|Schott, Bublitz & Engel s.c.|
|Ellen Seuferer and Richard Tatman|
|Caryl and Dr. Robert Sewell|
|Hemant and Elizabeth Shah|
|Michael Shank and Carol Troyer-Shank|
|Gail and Dan Shea|
|PJ and Jana Slinger|
|Richard Smith and Pat McKearn|
|W. Jeffrey Smoller|
|Norma and Elliott Sober|
|Brook and Nelson Soltvedt|
|Mary Spicuzza and Dan Simmons|
|Marianne and Brandon Spoon|
|Sharon Stark and Peter Livingston|
|Victoria and Patrick Sweeney|
|Charles and Victoria Talbert|
|Kent Tempus and Denise Sheedy-Tempus|
|Carol and John Toussaint|
|Tribune Phonograph TP Printing|
|Susan Troller Cosgrove and Howard Cosgrove|
|Dee Van Ruyven|
|Reinout Van Wagtendonk|
|Vantage Point luncheon series|
|Vital Projects Fund|
|Tom Warren and Anna Marie Benander Warren|
|We The People|
|Ralph and Patricia Weber|
|Roger and Kristi Williams|
|Brady and Lynn Williamson|
|Wisconsin Broadcasters Association|
|Wisconsin Newspaper Association|
|Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation|
|Wisconsin Public Radio|
|Wisconsin State Journal|
|Dean and Nettie Witter|
|Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation|
|Cynthia Yomantas and Steven Bauman|
|James W and Susan Zerwick|