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Public Engagement funds a wide variety of grantees to create content, cultivate thought leadership, and develop campus programming. We seek to catalyze conversations that inspire awe and wonder because we want to enable people to live lives of meaning and purpose. 

From 2019 to 2023, as part of the Foundation’s commitment to fund 12 Strategic Priorities, the Public Engagement department will support content projects that include video, audio, public events, and print media. In addition, we seek proposals that support the next generation of thought leaders, generate durable courses and programming at leading universities, and highlight the role of virtues like intellectual humility, gratitude, curiosity, and love in solving society’s most pressing problems. 

  1. Video — Our video portfolio supports various projects, from online explainer videos to feature-length documentaries to multi-episode docu-series. We are especially interested in episodic projects with a clear path to distribution but will consider other formats. Successful video proposals articulate a clearly defined audience, explain why the proposed content will resonate with that audience, and show evidence that the project can reach its intended audience through the applicant’s own channels or distribution on another platform. 
  2. Audio — Our audio portfolio primarily supports podcast projects, but we will also consider radio-first proposals. We support interview shows like On Being, narrative shows like Radiolab, and topically focused shows like How God Works. We are looking for three types of applicants. Established shows that garner over 50,000 downloads per episode can request funding to produce mission-aligned episodes or mini-series. Shows with smaller audiences can request support for episodes or mini-series and should especially consider how support from JTF can catalyze growth. On rare occasions, we also support new shows, especially if they can draw from an already existing audience (e.g., a successful YouTube channel or newsletter). 
  3. Print — We are interested in a wide variety of print projects. Our current projects include trade books, magazine journalism, and online articles. We are also open to supporting blogs and newsletters. We are especially interested in print projects that can leverage an existing audience (e.g., regular website visitors or newsletter subscribers). 
  4. Gatherings – Our portfolio supports two types of gathering projects. First, we invest in large events like the World Science Festival. Second, we invest in smaller, highly targeted events that curate content for a select audience. For large events, we are especially interested in projects that will reach an in-person audience and then repurpose event content for digital distribution. For small, targeted events, we are interested in projects that will catalyze conversations among thought leaders (e.g., journalists or ministry leaders). 
  5. Thought Leadership – We are interested in supporting projects that cultivate the next generation of thought leaders. Our current projects, like the Beyond the Ivory Tower writing workshop at Northeastern University, equip experts with the tools to communicate to the public. We are especially interested in supporting projects that offer experts both training and seed funding for public engagement projects. We are also interested in projects that support early-career storytellers. 
  6. Campus – Our campus portfolio supports curricular and co-curricular programs that help undergraduate students cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose and develop intellectual virtues (e.g., humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness). We are especially interested in projects that combine curricular and co-curricular activities on multiple campuses, though we will consider projects that support curricular or co-curricular activities on a single campus. 

In addition to proposals that focus on a particular area, we also welcome and encourage integrative, multi-platform proposals that consider how two or more of these engagement vehicles might work in concert. For example, a feature-length film project that will repurpose content for short-form or audio distribution; or a curriculum development project that will help faculty become thought leaders. 

When applying, please carefully consider the topical focus. For inspiration and guidance on the topical remit of Public Engagement funding, you may want to review the work of some of our grantees like Science and the Big Questions, Closer to Truth, Greater Good Science Center, World Science Festival Big Ideas series, and On Being. 

Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): Peggy Callahan
Grantee(s): The Film Collaborative
Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): Nancy Arnison, Wayne Bornholdt
Grantee(s): Theological Book Network Inc
Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): Robert Wright
Grantee(s): Union Theological Seminary
Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): Jennifer Wiseman, Se Kim
Grantee(s): American Association for the Advancement of Science
Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): Liliana Percy
Grantee(s): Krista Tippett Public Productions
Public Engagement
Project Leader(s): David Hobbet, Rebecca McLaughlin
Grantee(s): Veritas Forum Inc.