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 1,200 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; and $50,000 in 2017 and 2018. In 2021, the Inasmuch Foundation, which had consolidated the operations of EEJF, awarded the Center $50,000.
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 and 2021.
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. Knight awarded the Center $20,000 in 2021.
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. The Center also received NewsMatch funding in 2020 and 2021, when Loud Hound Foundation provided an additional $20,000 matching grant.
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. It provided an additional grant of $15,000 in 2021.
The Center also is grateful for support it received from the Peters Family Foundation in Utah every year since 2009; 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, 2020 and 2021.
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 2021, Arnold Ventures provided the Center a two-year general operating grant of $380,000.
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. In 2021, the foundation doubled that annual support, effective in 2022, to $35,000 a year for five years.
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, 2020 and 2021, the Center received subsidies (50% in year one, 33% in year two, 20% in year three) 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. The foundation provided an additional grant of $8,500 in 2021 for support of a collaborative reporting project focusing on education issues.
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.
In 2021, the Center started the Legacy Society — supporters who have included the Center in their estate plans, including wills, trusts, retirement plan distributions, and life insurance to ensure financial stability and a strong future for the Center.
In 2021, the Center received $34,500 from the Philip Merrill College at the University of Maryland to support a Roy W. Howard investigative reporting fellowship.
In 2021, the University of Missouri School of Journalism provided $4,500 to support internships.
The UW-Eau Claire Foundation has provided about $6,000 for each of three Ann Devroy Memorial Fellows who have reported for the Center.
In 2021, the Fund for Investigative Journalism provided $10,000 for support of an investigative reporting project.
In 2021, Wisconsin Watch joined the NEW News Lab (Northeast Wisconsin News Lab), a new collaborative that provides technology support, capacity building and additional funding to boost local journalism and newsrooms. The collaboration includes six news organizations: Wisconsin Watch, WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio), FoxValley365, The Post-Crescent, Green Bay Press-Gazette and The Press Times. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Journalism Department is an educational partner. Microsoft is providing financial support to the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to fund the initiative, one of five pilot projects nationwide that aim to strengthen local news ecosystems and the critical role they play in democracy. The Center received $96,000 in support of its joint reporting projects with WPR in 2021. The work is continuing.
In 2021, the American Journalism Project jointly awarded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS) $1.4 million over three years to support their efforts to reshape the local news ecosystem in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin. The grant is building revenue and operations teams at both nonprofit newsrooms to support the expansion of journalism that represents, informs and engages local communities. It also is strengthening the newsrooms’ close partnership, which includes News414 — a project that uses text messages, social media, events and other tools to provide critical information to underserved audiences.
To demonstrate support for the AJP grant, local donors pledged $723,000 in support over the next one to 10 years. Those donors included the Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation ($350,000), Lau and Bea Christensen ($100,000), Barbara Johnson ($100,000), David and Madeleine Lubar ($50,000), Andy and Dee J. Hall ($50,000), Julilly Kohler ($25,000), Betty and Corkey Custer ($25,000), Ron Smith ($20,000), and Betsy Brenner ($3,000).
Our financial supporters since 2009
(Updated February 2022)
|A to Z Produce and Bakery|
|Abbotsford Tribune Phonograph|
|Adam Balin and Karin Mahony|
|Aimee and Karl Broman|
|Alan Purintun and Jane O’Meara|
|Amy and Russ Hermys|
|Andrew and Dee J. Hall|
|Anita and James Martin|
|Appleton Post-Crescent Community Fund|
|Barbara and Donald Sanford|
|Barbara Melone and Harry Wait|
|Bastian Family Foundation|
|Beaver Dam Daily Citizen|
|Betty and Corkey Custer|
|Blue Valley Farms|
|Bonnie Rock and Jennifer D’Amato|
|Brady and Lynn Williamson|
|Brent McNabb and David Macleod|
|Brian and Margaret Bull|
|Brian Davis and Deborah Umstead|
|Brook Soltvedt and David Nelson|
|Bruce Robert Turnbull|
|Carol and John Toussaint|
|Caryl and Dr. Robert Sewell|
|Catherine Kurek-Ovshinsky and Harvey Ovshinsky|
|Charles and Victoria Talbert|
|Charles Lewis and Pam Gilbert|
|Christopher and Erin Glueck|
|Chuck and Jen Linsenmeyer|
|Chuck Bauer and Charles Beckwith|
|Connie and Raymond Milz|
|Connie and Steve Reddicliffe|
|Courtenay Teska and Luke Pacholski|
|Cynthia Yomantas and Steven Bauman|
|Daniel and Karen Barr|
|Daniel and Linda Marquardt|
|Daniel and Paige Conley|
|David and Madeleine Lubar|
|David and Marion Meissner|
|David Freedman and Harriet Kohn|
|David Umhoefer and Gretchen Schuldt|
|Dead Bird Brewing Co.|
|Dean and Nettie Witter|
|Dee Van Ruyven|
|Denis Carey and Carol Koby Carey|
|Dennis Koi?s Sr.|
|Diana and Kermit Hovey|
|Dick and Kim Cates|
|Dick and Merry Noel Pearson|
|Don and Carol Reeder|
|Donna and Scott Lewein|
|Dorothy Ann Flood-Smith|
|Doug Moe and Jeanan Yasiri Moe|
|Dr. Adel Korkor|
|Dr. Catherine Orr|
|Dr. Elizabeth Neary|
|Dr. Jean Espenshade|
|Dr. Lawrence and Hannah Goodman|
|Dr. Marcus and Sheila Cohen|
|Dr. Philip and Janet Hasler|
|Dr. Thomas and Lynn Ansfield|
|Dr. Wendel and Judith Johnson|
|Dr’s Douglas and Martha Lee|
|El Grito Taqueria|
|Elaine and Severin Swanson|
|Elizabeth Brenner and Steven Ostrofsky|
|Ellen Seuferer and Richard Tatman|
|Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation|
|Finn Ryan and Brynn Bemis|
|Forrest and Margaret Jafuta|
|Frank W. Bastian|
|Fund for Environmental Journalism|
|Fund for Investigative Journalism|
|Gail and Allan Servoss|
|Gail and Dan Shea|
|George and Mary Ellen Hagenauer|
|George Wagner and Barb Rasman|
|Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Nickel Fund|
|Heidi and Scott Herron|
|Helu Wang and Xiaofei Guan|
|Hemant and Elizabeth Shah|
|Henry and Barbara Nehls-Lowe|
|Henry and Mary Ann Halsted|
|Herman Baumann and Kay Schwichtenberg|
|Howard and Nancy Mead|
|Hugh Dellios and Cynthia Johnson|
|Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment|
|Irene Schapiro and Norman Fost|
|Jack and Bonnie Mitchell|
|James and Patricia Johnson|
|James and Susan Zerwick|
|James Danky and Christine Schelshorn|
|James Kramer and Shoko Miyagi|
|James Marrari and Barbara Carstens|
|James Van Pelt|
|Janet and Derrick Gee|
|Janet and Douglas Laube|
|Janet Mertz and Jonathan Kane|
|Jennifer and John Edmondson|
|Jennifer and Louis Sanner|
|Jessica and Brad Green|
|Jim and Alice Leidel|
|Joan and Doug Maynard|
|Joanne and August Ricca|
|Joanne and Jim Collins|
|Joanne Brown and Michael Olneck|
|John K. MacIver Institute|
|John and Barbara Matthews|
|John and Barbara Smalley|
|John and Julie Rice|
|John and Lorelle Raihala|
|John Lawrence Hands and Karen Kendrick-Hands|
|John S. and James L. Knight Foundation|
|Jonathan M. Rivin|
|Joseph and Josefina Beck|
|Joseph Hall and Judy Thomas-Hall|
|Judith Ames Whitenack|
|Judy and Gary Jolin|
|Judy Newman Coburn|
|Judy Ranney and Robert Latchaw|
|Julie Horn Alexander|
|Kara and Ryan O’Connor|
|Karen and Anthony Eclavea|
|Karen Lincoln Michel and Roberto Michel|
|Karen McKim and Keith Nelson|
|Karon Medical Writing, LLC|
|Katherine McMullen and Jim Malewitz|
|Kathie and Laird Hart|
|Kathleen Barry and Richard Sternkopf|
|Kathleen Lapp James|
|Kathleen Massoth and Marshall Bruce Edmonson|
|Kathryn and Peter Bissen|
|Katie, Alan and Ellen Green|
|Keith and Juli Baumgartner|
|Kent Tempus and Denise Sheedy-Tempus|
|Kifflie Scott and Steve Sullivan|
|Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at The Miami Foundation|
|Kristeen and Todd Fansler|
|L. Jesse Kaysen|
|Lau and Bea Christensen|
|Lau and Bea Christensen Charitable Foundation|
|Laura and John Arnold|
|Lauren and Eric Fuhrmann|
|Lauren Azar and Rebecca Ryan|
|Lea and Durke Thompson|
|Leslie Ann Howard|
|Lewis Friedland and Stacey Oliker|
|Linda and David Maraniss|
|Linda and Edward Calhan|
|Linda and James Adams|
|Linda and John Mellowes|
|Linda Gorens-Levey and Michael Levey|
|Lisa Aarli and Gail Owens|
|Lyle and Vicki Muller|
|Lynn and Martin Preizler|
|Lynne and Bill Eich|
|Madison Neinfeldt and Jimmy Forman|
|Malcolm and Penny Brett|
|Marc Kinzelman and Mary McIlvaine|
|Margaret Jones and David Linton|
|Marianne and Brandon Spoon|
|Marilyn and Lawrence Krause|
|Marjorie Sable and George Smith|
|Mark and Catherine Pearce|
|Mark and Sara Eversden|
|Mark Pitsch and Mary Kemp|
|Mark Todd Milbourn and Lisa Heyamoto|
|Marsha and Peter Cannon|
|Martha Brown and Tony Lam|
|Martha Jane Mohler|
|Mary and Ken Rouse|
|Mary and Timothy Lyke|
|Mary Jo Hussey|
|Mary Joan Nastri|
|Mary Kae Nelson|
|Mary Kay Baum|
|Mary Lee Maki|
|Mary Miron and Gene Summers|
|Mary Sanford and Adrian Bourque|
|Mary Spicuzza and Dan Simmons|
|Matthew DeFour and Autumn Shiley|
|McGillivray Westerberg & Bender LLC|
|Megan Hagenauer and John Basler|
|Michael and Gloria Fauerbach|
|Michael and Susan Michaelis|
|Michael Nesemann and Susan Armantrout Nesemann|
|Michael Shank and Carol Troyer-Shank|
|Michaela and Gregory Moy|
|Michele and James Rohan|
|Mike Ivey and Vicki Elkin|
|Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
|Ned Cochrane and Bonnie Cox|
|Neil and Cindy Gleason|
|Neil Heinen and Nancy Christy|
|Nora Cusack and Brent Nicastro|
|Norma and Elliott Sober|
|Oma Vic McMurray|
|Open Society Foundations (Foundation to Promote Open Society)|
|Patricia and Edward Jones|
|Patriq and Tricia DuSaint|
|Patti Jo Severson|
|Paul and Diana Johnson|
|Paul and Sarah Ferguson|
|Peggy Prilaman Marxen and Duane Marxen|
|Peter and Barbara Grenier|
|Peter Gascoyne and Claudia English|
|Peters Family Foundation|
|Phil and Tricia Hands|
|Pines Bach LLP|
|PJ and Jana Slinger|
|Ralph and Patricia Weber|
|Reinout Van Wagtendonk|
|Reva & David Logan Foundation|
|Richard Thomas Record Living Trust|
|Richard and Carol Oliver|
|Richard and Cynthia Lovell|
|Richard and Krista Ralston|
|Richard Goldberg and Lisa Munro|
|Richard Smith and Patricia McKearn|
|Rita Allen Foundation|
|Rita and Timothy Kehl|
|Robert R. McCormick Foundation|
|Robert and Elke Hagge|
|Robert and Lynn Drechsel|
|Robert and Marianne Fazen|
|Robert and Sara Segall|
|Robert Dreps and Elizabeth Koehl|
|Robin and Peter Pool|
|Roger and Kristi Williams|
|Ronald and Catherine Rotter|
|Sally Mead Hands Foundation|
|Sally and Charles Miley|
|Sandra Kay and James Brooks|
|Schott, Bublitz & Engel s.c.|
|Sharon and Warren Gaskill|
|Sharon Dunwoody and Stephen Glass|
|Sharon Stark and Peter Livingston|
|Sheryl and Roger Lepage|
|Shirley Brabender Mattox|
|Steve and Susan Macejkovic|
|Steven and Kathleen Clark|
|Stuart and Carol Martell|
|Sue Kelley Hudson|
|Susan and Leslie Hoffman|
|Susan De Vos|
|Susan Latton and James Gill|
|Susan Peters and Jim Cricchi|
|Susan Troller Cosgrove and Howard Cosgrove|
|Suzanne and Daniel Brooks|
|Sybil and Maurice Better|
|Tara and Carlos Pabellon|
|Terry Rindfleisch and Linda Hirsh|
|Thomas and Andy Dukehart|
|Thomas and Katherine Bier|
|Thomas Warren and Anna Marie Benander Warren|
|Tina Rosenberg Varenik|
|Todd and Eileen Kursel|
|Tom and Patti Cameron|
|Tom Jerow and Steven Schreier|
|Tribune Phonograph TP Printing|
|Troy Lethem and Mary Matthias|
|Vantage Point luncheon series|
|Victoria and Patrick Sweeney|
|Vincel Jenkins and Stefanie Moritz|
|Vincent O’Hern and Linda Baldwin|
|Vital Projects Fund|
|W. Jeffrey Smoller|
|Walt Bogdanich and Stephanie Saul|
|We The People|
|Wendy and Shaun Hathaway|
|Wendy Fearnside and Bruce Meier|
|William and Cheryl Merrick|
|William and Claudia Kaiser|
|William and Doreen Seely|
|William and Gretchen Dresen|
|Wisconsin Newspaper Association|
|Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation|
|Wisconsin Public Radio|
|Wisconsin State Journal|
|Wisconsin Broadcasters Association|
|Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation|
|Yvette Jones and John Lombardo|