Now, more than ever, nonprofit and community assistance organizations have been called to the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to help those who have lost jobs, homes, and health as a result of the worldwide shutdown. In 2020, as the number of those in need skyrocketed, many community organizations dug deep into their resources to tackle their missions, often struggling to keep up with the increased demand for their services.
Through the Community Thrives program, the Gannett Foundation, nonprofit arm of the world’s most widely circulated publishing company, Gannett, has endeavored to bring money to organizations that needed a helping hand with a $2.3 million grant. The crowdfunding and grant program is in its fourth year, but the events of 2020 brought a much more significant focus to organizations that aid neighborhoods and communities. This year, crowdfunding efforts alone raised $5.6 million in funds.
Grants from the Gannett Foundation are awarded based on the proposed projects’ viability, sustainability, community need, and services provided to historically disadvantaged groups.
“The Gannett Foundation grants will support our readers’ top community-building ideas to help address local needs and ensure a vibrant, healthy community. We are committed to work in partnership to help our communities connect, act, and thrive,” said Gannett Media president of news and Gannett Foundation vice president Maribel Perez Wadsworth in a Vineland Daily Journal article.
Saint Paul–based nonprofit 30,000 Feet is one of the organizations awarded a Gannett Foundation grant in 2020. The nonprofit is dedicated to empowering African American youth through initiatives such as after-school programming, art residencies, and a technology education program. The grant will go toward a 4,000-square-foot community space for a multitude of purposes: graffiti artists, spoken word poetry, coding academies, and even protest planning, 30,000 Feet cofounder Kevin Robinson told USA Today.
After the shooting of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis, Robinson felt he needed to do something immediately. With Gannett Foundation aid, he hopes 30,000 Feet’s Black Arts Center will open in February 2022.
The Power Behind the Throne
Gannett’s ability to give back to its communities comes in part from its presence in so many communities. The company owns the ubiquitous USA Today along with a huge swath of local and regional papers, ensuring that most Americans regularly interact with a Gannett property. Given USA Today’s massive footprint and Gannett’s business operations in more than forty states, it’s easy to imagine a law department consistently on their toes.
That legal effort rests partially on Assistant General Counsel Didler Diels’s shoulders. A fast riser, Diels accrued time at well-known firms doing complex transactional work prior to going in-house at Faraday Future. He came to Gannett in 2017. Diels’s tenure includes the New Media Investment Group’s 2019 announcement that it would be purchasing Gannett.
The intricacies of creating the United States’ largest newspaper have undoubtedly taken up a significant portion of Diels’s schedule. The merger brings together 260 daily papers and assorted weeklies. It is a landmark deal in publishing and, according to the New York Times, that means that one in four papers is effectively owned by a single company.
The future of the newspaper business may lie in Gannett’s hands. It’s a heavy responsibility for a newly merged company, and as always, there’s no doubt that the legal team will remain vigilant in protecting the company’s expanding assets.
“Beckage is proud to work with Gannett Media and support Didier and Gannett’s Rebuilding America initiative in helping businesses adapt to a post-COVID-19 economy. Our law firm applauds and supports such innovation and forward thinking.”
–Jennifer A. Beckage, Esq. CIPP/US, CIPP/E