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The Chauncey Bailey Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship

Provides assistance to attend a Data Journalism Bootcamp, the NICAR Conference, the IRE Conference and more.


The yearlong program is intended to prepare and support a journalist of color for a solid career in investigative reporting. The program also provides an opportunity for the fellow’s news outlets to benefit from the fellow’s investigative skill-building. An underlying goal of the program is to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests within the field of investigative journalism, where diverse perspectives are critically important. The fellowship is made possible by the generosity of IRE members and news organization sponsors.

Application deadline is:
Saturday, September 21, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. CT

Application OPEN

Who is eligible?

  • U.S. journalists of color who want to improve their investigative skills.
  • Applicants should have at least three years of post-college work experience.
  • Applicants should be currently working with a supportive news organization or working as an independent journalist.
  • Applicants who can propose a well-developed project which would benefit from the training and mentoring the fellow would receive.
  • Students are not eligible.

What would the fellow do?

The fellow would:

  • Obtain employer support
  • Create an investigative reporting project that benefits your community
  • Attend an IRE boot camp
  • Attend the NICAR conference
  • Attend the IRE conference
  • Receive IRE data services
  • Receive a one-year IRE membership/renewal
  • Initiate contact and work with a mentor network made up of IRE members
  • Set up monthly video calls with their mentor network for one year, or until the project is complete, whichever comes first, to discuss the project’s progress

The fellow would be encouraged to do the following after the fellowship concludes:

  • Serve as part of the mentor network
  • Serve on fellowship selection committee
  • Renew IRE membership

What does the fellowship provide?

  • One-year IRE membership/renewal ($70 value)
  • Complimentary bootcamp registration (up to $1,100 value)
  • Bootcamp travel stipend ($1,000)
  • Complimentary NICAR conference registration ($300 value)
  • Complimentary NICAR conference hotel nights (up to 4 nights) ($1,240 value)
  • NICAR conference travel stipend ($500)
  • Complimentary IRE conference registration ($325 value)
  • Complimentary IRE conference hotel nights (up to 4 nights) ($920 value)
  • IRE conference travel stipend ($500)
  • Complimentary IRE Data Services (up to 12 hours) ($1,200 value)

Required application materials:

  • LinkedIn page or link to resume
  • Links to two clips showcasing investigative work
  • Description of project to be tackled during the fellowship (calendar year)
  • Letter of support from supervisor/management stating the newsroom/management will allow the fellow time to work on the project and time to attend all required IRE trainings included in the fellowship. The letter should also serve as a recommendation letter. Independent journalists, a letter of recommendation is required.

How to support the program

Individuals can make a secure donation online. Please put “JOC” in the text box.

To become a corporate sponsor, contact IRE Director of Partnerships Anna López.

Journalist of Color program sponsors

The fellowship was started with generous donations from IRE members Mike Gruss, Meghan Hoyer, Megan Luther and Mike Tahani. The funding for the program has grown through continued funding from Gruss, Hoyer, Luther and Tahani as well as from many other individual donors. At the 2019 IRE Conference, the conference fundraiser was dedicated to the IRE JOC Fellowship. At the 2023 IRE Conference, the fellowship was renamed in honor of murdered journalist Chauncey Bailey.

Published Projects

2023 Projects

Halima Gikandi investigated allegations of abuse, neglect and misconduct at two orphanages in Uganda. Her multi-part series, "No place to call home," was published by The World radio program.

Leslie Rangel explored the mental health crisis for kids in Texas, which ranks last in the nation for access to mental healthcare. "Admitted," her multi-part series, aired on KTBC-TV Austin.

Kaylee Tornay dove into the lack of child care supply in Oregon. Her story, "Badly Needed Infant And Toddler Care Investments Aren’t Reaching Oregon’s North Coast," was published by InvestigateWest. 

2022 Projects

Sergio Martinez Beltran explored the H-2A program in Texas for The Texas Newsroom, a public radio journalism collaboration. The first installment in the series is titled, "Without enough workers in the U.S. to fill jobs, ranches and farms in Texas look abroad."

Robyn Vincent, a reporter with KUNC’s Northern Colorado Center for Investigative Reporting, examined the power of Colorado sheriffs. This story, "Who Watches the Watchdog?," is part of an occasional KUNC investigative series.

2021 Projects

Ishan Thakore examined court records of complaints against New York City landlords and found that unlawful evictions go unpunished more often than not. Ishan’s investigation was published by THE CITY: NYC Landlords Almost Never Get Arrested for Illegal DIY Evictions

Rowaida Abdelaziz explored the impact of the 2017-2021 travel ban that blocked individuals from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The investigation used data to uncover the physical, mental and economic toll the ban has taken. Rowaida’s investigation was published by the Huffington Post: Trump's Travel Ban Forever Changed The Lives Of Muslims Around The World

Terry Jones took a deep dive into Baton Rouge’s spending of federal funds to see how questionable spending of grant dollars might have further stunted the communities that needed them most. Terry’s investigation was published by The Advocate: Baton Rouge wasted or left unspent $13.4 million in federal housing grants

2020 Projects

Sameea Kamal explored changes to Title IX under the Trump administration as part of her project. Kamal's investigation was published by The Center for Public Integrity in March 2021. 

Josh McGhee produced a collaboration with the Better Government Association, looking at how racial disparities in the court system have grown as caseloads have shrunk. And another story exposed how prosecutors used grand jury hearings to force hundreds of Black men to plead guilty to gun possession charges upending their lives, part of a series looking at how gun possession is policed and prosecuted in Chicago. 

Monica Velez produced a series of stories through The Fresno Bee investigating school districts in Frenso, California, and inequities in the education system during a year of COVID-19 and a racial reckoning. The stories can be found below:

2019 Project

Past & Present Recipients

2023 Fellows

Halima Gikandi is the Africa Correspondent for The World radio program, the largest international news program on American public radio. Based in Nairobi, Gikandi reports on current affairs in Africa, with a focus on politics, security, and human rights. In 2019 and 2021, she served on the board of the International Press Association of East Africa (IPAEA), which advocates for hundreds of journalists working in the region. Gikandi’s fellowship project investigates allegations that certain U.S. citizens are taking advantage of Uganda’s weak social and legal protections to exploit minors.

Leslie Rangel is an award-winning morning anchor at KTBC’s Good Day Austin. Before landing in Austin, Rangel's work took her across the south, covering oil refinery explosions in Beaumont, Texas, chasing tornadoes and earthquakes in Oklahoma City, covering the Austin Police department and helping to launch the first local Fox affiliate in Waco. Looking at the intersection of mental health access, community impact and systemic racism in Texas communities, Rangel’s project focuses on the reported lack of accessibility of mental health services for communities of color in the state.

Kaylee Tornay was an award-winning education reporter at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the Medford Mail Tribune before joining InvestigateWest as an investigative reporter. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon. Tornay’s project takes a deep dive into Oregon’s child care and early education system to determine whether it is perpetuating inequities for students and their families in regard to supply, quality and affordability of child care and early education options.

2022 Fellows

Robyn Vincent of Mountain West News Bureau. Vincent is building an inequality beat at the Mountain West News Bureau, a consortium of NPR stations serving the American West. She has been with the bureau since November 2020. Prior to that, she launched the news department at Jackson Hole Community Radio in Wyoming and was editor of an alt-weekly newspaper there. She is a graduate of Wayne State University.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran, a Texas political reporter, has been with The Texas Newsroom, a public radio collaboration with NPR and Texas stations since March 2022. Prior to that, he was at Bridge Michigan, and he also worked for Nashville Public Radio. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

2021 Fellows

Rowaida Abdelaziz is an enterprise reporter at HuffPost and has been with the organization since November 2016. Prior to that, she was HuffPost’s social media editor, and she served as Middle East North Africa Researcher for the Committee to Protect Journalists. She is a graduate of Rutgers University. 

Terry Jones has been a staff reporter at The Advocate since April 2012. Prior to that, he was at the Hattiesburg American. He is a graduate of Southern University.

Ishan Thakore is an independent journalist and associate producer for the Emmy Award-winning show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. He was previously a Sundance Institute Grantee at BBC World Service and a National Geographic digital storytelling Fulbright Fellow. Thakore is a graduate of Duke University.

2020 Fellows

Sameea Kamal is a news desk editor currently working for the Los Angeles Times. She previously led digital strategy at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative newsroom. Kamal has served in digital and reporting roles at the Los Angeles Times, Times Community News and the Hartford Courant, and reported on economic development, green energy and school construction. She is passionate about making news accessible through engaging reporting, digital strategy and design. Kamal received her bachelor’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in mass communications with a minor in public policy, and her master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School. 

Josh McGhee is an investigative reporter for The Chicago Reporter covering criminal justice, labor, politics, culture and the legalization of cannabis in Illinois. Prior to the Reporter, he produced a radio docu-series on the Great Migration, served as an executive producer of the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON and reported on neighborhood change and homicides for DNAinfo Chicago. In 2016, his “Chicago Homeless Get Left Behind” series was awarded Best Feature Series at the Peter Lisagor Awards.

Monica Velez has covered issues in minority communities across California’s San Joaquin Valley for the past three years. She currently is an education reporter at The Fresno Bee, with a focus on early childhood and K-12 education. Before that, Velez covered immigration for the Valley’s NPR member station, Valley Public Radio. She got her start in journalism covering health at the Merced Sun-Star, a daily newspaper in Merced County. While at the Sun-Star, Velez was awarded a yearlong fellowship with the Center for Health Journalism at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, where she examined how doctor shortages affected low-income populations. In 2016, Velez won a first-place California News Publishers Association award for her coverage on doctor shortages. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing from California State University, Sacramento. Velez, who is a first-generation Salvadoreña, was born and raised in the Bay Area and grew up with her mom, dad, older brother and German Shepard, Koda. 

2019 Fellow

Bracey Harris of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, is IRE’s first Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellow. Harris, an education reporter, has been at the paper since September 2015. She previously worked at WLBT News in Jackson as an associate morning producer. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. As part of her fellowship, Harris explored the effects of school integration on black families in Mississippi.

Harris’s investigation published The Hechinger Report and The Clarion-Ledger in February 2020.

Read what Harris had to say about her fellowship:

Last year, I performed an audit of my work and identified missed opportunities where further digging could have created a greater impact. Going forward, I knew I wanted to approach my watchdog reporting with a hard focus on producing results rather than my previous “one-and-dones” that might have only caused a day of two or discomfort for their subjects, at best.

By providing me with a mentor network and training opportunities, the Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship has helped me make that goal a reality.

From walking me through how to map out a long-term investigation and balance my education beat duties to recommending hands-on training to take advantage of during IRE events, my mentors have been a lifeline as I report on the most challenging project in my journalism career to date.

This support, coupled with the training opportunities I received through attending IRE’s boot camp and NICAR, has made what was once an elusive dream project attainable.

109 Lee Hills Hall, Missouri School of Journalism   |   221 S. Eighth St., Columbia, MO 65201   |   573-882-2042   |   |   Privacy Policy
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