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Jennifer Leonard Scholarship


Established by former IRE president David Cay Johnston to honor his wife, Jennifer Leonard, the president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and a national leader in promoting ethical standards for endowments before she retired in 2022.

In the early 1980s, Leonard exposed how corporations blackballed various charities in 16 cities. She tried to get the newspapers in these towns to pay attention, but only two followed up on her article for a little magazine called The Grantsmanship Center News.

Leonard also wrote what may be the first published list of how grant makers should apply the Golden Rule to grant seekers. Later, hoping to stir better coverage of nonprofits and their role in the quality of communities, she and her husband co–wrote a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review on how to cover nonprofits as hard news. The couple also wrote exposés of charities and Hollywood films that sold lies as truth.

 Application Deadline:
April 1st
Apply Online

Who is eligible?

Women of modest means who are college journalism students or early-career professional journalists (three years or less of post-college work experience). Women of color and trans women are encouraged to apply.

What does the fellowship provide?

For attending the conference in-person, the fellowship includes:

  • One-year IRE membership/renewal ($25-70 value)
  • Complimentary conference registration 
  • Four hotel nights ($1,040 value)
  • Travel stipend ($500)

Required application materials:

  • LinkedIn page or link to resume
  • Links to two clips showcasing investigative/journalistic work
  • Link to college transcript (for students only)
  • Statement on financial need
  • Letter of support from your supervisor/manager/adviser describing how this training would be beneficial and affirming that you will be given time to attend the training. Independent journalists: this letter will serve as a recommendation letter. 
How to donate to IRE's Endowment

The Jennifer Leonard Scholarships are funded with a pledge being paid over 20 years, plus matching funds from friends and The New York Times Company Foundation — all of which were matched by the Knight Foundation through a challenge grant awarded to IRE. The number of scholars is expected to double once the pledge is fulfilled.

“Giving to the IRE Endowment can have a big impact with a modest level of giving over time,” Johnston said. His gifts of $2,100 per year, before the income tax deduction, and the matching funds will eventually provide the IRE Endowment with more than $100,000.

If you wish to contribute to this fellowship, you can donate through IRE's online donation form and indicate the name of the fund in the form. 

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