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Rapidian seeking NPO partners for news bureaus

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

As the Rapidian nears its first birthday, we are looking to extend the Rapidian to new audiences and engage new voices.
Underwriting support from:

/Matthew Silverman


As the Rapidian nears its first birthday, we are looking to extend The Rapidian to new audiences and engage new voices. The cornerstone of this initiative is the plan to seed and help launch unique new bureaus. The Rapidian will provide tools, training and support for up to four community partnerships. Do you know a place where community gathers or an organization that serves unique voices? Please help pass along the following “call for proposals.” Help us spread the word! Thanks.
Call for Proposals
Neighborhood News Bureaus
Proposals will continue to be accepted until sites/partners have been chosen.
Review of initial proposals will begin 8/20/2010 


The Rapidian is a citizen journalism platform that facilitates and distributes text, video and audio reporting generated by people in our community. We are currently seeking to provide four local organizations with tools, training and support to encourage participation of new voices in local news gathering and reporting. As a project of the Community Media Center, The Rapidian has initial funding from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

The Rapidian began development in spring 2009 with a few basic principles. It had to be a framework that would allow Grand Rapidians to report from their neighborhoods and a platform that connects community members and neighbors to one another.

Since our September 2009 launch, we have seen a continuous growth of both interest and web traffic to the site. The Rapidian is currently receiving nearly 25,000 page views per month and more than 150 residents have signed on to be citizen reporters.
As we gear up for year two, we've returned to the roots and original name of our project: Neighborhood news bureaus. The Rapidian is now accepting proposals from community-based organizations and venues that wish to deploy media tools and resources to help their friends, clients, neighbors and constituents better engage in community communications.
Do you work with youth looking for their voice? Do you serve seniors who could share their perspectives and observations with the greater community? Do you represent an under-reported or under represented sector of our community? Does your organization represent a geographic neighborhood?

In short: How can citizen journalism tools, training and support help your organization achieve its mission, empower the communities you target and amplify the voices of those you serve?

Initially an 18-month partnership, The Rapidian is offering equipment, tech support, a web platform and a modest support stipend. The possibilities that issue from this toolset are endless.

  • Equipment
    1. The Rapidian will offer a desktop computer equipped with media editing software to be used as an editing and content upload station.
    2. We will provide up to three reporter packs, each containing (at least) an audio recorder, still camera and point-and-shoot video camera.
  • Training & Support
    1. The Rapidian will provide train-the-trainers workshops on media equipment, use of content management systems, and web-based communication tools as well as ongoing reporting support to the bureau host organizations.
    2. We will help with promotions for each bureau.
    3. Our web team will be responsive to the bureau's site needs, changes and troubleshooting.
  • Web platform
    1. Access to content management interface to curate online content.
    2. Our web team will make developments to each bureau's section based on feedback from that bureau for better community interface and special features.
  • Stipend
    1. For an 18 month commitment, The Rapidian is offering a modest monthly stipend to help partner organizations pay for hard costs, such as Internet connectivity, etc.
We are looking for applicants who envision these resources as a method to support their mission and programs. To ensure an accessible bureau, we request that interested organizations make the following commitments:
  • Actively work with Rapidian staff to maximize program effectiveness.
  • Commit physical space to house equipment and host trainings.
  • Develop, follow and evaluate a plan to encourage and facilitate participation by those you serve.
  • Curate and organize content on bureau section of the Rapidian.
  • Safeguard equipment.
  • Make high-speed connectivity available
  • Indentify and empower a project leader from your organization.
  • Communicate special needs to accommodate content on the news site, troubleshooting needs and reporter needs
  • Participate actively in discussion and initiate feedback so The Rapidian staff can continue to enhance the news outlet.
Note: selected organizations must be located within the City limits of Grand Rapids or primarily serve Grand Rapids residents.
We hope this approach to neighborhood news bureaus will give applicants freedom to craft the most impactful use of these resources. If your group is interested in proposing a bureau, please provide responses to as many of the questions below as is reasonable to describe your proposal.
  • Describe your “community.” Is it geographical? Demographically specific? Sector specific? Tell us about your organization.
  • Who would you primarily serve?
    • How will your participants benefit? Whose voices will be elevated?
    • How will the greater community benefit by their participation?
  • The Rapidian features content in video, audio, text and photos. What types of content interest you most, and why?
  • Who are your community partners?
  • Describe how you propose to utilize the resources:
    • Who would oversee the project? What relevant interest/experience do they possess?
    • Describe your ideas to make the tools and resources accessible to your community.
    • How many participants do you think would/could be involved and how would you engage them?
  • What challenges do you most anticipate?
  • Besides modest editorial and content parameters set by The Rapidian, will you have restrictions on the type of content produced?
  • Rapidian equipment and tools do not require significant amounts of space, but dedication of a small room is ideal for creating a news bureau. Describe your physical space plans.
    • Do you have internet access?
    • Who will be able to access to this space for reporting activities?
  • What else would you like us to know?
Please send proposals to [email protected].
Proposals will continue to be accepted until a maximum of four sites/partners have been chosen. Review of initial proposals will begin August 20th. If you have questions about this project please feel free to contact us. Thanks so much.
Laurie Cirivello, Publisher                                                [email protected]   459-4788 x101
Denise Cheng, Citizen Journalism Coordinator               [email protected] 459-4788 x124
The Rapidian is a service of The Grand Rapids Community Media Center

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

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