Since 2021, Journalism + Design has been partnering with community colleges and local media to create news hubs and media incubators: community members learn journalism skills, develop relevant news products for their communities, and participate in producing and sharing high-quality stories and information. 

This work is predicated on the idea that community colleges – as trusted institutions serving largely non-elite populations – have a vital role to play in their local news ecosystems. 

Journalism + Design began working with community colleges in 2017 by offering free training sessions to professors using our educational resources. Today, we are leading collaborations with community colleges across the country in three core ways:

  • Developing free noncredit certificate programs in journalism and civic media that community colleges offer to students and community members; 
  • Facilitating partnerships between community colleges, local media and other community groups to fuel grassroots news production and distribution; 
  • Creating physical spaces that act as open newsrooms, training facilities, news-product innovation-labs and community news event spaces.

This initiative is emergent and iterative. Explore examples of our work below.


In 2022, in partnership with the Community College of Philadelphia, Journalism + Design created a new noncredit certificate, Community Journalism for Civic Power, and awarded more than 40 certificates to local participants. In addition, Journalism + Design connected participants with opportunities at local media organizations Resolve Philly and City Bureau’s Documenters Network. 

The curriculum for Community Journalism for Civic Power is now available at no cost on our website. It also serves as a foundation for additional certificate programs we are building with other colleges around the country.

New Jersey

Journalism + Design partnered with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities in 2022 to launch new civic media certificates with community colleges across the state. This work is funded by a generous grant from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium. 

In a separate initiative in 2022, Democracy and the Informed Citizen, J+D collaborated with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and the Community Foundation of South Jersey to train more than a dozen people from six South Jersey communities in journalism as a way to support grassroots storytelling projects.


In fall 2021, Journalism + Design co-launched the Oakland Lowdown, a news hub housed in the first floor of a single-resident occupancy building in downtown Oakland. Working with our partners at Collective Action Studio, a community arts organization, we equip community members with journalism, art and design tools to share local news in creative ways. 

For example, we’ve published a print zine with correspondents who live in supportive housing communities, created a community-sourced art installation with students at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism about the 2022 election, and produced a news broadcast with members of a local homeless encampment. We are also developing training, certificate and fellowship programs that we will host from the Lowdown beginning in 2023.


In Spring 2022, we partnered with Cuyahoga Community College and the Neighborhood Media Foundation in Cleveland to create a new class that challenged students to research the information needs and assets of the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood. 

The students talked to more than 100 people in the neighborhood about how they get their news, and what kinds of local stories and information they’d like to see. Read the report they produced, and hear the students discuss the project on More Human, a podcast of the Jack, Joseph and Mort Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C. 

We are building on this collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College and local media organizations in Cleveland to launch a community news hub.