South Dakota News Watch wins grant to report on Native American issues

South Dakota News Watch has been accepted into a national grant and educational program that will enable News Watch to expand its coverage of the Native American community in South Dakota throughout 2020.

In February, News Watch was one of 12 journalism organizations selected for participation in the Solutions Journalism Revenue Project, a first-time program run by the non-profit Solutions Journalism Network and funded by the Google News Initiative. More than 100 journalism organizations across the country applied for the grant.

The goals of the program are twofold: to fund reporting that focuses on communities or populations that face challenges related to income, health, education or overall well-being; and to educate news organizations on how to leverage public-service reporting to generate new revenue.

Solutions Journalism is focused on the concept that reporting on important issues should also explore and offer potential solutions that will help solve problems or improve communities and populations. The network was founded in 2014 and provides funding and education to news organizations and freelance reporters to enhance the impact of their journalistic work.

“By using rigorous reporting to tell the full story, solutions journalism can build a better relationship between a news organization and the community it serves. It helps with audience engagement, and inspires trust in journalism and within communities,” the organization said in announcing the grants. “Now, the Solutions Journalism Revenue Project will see how diverse news organizations can use it to unlock the financial support news organizations need.”

News Watch is a nonpartisan, non-profit news organization that publishes its material on its website, on social media and on dozens of traditional media platforms across the state. Launched in 2018, News Watch is completely funded by donations and grants.

The grant money received by News Watch will offset costs of time, travel and technology related to reporting on the Native American community in South Dakota, said David Bordewyk, News Watch executive director.

“We are honored to have been selected for this grant from among applicants nationwide,” Bordewyk said. “These resources will help us report important Native American issues in our state and ultimately fulfill our mission to inform and enlighten citizens.”

The grant project will be led by Bordewyk and News Watch Content Director Bart Pfankuch. News Watch anticipates using the grant funding to produce three multi-part journalism projects in 2020, all focused on highlighting issues and offering potential solutions that can improve the lives and health of Native Americans across South Dakota.

Visit to learn more about the Solutions Journalism Network.

NEWS WATCH FILE PHOTO: This image was part of a 2019 special report by News Watch that focused on challenges and opportunities in Native American education in the state. Caption: Promoting personal expression through art is one way that the Cheyenne River Youth Project helps Native American youths in South Dakota develop a connection to their culture and also a greater interest in education. Photo: Courtesy of CRYP