RFA: TCDD Journalism Fellows

RFA TCDD Journalism Fellows Graphic Banner

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for TCDD Journalism Fellows (RFA 2020-06). Through these grants, media entities will hire a Fellow who will publish content about people with disabilities and disability issues.


Journalism professionals can be instrumental in creating change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. The purpose of the TCDD Journalism Fellows program is to increase the number of journalism professionals with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to engage in disability-related journalism with respect to the Developmental Disabilities Act and the experiences of Texans with disabilities and their families.

About the RFA

The TCDD Journalism Fellows program will provide exceptional learning and professional development opportunities for people who are ready to achieve excellence in disability reporting. Through the program, the Fellow will acquire the skills and connections from the Advising Entity to cultivate a meaningful career in journalism and potentially be a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities and disability issues. The Advising Entity is the media entity that would apply for and execute the TCDD Journalism Fellows grant project.

The program is for:

  • college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism, mass communications, or other related field;
  • people already employed in the media sector with a desire for enrichment or advancement through a hands-on journalism experience within a media-focused environment; and
  • people who have demonstrated skills in disability media advocacy (e.g., people with disabilities and family members of people with disabilities).

A concerted effort should be made to recruit, interview, and select Fellows who have disabilities. Additional preference will be given to applicants who plan to recruit Fellows with disabilities who are also people of color and/or people who are bilingual.

Advising Entities
The Advising Entity is the grantee and will provide the Fellow with expertise in journalism. Mentors will be identified from the entity will create structure, assist with goal setting, help prioritize the work of the Fellow, and hold themselves and the Fellow accountable for making progress towards the goals of this RFA. The Mentor would be responsible for providing advanced, senior-level guidance and technical assistance to the Fellow.

Advising Entities will recruit and select Fellows in consultation with TCDD. Advising Entities could use funding to hire an existing employee as a Fellow as long as the employee shifted job duties to focus on the outcomes of this RFA. Entities are required to use grant funds to pay the salary and benefits of a Fellow. Commensurate salaries are expected and benefits should be equal to the benefits offered to other employees of the entity. Fellows should have access to human resources.

Advising entities will clearly and consistently demonstrate that the focus and goal of their project will be training and guiding the Fellow through the duration of TCDD’s funding.

Mentors are intended to provide the Fellow with journalism knowledge and/or perspectives on disability. They have been there and done that. Choosing a Mentor is a very personal decision. Advising Entities may use grant funds to compensate Mentors for their mentoring efforts.

The Fellowship Experience
The Fellowship experience would be jointly developed by the Fellow, Advising Entity, and TCDD staff, taking into consideration current Advising Entity priorities, TCDD projects and goals, as well as the skills and interests of the Fellow. Fellows would be expected to meet regularly with TCDD’s public policy and/or communications staff. TCDD staff may suggest individual projects to Fellows based on their interests, skills, and other factors.

The Fellow will keep their Advising Entity and Mentor aware of their progress as well as submit a final report to TCDD on their activities, accomplishments, and challenges encountered during the Fellowship. The Fellow may also provide recommendations for improving the program.

Listed below are some of the specific activities that will be conducted by a Fellow.

  • Fellows will develop and publish stories related to disability issues.
  • Fellows will cover, evaluate, and/or explain state policies or practices in their reporting.
  • Fellows will seek out and integrate the experiences and voices of people with developmental disabilities (DD) and their family members in their journalism.
  • Fellows will develop a career plan to list their short-term and long-term career goals and the actions they will take to achieve them.
  • Fellows will meaningfully contribute to the Advising Entity’s mission and attend associated events.
  • Fellows will meaningfully contribute to TCDD’s mission and attend TCDD events.
  • Fellows will collaborate with Council grantees in their efforts.
  • Fellows will develop an end-of-project report that captures the essence of the information learned throughout this project. The report will include recommendations for building upon current work and assisting TCDD to determine where, when, and how it can address positive change and continued learning.

The funding amount for this RFA is $75,000 for up to 12 months. Funding is available for up to six projects.