Shadowproof is proud to welcome applications for the 2022 Marvel Cooke Fellowship. 

The fellowship’s mission is to fund reporting from writers of color on abolition movements around the world. We are specifically looking for journalists who have a history of engagement and experience with abolition, and who produce journalism with an abolitionist ethic.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2022. Details on the process and guidelines for submission are below. Please read carefully before submitting your application. Incarcerated journalists are especially encouraged to apply. 

This year, thanks to support from Mariame Kaba and readers who donated to generously increase our fellowship funding from last year, each fellow will receive $2,000.

In addition to increasing the size of awards this year, we hope to provide fellowships to a greater number of incarcerated journalists. The fellowship will continue to offer those writers additional funds to cover incidental costs related to producing reporting behind prison walls, such as purchasing stamps and phone credits. 

Finally, we plan to commission artwork from the talented incarcerated artist Paul Lacombe to accompany each piece.

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Shadowproof has reported on abolitionist movements since our founding in 2015. Following the George Floyd uprisings of 2020, Shadowproof launched the Marvel Cooke Fellowship, named for the legendary Black radical activist and journalist from Monkato, Minnesota.

We encourage prospective applicants to read more about Marvel Cooke’s life and influence on this project as we urge fellows to produce journalism that follows in her footsteps.

Last year, our Marvel Cooke fellows produced serious reporting on abolition at a time when much of the reporting and analysis was confused, inadequate, or simply in bad faith. We published eight pieces that covered topics ranging from fighting COVID-19 in jails and prisons, reparations for forced sterilizations, international solidarity, abolitionist approaches to violence, and beyond. This included two excellent contributions from incarcerated journalists Rahsaan “New York” Thomas and Juan Moreno Haines.

Applicants should also read the work of last year’s fellows, as well as our other reporting on abolition, to get an idea of the kind of work we’re pursuing.

How To Apply

DEADLINE March 1, 2022

Incarcerated applicants may apply directly or work via a sponsor on the outside. Those applying directly can mail their pitches to:

FDL Media Group
PO Box 117
Cumberland Center, ME 04021-0117

If you are concerned about meeting our application deadline given prison obstacles and delays, please let us know and we will work with you.

Outside applicants must submit pitches via email to brian@shadowproof.com. Please begin the subject line of your email with: “MARVEL COOKE:”

For all applicants:

Shadowproof will only consider detailed pitches. We will not consider pre-written stories or drafts. Please do not pitch personal essays, editorials, or first-person narratives.

To be considered, your pitch must include:

  • 1-2 paragraph summary of the story you want to tell. 
  • A bulleted outline with examples of research and sources you plan to consult for each section. It’s OK if this information or structure changes later, and you don’t need to divulge sensitive or identifying source information.
  • How long you expect the story to be, and whether you plan to incorporate any original media (photos, infographics, video, etc.)
  • How much time you think you will need to produce your first draft. We will use this to negotiate your first deadline.
  • A few sentences introducing yourself, as well as any relevant details about your experience as a journalist and why you are applying for the fellowship. You may include any websites, portfolios, or other materials relevant to this work.
  • OPTIONAL (but encouraged): A writing sample if you haven’t been previously published by Shadowproof.

Who Should Apply & What Are You Looking For?

Black people, people of color, people from poor and working-class backgrounds, immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, trans and gender non-conforming people, women, young people, criminalized people, and disabled people are strongly encouraged to apply.

Shadowproof is an equal-opportunity employer and we do not discriminate based upon gender, race, national origin, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression.

Journalists are encouraged to pitch original news stories and analyses related to abolition movements around the world. We seek fact-based reporting that involves primary source materials and interviews with organizers and people directly impacted by the issues being covered. 

Potential areas of investigation include but are not limited to:

  • Reporting on abolitionist approaches to organizing in spaces such as labor, health care, the environment, housing, transportation, etc.
  • Grassroots abolitionist organizing to redistribute power and resources away from policing, prisons, or other arms of the carceral state
  • Examples of transformative justice, community accountability, and other non-carceral harm intervention and disruption practices
  • Critical analysis of reformist-reforms and exploration of non-reformist (abolitionist) reform proposals

Ideally, applicants will demonstrate an understanding of and experience with reporting on the abolition movement, including the delicate nature of working with criminalized and policed sources.

Shadowproof is committed to the safety and privacy of our sources. We are open to discussing measures to protect people featured in our reporting, as we acknowledge the sensitive and often dangerous nature of this work.

What Happens After I Apply?

We’re eager to read your application. We will begin reviewing applications after the March 1 deadline.

During that time, Shadowproof will consider your application alongside the others we have received and respond if we have any additional questions. Once we have all of the information we need, we will mail or email acceptance letters by March 11.

If your application is approved, we’ll share information on our process, our style guidelines, and establish a deadline. We can also set up phone calls to discuss your piece in further detail.

Shadowproof has a collaborative editorial process in which we encourage your active participation. We’re here to help you at every stage along the way, and you will have ample opportunity to review, discuss, and approve our edits and your final draft before publication. 

We support all paid contributions by featuring them prominently on our homepage and sharing them widely on social media. Occasionally, we’ll also invite authors to participate in community activities with us, like Q&A’s.

Unless all parties involved have made a written agreement stating otherwise, we pay writers in-full no later than the day of publication.

Shadowproof

Shadowproof

Shadowproof is a press organization driven to expose systemic abuses of power in business and government while at the same time developing a model for independent journalism that supports a diverse range of young freelance writers and contributors. It is intrinsically committed to elevating voices from marginalized communities, as well as dissenting perspectives which deserve greater attention.