Media, Data & Tech Fellowships


Community Media, Data and Technology (CMDT) fellowships provide annual funding and technical support to community organizations in Champaign County looking to advance promising ideas to change local communities and systems. 

CMDT awards will support four awardees with:

  1. A  $5K award to fund a Digital Media, Data or Technology project that meets a need for local organizations and their support for community members in Champaign County. The funds should be spent in the spring of 2022, with project completion by July 2022.
  1. A fellowship to develop fellows’ technology/media/data skills via a workshop series dedicated to supporting skills development around media production, technology, and/or data management. These workshops will support skills development around existing needs fellows identify for their work with media, visual data and sound-based, video and social media skills. Workshops will be tailored to expand the storytelling and knowledge distribution capacity of social justice community groups and researchers.
  1. A Public Showcase of final community projects at the end of the program in August 2022, celebrating the results of fellows’ work to date.

CMDT fellowships may be awarded to community organizers, small businesses and 501(c)(3)s located in Champaign County and committed to social and racial justice work in the community. Awardees do not need to have media/data/tech experience, only a willingness to learn and develop skills in these areas. Projects may be represented by an individual or cluster of up to three individuals, with a project lead designated in the application.

October 15, 2021: Applications due
November 15, 2021: Finalists are notified
December 2022: Fellowship orientation
January – May 2022: Workshop series and project implementation
June – July 2022: Project wrap-up and reporting
August 2022: Project Showcase

The fellowship is designed to support local community groups with the growing technology, digital media and data needs of organizations. Funds may be used for the development of either new or existing technology, media making, or data management projects within an organization, and for the advancement of existing technology/digital media and data management skills and capacities among organization members.

Supported projects will aim to support creative problem solving and spread promising ideas to the benefit of Champaign County’s most vulnerable community members. Fellowships will be awarded based on a project proposal’s potential impact and benefit to social justice ends, and based on a project’s projected ability to position, equip and connect organizations to more effectively lead for equitable change.

We are committed to advancing equity and social justice via the CMDT Fellowships, with a particular commitment to supporting efforts that move our region toward racial equity. 

Potential projects could be:

  • Constructing an educational video, community report, or educational toolkit that educates youth and community members about forms of digital inequity or surveillance in the community.
  • Building up an oral history digital archive and exhibition led by a community group to learn about issues or limits of solutions to racial equity.
  • Designing a new website (or portion of) or dataset, about a topic on economic and/or racial disparities historically ignored or misrepresented. 
  • Constructing a podcast or other digital media resource that extends the impact and audience of your organization’s work.

All projects could be opportunities to empower communities to imagine new futures under racial justice principles.

If you are selected as a fellow, we’ll create a series of workshops tailored for your needs that fellows will be required to attend.

We will ask you to share key lessons learned during our meetings as part of your interim and final reports. With your permission, portions of these reports will be shared publicly.


  1. Could the proposal have a transformative impact? We are looking for proposals with the greatest potential to make the region better for everyone. This could mean concepts that are big in scale or ideas that start small with the potential to grow and spread. We will favor ideas that will change systems to make the region more equitable in opportunities and outcomes, especially for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and/or people from rural communities.
  2. Is the plan strong? We will consider whether the plan is doable and whether it thoughtfully uses resources in a way that is likely to lead to success. We are looking for thoughtful consideration of how change can happen. Who is affected? Who has power? How will key stakeholders be engaged along the way? We will favor proposals that are truly inclusive and collaborative.
  3. Are the people leading the effort positioned to be successful? We will consider whether the people leading the effort have the support, relationships, experience and capacity to be successful. We want to support people who are learning and growing in their ability to advance equity, in particular racial equity, and work effectively across differences. We also consider whether they are committed to learning, improving and sharing what they learn with others. 

These are some potential project ideas that can serve as a reference and launch point for your proposal:

  • Project Launch
    • Is there something you’ve wanted to do but need a little support to make it happen? This is your opportunity, let us know what you’re planning in your application.
  • Website Building
    • If your organization is growing, either on- or off-line, you may be considering a more substantial web preference. It can be easy to use the big-box platforms like Facebook, but maybe you would like to have more control over your information and your interactions with your community. We can guide your organization through this process, no tech experience necessary. Your task is to demonstrate your organization’s need in the application and potential for impact via a new web interface.
  • Digital Storytelling
    • You might be working on one or more incredible projects, but you are having difficulties communicating the impact of this work to other institutions or funders. We’ll provide the conceptual and technical tools that will let you take control of the digital storytelling process. What story do you want to tell?
  • Community Surveying
    • Do you need to hear from your community? We’ll help you shape an effective and insightful community survey strategy.
  • Digital Equity or Surveillance Work
    • Are you interested in how big data or access to technology impacts your community? Let us know what kind of research or activism you have in mind. 

You will need to answer these prompts:

  1. Project lead name & contact info. If submitting on behalf of a group (we allow up to three individuals to apply together) one individual will need to be the project lead and recipient of the funding.
  2. Collaborator Introductions (500 words max). Describe the people leading this effort. What are their roles and relationships to the project or initiative? How will they work together?
  3. Project Description (500 words max). Be as specific as you can here. Please provide a list of the steps you intend to take.
  4. Project Location(s) (150 words max). Where will the proposed work take place (both on- and off-line)? Describe your relationship to the location(s).
  5. Organization structure. How many staff or volunteers do you work with? What were your total expenses and/or donations in your last fiscal year?
  1. We are committed to advancing racial equity in all our work. Please let us know if your organization is led by and for Black people, people of color, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, people from under-represented groups, and/or people from rural communities. 
  1. What is your proposal’s potential for impact? Describe your expected outcomes.
  1. Please briefly describe how you plan to use the funds allotted to further your project? Successful applications will be supported with $5,000 to complete their proposal and should budget for the full amount. We cannot accommodate alternative budgets.

Questions? Write to or call us at 217-333-1469.