Meet the Experts Partnering with Elevate, ICFJ’s News Business Hub


Elevate, ICFJ’s news business hub, kicked off this month with a powerful set of implementing partners. The group of business leaders will focus on teaching 18 news media outlets chosen to participate in the program’s first cohort the most important skills to overcome their financial and operational challenges.

Elevate is divided into three phases: knowledge sprint, mentorship and grants. For each phase, ICFJ has picked the best experts available from its international network, including executives from the corporate world, technologists and top journalism trainers.

During the initial knowledge sprint stage, Elevate participants are taking four classes with Microsoft trainers and four classes with professors from Babson College Executive Education, the No. 1 institution for entrepreneurship according to several rankings.

Through the sessions with Babson College the participants will learn to link day-to-day business decisions to their finances and practice new techniques to be more innovative and creative in generating revenue and value for their businesses. The program sessions will also provide actionable ways to drive growth opportunities by setting objectives   as well helping to manage and build journalistic brands through marketing.

“The Elevate program is an exciting and innovative initiative, and the faculty and staff at Babson College are looking forward to assisting the diverse world-class participants with their opportunities and challenges to promote a real-time relevant and action-based classroom experience to drive the growth of their businesses,” said Dr. Mark Potter, professor of finance at Babson College and faculty director for Elevate.

From Microsoft’s master trainer Bill Monroe, the participants will receive a set of sessions on how to better use spreadsheets to gather, keep and understand data. The group will be fully trained on conditioning formulas, pivoting tables, and generating business charts. The goal is to help the beneficiaries understand the importance of using data to make smart business decisions.

In the upcoming weeks, Elevate’s participants will finish in-depth evaluations run by  Media Development Investment Fund, a nonprofit organization based in New York that has supported  independent journalism around the world since 1995. Through detailed interviews, MDIF’s specialists will collect information to fully understand the challenges for each organization. MDIF will generate individual reports that will not only support the mentor selection and match-making processes in July but also serve as a baseline to help measure the program’s impact at the end of 2022.

“Sustainable journalism models are a global challenge in today's media landscape, and there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. Each organization, market, region, and most importantly, each community served is different,” said Patricia Torres-Burd, managing director of media advisory services at MDIF. “The Elevate applicants are executing excellent work. They provide critical information and / or tools to better inform, a service that is vital to any community. However, most of the Elevate applicants are doing a lot with very little money and staff. We at Media Advisory Services / MDIF are proud to play a small role in this excellent accelerator towards sustainability for Elevate participants around the globe.”

Elevate’s monitoring and evaluation partner is Philliber Research, a group with more than 35 years of experience in M&E. Their specialists will work together with ICFJ staff throughout the year, running surveys and events to capture and measure the impact the program will have on the participating organizations.

Jeremy Caplan, director of training and learning at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, will meet with participants weekly to help them apply the skills taught by Babson College in their newsrooms. ICFJ aims to guarantee that Elevate’s first cohort overcomes the challenges revealed by MDIF, relying on a set of five-star specialists to do so.


Click here to read an interview with Patricia Torres-Burd.

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