Journalists, freelancers and members of the public can now apply for the Bureau Local's reporting fund to dig into untold or underreported issues in their communities.

Supported by Open Society Foundations and announced yesterday (21 February), the fund will pay around £1,000 for individual stories, although the amount can go up to £5,000 for more ambitious projects.

Successful applicants will also work with the Bureau Local team and network of 600+ members, and they will be considered for a free data training through a partnership with the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

In a post on the Bureau Local website, director Megan Lucero said the team is looking for pitches that are in the public interest and can resonate with other communities, based on "evidence collected from data and first-hand accounts".

While a background in journalism is not required, applicants should be existing members of the Bureau Local network or sign up as members prior to applying.

The grants are aimed at individuals not organisations, but local journalists who already work in a newsroom can also apply to have a data journalist or freelancer work with them on a story.

"We’ve heard members say things like: if only I had the time to pull together the data to dig into this or, if only I had the tech support, I could pull all my interviews into a powerful podcast or film. These are the kinds of projects we want to hear about," Lucero wrote in the announcement.

To apply, those interested should fill out an online form outlining the format of their idea, what it brings to the table, the resources needed to produce the story, and how they plan to work with the Bureau Local network on the project.

Applications for the first round of the grant are open until 7 March, and the team is hoping to select two projects which will aim to be completed by the end of June, when a second application round will open.

The stories will be published on the Bureau Local website and through partnerships with relevant local and national outlets.

The announcement comes only a few weeks after the Bureau Local held its second collaborative hack day, when more than 160 people in five UK cities came together to investigate local budgets.

"Our project is about trying to understand and contextualise what's happening," Megan Lucero, director of the Bureau Local, told in a recent podcast.

"Ultimately, journalism is a cultural force for good, and I think this also allows people to be a bit more open to it at the moment. You can commit an act of journalism by sitting through and helping out with whatever skillset you have, because you're trying to unearth something that's important and relevant to people in your community."

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