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The network was founded by 25 nonprofit news organizations at a summer 2009 conference organized by The Center for Public Integrity and The Center for Investigative Reporting. Those two organizations, along with the Investigative Reporting Workshop and ProPublica, had previously initiated a six-month collaborative pilot project.
The group was formed as a way for nonprofit investigative outlets to collaborate on anything from reporting to administration to fundraising. It was granted nonprofit 501(c)(3) status in March 2012 and began funding new investigative projects in 2013. It began doing paid consulting work in 2014, often web development through its CMS called Largo, based on the open-source Argo framework built by NPR.
In February 2010, it released its first collaborative report, on sexual assaults on college campuses. In June 2010, the network received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Knight Foundation and hired its first CEO. It also receives funding from several other foundations, including the McCormick Foundation and the William Penn Foundation, and from Voice of San Diego founder Buzz Woolley. The site excludes members that don’t publicly disclose all donors on their websites.
The network partnered with the Knight Foundation in 2014 to launch the INNovation Fund, with $1 million in Knight funding, to support experimentation in nonprofit journalism.
In May 2011, the network announced a content syndication deal with Thomson Reuters.
The St. Louis Beacon was a nonprofit online news organization that covers public affairs, health issues and the arts. It existed from 2008 through 2013, when it merged with St. Louis Public Radio. The Beacon was launched in 2008 by a group of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters and editors. Its initial funding was provided through…