Country: Variety of countries;

Deadline: 10.02.2020


Вertha Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the second Bertha Challenge: an opportunity for activists and investigative journalists to spend a year deep-diving into one pressing social justice challenge. Successful applicants will receive non-residential paid fellowships and project budgets to work independently and together to:

INVESTIGATE the causes of and solutions to the annual Bertha Challenge

AMPLIFY their findings to a wider targeted audience

CONNECT with diverse stakeholders for information, support and sustainable impact

The second Bertha Challenge will begin in July 2020 with a focus on our global climate and ecological crises, specifically supporting Bertha Fellows to answer the following question:

How is the relationship between profit and politics contributing to our interconnected climate and ecological crises and what can activists and investigative journalists do to address this?

Applications open on December 10, 2019 - International Human Rights Day - and close on February 10, 2020. Anyone meeting the selection criteria may apply.

Why Activists and Investigative Journalists?

The Bertha Challenge recognizes that investigative journalists and activists have distinct roles. This Challenge will offer the opportunity to engage with the complexity of the ecological and climate crises while strengthening relationships through shared work on the issue. In their fellowship year, Bertha Fellows will be expected to explore new ways of working collaboratively and outside their traditional silos while maintaining their integrity and autonomy.

Investigating and amplifying stories that expose injustice is increasingly achieved by work that cuts across organizations and professions. The scale and complexity of large investigative stories are often too intricate for one investigative journalist or activist, or even one newsroom or social justice movement, to handle alone. The Bertha Challenge will provide space for sixteen mid-career leaders in their fields to develop professionally while creating compelling work on the subject matter. It also aims to fuel debate and solidify networks that will last beyond the one-year project cycle. 

This second Bertha Challenge takes place against the backdrop of an unprecedented onslaught against science and progressive government public policies. Never before has humanity been so vulnerable to confirmation bias - the tendency to look for and only recognize evidence that confirms what we already believe. 

The Bertha Challenge seeks to foreground the climate and ecological crises' daily implications in cities, towns and villages and connect to its global causes. While much work has been done to find local and regional strategies to combat the crises, more effort is needed to bridge work between countries and regions and particularly between the Global North and South.

We recognize that activists and investigative journalists often do their work at great personal and professional risk. Global Witness recently reported that 164 environmental activists - mostly from the Global South - were murdered doing their work last year. The Guardian recently reported that the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded an unprecedented 13 journalists who were killed while working on environmental stories over the last 10 years. In this regard, we hope to explore ways to build solidarity and create more protections for activists and journalists through the connection and collaborations made during the Bertha Challenge fellowship year.