CommonWealth magazine Will Provide More Investigative Reporting, Expand Online Presence with $800,000 in Support from The Boston Foundation and Knight Foundation

BOSTON — MassINC today launches a new online version of CommonWealth magazine, the most visible manifestation yet of an $800,000 investment by the Boston and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundations in expanding news coverage in Massachusetts. and will now offer a wealth of journalism and research to engage citizens and policymakers in the issues of the day.

The Boston Foundation gave MassINC $400,000 over two years to fund the new web platform as well as the build-out of CommonWealth’s investigative reporting unit. Knight Foundation matched that grant as part of its Knight Community Information Challenge, a five-year, $24 million initiative to help community foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged.

“Information is as important to a thriving democracy as clean air, jobs and schools. As leaders, local foundations like The Boston Foundation are taking the initiative to meet those information needs,” said Trabian Shorters, Knight Foundation’s vice president for communities, who leads the challenge. “This project helps ensure that everyone has the information necessary to make decisions about their governments and their lives.”

“Access to information and the ability to keep government accountable remain critical to a healthy and thriving civic life,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “The expansion of CommonWealth magazine into a significant, 21st century source of news and information, is a great example of the kind of the creative thinking needed to address this need and represents a significant investment by the Boston Foundation and the Knight Foundation in a critical resource for this community.”  

CommonWealth Magazine has traditionally been a quarterly print magazine published by MassINC, the nonpartisan public affairs think tank founded in 1996 to provide unbiased information about significant challenges facing the state of Massachusetts. The goal of the grant project was to expand CommonWealth from a print-based magazine to a print and online magazine with an emphasis on investigative and public affairs reporting. Features of the web magazine include:

  • Full Disclosure:  A web page within the site that links users to hard-to-access and often expensive public records
  • The What Works desk: specific reporting on programs and policies proven successful elsewhere in the country that could be replicated here.
  • The Civic Journalism Site: Dubbed “the page for Bay-state news junkies,” this micro-site invites journalists and media experts to comment on the impact of changes in the news industry and look ahead to what the future holds.

 “This prestigious partnership  – on both the local and national level – is particularly gratifying for MassINC in that it advances our agenda to provide a non-ideological platform for public affairs reporting and analysis, ” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and publisher of CommonWealth magazine.  “The impact of these grants is very real in terms of keeping our lawmakers accountable and our citizens informed.”  

About the Boston Foundation

The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of $695 million.  In Fiscal Year 2009, the Foundation and its donors made $86 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of over $72 million. The Foundation is made up of some 900 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.  For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit or call 617-338-1700.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit

About MassINC

The Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC) is a nonpartisan, evidence based organization. Its mission is to develop a public agenda for Massachusetts that promotes the growth and vitality of the middle class. Its governing philosophy is rooted in the ideals embodied in the American Dream: equality of opportunity, personal responsibility, and a strong commonwealth. MassINC publishes the quarterly journal, CommonWealth.


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