Sylvester Stein Fellowship Grant 2023

Deepening impact for human rights in southern Africa through investigative journalism and partnership

Read about the Sylvester Stein Fellowship here

In 2023, the Sylvester Stein Fellowship will continue to support investigative journalism reportage in southern Africa, but it will go about that project in a slightly different way, by simultaneously supporting the important work of alumni and scholars practicing law in the public interest or defending human or environmental rights in southern Africa.

How will it achieve this? Through this application process, we will link advocates and activists from our network with access to investigative journalism reportage that will shine a light on the work they are doing, work that is in the public interest to know about.

This media investigation grant opportunity will be used to directly fund the work of an investigative journalist, who collaborates with the Canon Collins lawyer OR activist in bringing the case to light. The lawyer or activist does not receive the funds. The Canon Collins Trust administers the grant directly to the journalist or journalist organisation or company, and the journalist then collaborates with the legal practitioner or human rights activist.

Eligibility Criteria

The applicant must be

  • a former recipient of a Canon Collins scholarship or a current recipient of a Canon Collins scholarship in the working world.
  • a lawyer whose case is human rights focused/in the public interest or an activist involved in a campaign that is concerned with either social justice (including human rights) or climate justice.
  • The grant must be used to amplify a current human rights-related legal case in southern Africa (Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola) through reportage developed by an investigative journalist (and team), with the cooperation of the lawyer or activist.
  • The journalist independently brings to light the details of the case through content distributed widely and published in the news media.
  • It should be in the best interest of the general public to be made aware of the case and the context of the case.
  • The case may be ongoing, but it should be at a place where a 3-month investigative journalism project should be sufficient to create sound and well-researched reportage that can be published.

How will it work?

Apply for the grant by 6 October 2023 5pm SAST.

In the form, you will

  • Detail the case you would like the grant to support, outlining the stage of the case before the court as well as any relevant dates in the near future.
  • Outline the kind of documentation and support you will offer the journalist.
  • Explain how the reportage will benefit your work and its aims.
  • Explain how the reportage will support the public interest.
  • Explain how the public (persons or institutions) may choose to get involved should they wish.


Selection Process

It is important that the grant supports the capacity building of investigative and independent journalism in southern Africa. We therefore propose to involve the Investigative Journalism Hub (IJ Hub) – a South African not for profit media institution who Canon Collins Trust has partnered with over the last three years. The IJ Hub builds investigative journalism in the SADC region of southern Africa in the service of a free, capable media and open, accountable democracy.

A shortlist of proposals will be selected internally and passed to SA-based non-profit the Investigative Journalist Hub (IJ Hub). In consultation with us, the IJ Hub will select the winning grant – their media expertise will be vital in making a selection of a legal case/story that is most news ready and newsworthy.

Grant Administration

IJ Hub will identify an accredited, experienced and respected investigative journalist to cover it. That journalist receives the Sylvester Stein Fellowship Award of $3,000, submitting monthly short reports for the duration of the project and a final evaluation report at the end.

The Canon Collins Trust will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the journalist or the organisation the journalist is employed by. Disbursement of the grant is directly to the journalist or the organisation the journalist is employed by.

  • The funds are discretionary and can be used to cover costs. However, the journalist needs to be based in the same place (city/district/area) as the case.
  • The journalist will cooperate with the successful grant applicant but work independently.

What will the journalist produce

The reportage will be independently produced and include but not be limited to:

    • A series of articles exposing the human rights issue, with a minimum of two and a maximum of five.
    • Original photography, audio and video footage captured by the journalist and their team.
    • Publication in the country of the investigation as well as syndication/distribution to the region, continent and internationally.

Important Dates

  • The fund opens for applications: 11 September 2023
  • The fund closes for applications: 6 October 2023
  • We will announce the 2023 Sylvester Stein fellow on 31 October 2023


Got Questions?
A QnA for anyone interested in applying to the Sylvester Stein Fellowship this year
This is a brand new initiative, and can seem complex. On the 21st of September at 4pm for 45 minutes, we will take your questions and help with any clarity you may need.
Register →