Kindle Project supports MuckRock’s work to open up Trump administration and private prisons

$10,000 grant will support broader public access to government records. Come help us!

Written by Michael Morisy
Edited by JPat Brown

MuckRock’s mission has been to make government more accountable and open to the people. For the past three years, that’s included a special focus on private prisons, and late last year we launched a project focused on the incoming Trump administration. Today, we’re excited to announce a $10,000 grant by the Kindle Project to further those missions, as well as a part-time opening to help build a community of FOIA enthusiasts.

You can also read more about the Kindle Project, whose generous supporters helped make these initiatives possible.

Two projects fighting for transparency

In 2014, MuckRock senior reporter Beryl Lipton launched the Private Prison Project, finding ways to work around the loopholes that left the public in the dark about how the face of incarceration was changing while showing the real costs behind these choices.

She’s filed hundreds of requests and published thousands of pages thanks to the project, and with the support of the Kindle Project, the Private Prison Project will be able to afford to pay request fees to ensure the public’s right to know.

We’ll also use some of the funding to make it easier dig into the data and documents while better understanding how these organizations operate.

The other half of the grant is in support of our efforts to help users FOIA the Trump administration. MuckRock has always helped our users aggressively and accurately covered the federal government, but with a new administration coming in, we saw an opportunity to try to better connect how FOIA can help reporters, researchers, and regular people better understand how changes at the top impact every facet of their lives.

To that end, we have a Trump FOIA project page, a Slack channel with over 3,000 registered members, and a database of over 500 public Trump-related FOIA requests.

This funding will go in support of those efforts, and we’re looking for creative ways to tap into and help build up the community of FOIA fans that have come together around the project. Our Slack chats have been popular, as have roundups of interesting FOIA requests. We have a (rare) part-time opening for someone interested in helping out in that mission.

You can help us build on this work by donating, applying for the opening below, or by sharing it with people you think would be a good fit.

MuckRock Community Engagement Opening

MuckRock is looking for a part-time (probably five hours/week) Community Engagement Coordinator. The ideal candidate has some interest and experience with FOIA and public records, get excited about transparency, and has done community engagement work before, whether professionally or for a cause you’re passionate about.

This person will help craft a strategy for building up the FOIA community through the use of our Slack channel (including running occasional Slack chats), project pages, articles rounding up interesting FOIA and public records stories related to the Trump administration, as well as thinking of new ways to engage on these issues through social media and our website.

The hours are flexible and remote applicants are encouraged (we’re based in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Pay is $13/hour.

Interested applicants should send a resume and brief description of why they are interested in the job and their ideas to make it succeed to info@muckrock.com.

This position is funded for six months, but we’d like to extend it beyond that as well as expand the responsibilities in the future.


Image via Kindle Project Facebook