Apply for Catalyst: AAJA’s Media Entrepreneurship Program


Applications are now open for Catalyst, a three-day boot camp for founders of color who want to learn how to fund and launch their own media products. The program is scheduled to take place November 9-11, 2017 at NYC’s Media Lab 2 MetroTech Center in Brooklyn, NY. 

We’re looking for people who are passionate about media and journalism, and who aspire to take their side hustles to the next level. Full-time and freelance journalists living in the US or abroad are encouraged to apply. If you're interested in being a part of the Catalyst class of 2017, please submit your application by 11:59pm PT on Friday, October 6. Applicants will be notified of their application status by mid-October.

While it costs nothing to apply, once you’re accepted into the program, there is a $400 program fee for AAJA members and $600 for non-AAJA members. If you’re not yet an AAJA member, you can register for an annual membership here. The program fee includes workshops, speaker panels, and one-on-one mentoring sessions where you will learn how to: 

  • Transform ideas into products

  • Develop strategies for finding product-market fit

  • Pitch angel investors and venture capitalists

  • Apply to incubators and accelerator programs

  • Navigate the foundation grantmaking process

  • And join a growing community of media investors, advisors, and founders of color

All meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, are included in the program. AAJA is also offering $500 travel stipends to a limited number of recipients. If you’re interested in a travel stipend, please fill out the “Optional: Travel Stipend” section at the bottom of the application.







Rebekah Monson is co-founder and VP of Product for WhereBy.Us, a local media startup that connects people to their cities through storytelling and experiences. Its publications, Miami’s The New Tropic and Seattle’s The Evergrey, produce email newsletters, original stories and events that reach more than a million curious locals each year. WhereBy.Us will scale to new markets in 2017. Previously, Rebekah worked in many journalism jobs and later ran communications at the University of Miami School of Communication, where she pursued an M.F.A. in Interactive Media. She co-founded Code for Miami and Hacks/Hackers Miami. She frequently speaks and trains about working at the intersection of technology, storytelling and civic engagement for professional journalism and technology organizations, governments and nonprofits.






John Mooney founded the news site NJ Spotlight in 2009 on the belief that New Jersey needed an independent news and information source that focused on public policy and politics. Previously, he covered education in New Jersey for 15 years as a reporter for The Newark Star-Ledger and The Bergen Record and as a contributing writer for The New York Times. He frequently is a guest on New Jersey public media, such as WHYY and WNYC public radio and New Jersey Public Television. He has won numerous state and national awards, including honors from the Online News Association, Education Writers Association and the American Society of News Editors. John speaks regularly at conferences and other events regarding new media, education, and politics. He lives in Montclair with his wife, an elementary school principal.






Hong Qu is an instructor at the CUNY School of Journalism.  As a member of YouTube’s founding team, he designed vital parts of the platform such as channels, homepage, playlists, and ads.  He has also played leadership roles at Upworthy as VP of Product and Fusion as CTO.  Hong has a Master's degree from UC Berkeley's School of Information and a Bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and was awarded a Nieman visiting fellowship for his research in breaking news technology.










Amy Chen is Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at NYC Media Lab where she focuses on the Lab’s early-stage accelerator program called The Combine. Previously, at the Lab, she was Manager of Partnerships and she was responsible for prototyping and innovation projects between the Lab’s corporate members and participating universities. Prior to joining NYC Media Lab, she was the Community Manager at the Urban Future Lab, a startup incubator focused on cleantech and smart city technology. She has also worked on civic technology initiatives when she was an Urban Fellow with NYC's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. She graduated with a BA in Economics from Barnard College and she is currently pursuing her MBA at NYU Stern.






Shawn Cheng is an early stage investor at TOG Angels. Previously he was the Principal at Vayner/RSE, Gary Vaynerchuk’s early stage venture capital firm focused on virtual reality, augmented reality, voice, consumer products and other frontier technologies. Shawn has spent his career helping brands and companies built, scale and innovate through digital strategy and marketing. At BBDO he helped to establish their first digital strategy department while running their innovation hub The Digital Lab. At Razorfish he drove performance marketing through paid media, search and emerging tech. Brands work included Mondelez, Lowe's, GE, Foot Locker, Victoria’s Secret and Starwood Hotels, and Charitywater. Originally from Los Gatos, California, he now lives in Brooklyn and is passionate about seeing technology used for good.






Glory Edim is the Publishing Outreach Specialist at Kickstarter, where she helps writers use the platform to build community and find support for their creative endeavors. She has worked as a creative strategist for over 10 years at startups and cultural institutions, including the Lincoln Theatre, The Webby Awards and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the founder of Well-Read Black Girl (WRBG), an online community that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood. WRBG’s mission is to increase the visibility of Black women writers and initiate meaningful conversation with readers. 






Corey Ford is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Matter, a start-up accelerator for entrepreneurs building scalable media ventures that create a more informed, empathetic, and inclusive society.  Matter invests seed capital and provides intensive support through a human-centered, prototype-driven start-up accelerator in San Francisco. Prior to Matter, Corey built Runway, a pre-team, pre-idea incubator for entrepreneurs at Innovation Endeavors. He also taught design thinking innovation at the Institute of Design at Stanford University, also known as the Corey began his career in public broadcasting managing the production of 17 films for the PBS/WGBH series FRONTLINE, winning an Emmy and a DuPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award. He earned an MBA at Stanford and was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill.






Priya Ganapati heads audience product for all Vox Media brands across all platforms. She has also worked on product at Quartz and the Wall Street Journal. Priya started her career as a technology reporter for Red Herring and been a staff writer for and Wired, where she covered consumer electronics and emerging technology. Priya has a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in electronics engineering from the University of Mumbai.







Justin Hendrix is Executive Director of NYC Media Lab, connecting media and tech companies with NYC universities to drive digital media innovation and entrepreneurship. Previously he was Vice President, Business Development & Innovation for The Economist. He holds a BA from the College of William & Mary and an MSc in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin.








Burt Herman is director of innovation projects for the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the parent organization of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Previously, he co-founded Storify, a social media storytelling platform used by top media organizations, brands and non-profit organizations that has won numerous awards for journalism innovation. Burt is also co-founder of Hacks/Hackers, the largest global grassroots movement bringing together journalists and technologists. In his earlier work as a journalist, Burt covered stories around the world for The Associated Press as a correspondent and bureau chief for 12 years. Burt was a 2009 Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, where he earlier graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.






Manami Kano is the Deputy Director, Global Media Partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, Manami oversees $25M in grants for media and journalism projects in the U.S., Europe, Africa and India to foster evidence-based public dialogue on global health, poverty and domestic education by supporting underreported stories and elevating diverse voices. She was also a Senior Program Officer in U.S. Programs focused on education. Before joining the Gates Foundation in 2008, Manami was Special Assistant to the director of National Programs at the Carnegie Corporation of NY working on education programs and policy.  Manami previously spent a decade leading and consulting for nonprofit organizations in the arts, media and social justice sectors.






Jim Kennedy is senior vice president, responsible for strategy and corporate development, for The Associated Press. He has been leading strategic planning for the world’s largest news organization since returning to AP in 2001 from The Wall Street Journal, where he was executive director of product planning for In an earlier stint with AP, Kennedy managed business news and financial services and later led the company's first digital unit, called Multimedia Services. While AP business news editor, he served as a board member and later president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the national association of financial journalists. He is a founding member of the Online News Association, a current board member of Digital Content Next and an advisory board member of Matter Ventures, a media startup accelerator. A native of Watertown, N.Y., Kennedy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College. 






Peter Koechley solves problems with words, video, technology, and passion. He’s been making important ideas irresistible for the last 15 years, first as managing editor of The Onion and co-creator of The Onion News Network, then through youth-vote outreach and viral video strategy at, and most recently by co-founding and scaling Upworthy to touch hundreds of millions of people every month with meaningful, surprising stories. Because we’re all part of the same story.







Brian Lam founded The Wirecutter, a product recommendation site that sold to the NYTimes in 2016. He was an editor at Wired Magazine and ran the gadget blog Gizmodo. He lives in Honolulu. 








Josh Lucido is the Director of Investments (NYC) for Matter Ventures. Matter is an SF & NYC-based startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supports early-stage entrepreneurs and mission-aligned media institutions building scalable ventures that make society more informed, inclusive, and empathetic. A New York City native, Josh joins Matter from Beautycon Media, a global community for content creators, where he was Director of Finance and Operations. He has a background in financial diligence, strategic negotiations, and startup operations. He has mentored entrepreneurs in the VR and entertainment/fintech spaces, and worked on business strategy with a mobile health startup in Kenya. Josh began his career in production for ABC News and the Directors Guild of America. He holds an MBA from MIT and an undergraduate degree from Vassar College.





Richard Lui has been named by Business Insider as one of 21 careers to watch alongside Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg. Over the course of 30 years, Lui has launched six techbology brands over three business cycles, most recently with an artifiical intelligence company in Silicon Valley. After MBA at Michigan Ross School of Business, he joined Citibank where he co-created a fintech payment model he holds a patent for. He was a management consultant at Mercer for an IBM joint venture. Lui sits on four boards of directors / advisers in spaces ranging from international relations to artificial intelligence.







Shazna Nessa is Deputy Managing Editor, Global Head of Visuals at the Wall Street Journal. Prior to that she was Director of Journalism at the Knight Foundation. She started her career in technology and design and later joined the Associated Press where she oversaw visuals, editorial products and innovation. She was an Executive Producer at Conde Nast and has taught both at CUNY and Columbia University. She was a 2014 JSK fellow at Stanford University.







Max Zimbert is a product manager at CNN Digital where he’s responsible for extending the news organization online. A former newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, Max began product management in 2013 when he co-created the award winning Yahoo News Digest app for iOS and Android. 











If you have any questions, please contact Daniel Garcia at