Apply now: FOIA Fest Boot Camp is now accepting applications

The Chicago Headline Club is now accepting applications for its 2023 FOIA Fest Boot Camp, continuing the  training program launched in 2021 and integrated into the annual FOIA Fest conference.

The Boot Camp is intended to support the work of early career journalists of color in Chicago and will partner reporters who have less than five years of industry experience with seasoned journalists who can offer concrete advice on how to use public records and structure an investigative project.

In addition to hands-on training and support, the Boot Camp includes free admission to FOIA Fest, the Headline Club’s hybrid conference on everything FOIA on March 11, 2023. Boot Camp participants will virtually meet with mentors four times as part of the program — once before the conference and three times after the conference. Folks local to Chicago who are comfortable with in-person meetings will also be able to meet during the conference. 

The program also includes a $200 stipend to help cover reporting costs and a one-year membership to SPJ, the Headline Club, and Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE).

While the Boot Camp is intended to support journalists of color, the program is open to all Chicago-based journalists with less than five years of professional industry experience. The program is willing to consider undergraduate seniors and graduate students on a case-by-case basis if they have significant reporting experience.

By participating in this program, mentors and mentees agree to abide by the SPJ Code of Ethics and the program’s Code of Conduct.

This year’s FOIA Fest Boot Camp will be led by Taylor Moore of the International Women’s Media Foundation and Jessica Villagomez of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Both Taylor and Jessica are Boot Camp alums.


DEADLINE EXTENDED: Applications due by February 12 at 11:59 pm CT

Please email Taylor Moore with any questions.


  • By February 24: Applicants will receive a decision on their application. Accepted mentees will be connected to their mentors.
  • Between March 7 and 9, to be scheduled: First Boot Camp meeting (virtual).
  • March 11: FOIA Fest (in-person), with time set aside for Boot Camp mentees and mentors.
  • Between March 15 to April 15, to be scheduled: Second, third and fourth Boot Camp meetings (virtual).

Past Cohorts

2022 Boot Camp Cohort | 2021 Boot Camp Cohort

2023 Mentors

  • Tony Briscoe, Los Angeles Times
  • Lakeidra Chavis, The Marshall Project
  • Vernal Coleman, ProPublica
  • Duaa Eldeib, ProPublica
  • Monica Eng, Axios Chicago
  • Emily Hoerner, Chicago Tribune
  • Alden Loury, WBEZ
  • Elvia Malagón, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Dan Mihalopoulos, WBEZ
  • Manny Ramos, Illinois Answers Project/BGA
  • Jared Rutecki, WTTW
  • Kristen Schorsch, WBEZ
  • Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat
  • Sam Stecklow, Invisible Institute
  • María Inés Zamudio, Center for Public Integrity

This program was created in 2021 by Chicago Headline Club board members María Inés Zamudio and Alejandra Cancino. This year’s Boot Camp is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Chicago Headline Club Foundation.