2024 FOIA Fest Bootcamp applications now open

Applications due by February 18 at 11:59 pm CT.

The Chicago Headline Club is now accepting applications for its 2024 FOIA Fest Boot Camp, a training program for Chicago-based reporters from marginalized communities to help them navigate accountability journalism — from story-idea to publishing. The training focuses on collective learning, best journalism practices and resources on how to stay grounded during long investigations. It is designed for early-career journalists with at least three years of professional journalism experience. The journalists will receive specialized training and mentoring from 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 day-long conference on everything FOIA. Participants will meet in-person twice, including at the conference, and virtually three times. The program also includes a $500-stipend to help cover reporting costs.

This year’s FOIA Fest Boot Camp is being led by investigative reporters and Boot Camp founders Alejandra Cancino and María Inés Zamudio. Last year, the program was led by Taylor Moore of the International Women’s Media Foundation and Jessica Villagomez of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. An earlier cohort was led by Maya Dukmasova of Injustice Watch and Nader Issa of the Sun-Times. The program launched in 2021.

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

Applications due by February 18 at 11:59 pm CT


Note: The Boot Camp is intended to support journalists of color, but it is open to all Chicago-based journalists with at least three years of professional industry experience. 


  • March 1: Applicants will be notified of whether they were selected for the program.
  • March 16: Day-long FOIAfest conference + first Boot Camp meeting (8-6 p.m., in person)
  • March 18: Writing for each stage of the investigation (5-7 p.m.; virtual)
  • March 25: Organizing for fact-checking and bulletproofing (5-7 p.m., virtual)
  • April 1: How to get published (5-7 p.m., virtual)
  • April 8: Final meeting (details to be shared with fellows; In person)

Past Cohorts 2023 Boot Camp Cohort | 2022 Boot Camp Cohort | 2021 Boot Camp Cohort