Forum Freelance Fund


Five 2015 winners announced July 27 for these bursaries.

Canadian-based HEAT course provider Tundra Group has been added to our approved list. 

In 2015, in addition to our regular bursary streams, we were pleased to introduce a new award: The Portenier Human Rights Bursary.


Our release on the 2015 bursary winners can be read here in English or in French

The Portentier Human Rights Bursary, sponsored by Giselle Portenier, is open to freelance journalists or independent documentary-makers with projects focusing on human rights abuses. The winner will receive up to $3,000 for hazardous environment training, and the competition is open to people of any nationality, with no requirement for a Canadian connection. See the new appendix to the FFF rules for details.

The Portenier is the first bursary to be offered in our new Stream C. Applicants for the Portenier who also meet the qualifications for Streams A and B, may apply in one of those streams as well, but no one will receive more than one FFF bursary.

This is the fifth annual FFF competition. Last year eight bursaries were awarded. 

“Cash-strapped media organizations are relying more and more on freelancers for coverage from the world’s most dangerous places,” said Forum president Cliff Lonsdale.

“The Forum doesn’t encourage freelancers to put themselves in danger – but danger has a habit of finding journalists in many parts of the world, and freelancers are at greater risk than most staffers because they have fewer supports. The training these bursaries help to provide significantly improves the odds.”  

In February, the Forum joined more than two dozen prominent news organizations and advocacy groups subscribing to a declaration of Global Safety Principles and Practices.

The Forum Freelance Fund provides bursaries of up to CDN $2,500 to help Canadian freelancers attend hazardous environment safety training courses. Approved courses are now available in Canada, the United States, Britain and occasionally Kenya. Foreign freelancers doing work for Canadian media or foreign media with a bureau presence in Canada are also eligible.

The 2015 competition will be held, for the fourth year running, in cooperation with Rory Peck Trust (RPT) which may, in its sole discretion, grant additional bursaries to successful candidates. Forum Freelance Fund (FFF) applications are assessed each year by an independent panel, including a representative of RPT. 

Qualified applicants for our regular FFF bursaries must chose between Streams A and B, and state that choice on their application form.

Applicants selecting stream A contend for bursaries of up to $2,500 to attend courses provided commercially by AKE, Centurion, 1st Options SecurityGlobal Journalist Security, Pilgrims Group, Remote Trauma, Tundra Group or TYR Solutions. These courses typically run 4 to 5 days.

The list of course providers is reviewed each year. 

While costs vary, these courses are more expensive, and in some cases longer, than the ones in Stream B. Courses are held on numerous dates and in various locations throughout the year. Successful applicants secure a place on the course of their choice, by the approved provider of their choice. Normally, the course must begin within 9 months.

Applicants selecting stream B contend for bursaries of up to $1,000 to attend special 4-day courses for freelancers and others at Columbia Journalism School in New York, now held once in October and once in April. These courses, Reporting Safely in Crisis Zones, have  significantly lower fees. Successful applicants must also apply to and be accepted by Columbia. Click here for more.

Course providers in each stream will offer discounts of at least 5% on published fees, the benefit of which will be given to bursary winners. In some cases in stream A, the discount offered may be significantly higher. 

Additional bursaries from RPT may be available to applicants in both streams, at the sole discretion of the Trust. Applicants in Stream A should wait to be invited to apply by RPT. Applicants in Stream B should follow the application instructions on the course website.

Bursaries from RPT can be applied to course fees only. Bursaries from the Forum Freelance Fund may be applied to course fees, travel and accommodation costs. The Forum Freelance Fund may set a maximum for travel and accommodation costs in its sole discretion on a case-by-case basis.

Recipients of bursaries from The Rory Peck Trust must comply with all of RPT's conditions. Any bursaries granted by RPT will not be channeled through the Forum Freelance Fund. 

Those considering applying should first read the rules of the competition - in English or French. These rules and the list of approved course providers may be adjusted from time.  

The 2015 competition is closed. We have removed the link to the application form. Please watch for announcements about the 2016 competition, for which the rules will be adjusted. 

You can read our media release about the 2015 competition here

You may also click to read about the winners in 2014  and 2013. 


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 Photo (top of page) by Lindsay Mackenzie. Many thanks to Columbia School of Journalism.