Bertha Challenge Fellowship 2021 for Activists and Investigative Journalists

Deadline: 3 July 2021
Open to:
activists and mid-career journalists with at least five years experience 
fully funded


Applications for the Bertha Challenge Fellowship 2021 are now open. The Bertha Challenge is an opportunity for activists and investigative journalists to spend a year producing a body of work that responds to one pressing social justice challenge.

The third Bertha Challenge will begin in January 2022 with a focus on water, specifically supporting Bertha Fellows to answer the following question: How is the relationship between politics and profit contributing to the degradation and loss of our freshwater and oceans, and what can be done to ensure equitable access and protection of these finite resources for people and planet?


For Activists

  • At least five years experience working with activists, social movements, grassroots and community organisations, social justice organisations and campaigns.
  • Strong connections to a diverse rang of groups working in support of fair and sustainable water management in the fellow’s city, country or region including with social movements, community organisations, NGOs, academics, journalists, progressive government officials etc;
  • Experience on developing organising tools or popular educational products and materials, including training courses, publications, pamphlets, films, podcasts, arts, theater productions, etc.;
  • Experience in using research, media and the law in advocacy;
  • Affiliation to an appropriate host organisation to amplify work produced during the Bertha challenge.

For Investigative Journalists

  • Open to mid-career journalists with at least five years experience and a track record and passion for doing investigative journalism;
  • Strong connections to a diverse rang of people or groups working for fair and sustainable water management, including social movements, community organisations, NGOs, academics, scientists, etc.;
  • Research ability, comprehensive understanding of the political landscape concerning the subject matter, understanding of the law(s) and political structures determining policy direction and power and the ability to work independently;
  • Affiliation to an appropriate host media organisation that could publish/broadcast work produced during the Bertha challenge.


  • Income for each Bertha Fellow for one year, not exceeding USD 62,400 and commensurate with the applicant’s current or equivalent salary at the host organization – ideally a media outlet for an investigative journalist and an NGO, community organization or social movement for an activist.
  • A Project Fund of up to USD 10,000 for each Bertha Fellow to produce a culminating product that responds to the question posed by the Bertha Challenge, and that is directed towards a specific audience. This could be, for example, a series of articles, videos, podcasts, games or drama productions. Activists and journalists working as a pair will have the option to pool their project funding to produce projects on a larger scale.
  • A Connect Fund of to USD 5,000 for each Bertha Fellow specifically designed to encourage collaboration between Fellows.
  • Regular online discussions with topics on a range of issues from current debates around water preservation to methods of investigation, methods of communicating findings through news media, storytelling, popular education and more.
  • Peer and mentor support in the form of regular virtual check-ins with Bertha staff and a cohort of Bertha Fellows.
  • Network development through the global cohort of past and present Bertha Fellows and exposure to relevant partners within and beyond the Bertha network, including their legal partners in the Bertha Justice Network, many of whom are at the forefront of creating legal strategies to address the climate crisis.
  • Global convenings of Bertha Fellows and selected guests at the start (January 2022) and end (December 2022) of the Bertha Challenge.


This is a full-time fellowship. Bertha Fellows will spend the majority of their time working in their home countries and be required to:

  • Attend in-person global convenings that take place at the beginning and end of the Bertha Challenge
  • Develop and deliver a culminating product that responds to the Bertha Challenge question
  • Participate in two virtual meetings per month, and occasionally facilitate these meetings
  • Develop local and global network relationships.

How to apply

All applicants must submit:

  • A completed online application form.
  • A brief resume/CV in English of no more than three pages.
  • A list of 2-4 referees including name, relationship to applicant and contact details.
  • A signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from your prospective host organization – including commensurate salary and any benefits provided.
  • Journalist applicants are also asked to submit examples of previously published work.

Complete the application as it applies to you:

For more information, please visit the official webpage.