The McGraw Fellows

Four veteran journalists have been named the latest recipients of the McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism. Each of the winning projects will receive a grant of up to $15,000.

The new Fall 2021 McGraw Fellows will explore subjects ranging from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s inequitable treatment of African American farmers and the growth of the “rent-to-own” housing market, to trends in overtime pay for U.S. employees and the difficulties migrant workers can face in receiving back wages they are owed.

The McGraw Fellowships, an initiative of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, were created in 2014 to support ambitious coverage of critical issues related to the U.S. economy and business. The Fellowships – awarded twice a year – enable experienced journalists to produce deeply reported works of investigative or enterprise business journalism. 

The first McGraw Fellows were named in July 2014; roughly 50 journalists have since won McGraw Fellowships. Nearly 100 journalists working on stories across a wide array of subjects applied for the latest round of the Fellowships. In addition to financial backing, the McGraw Center provides Fellows with editorial guidance and assistance in placing their stories with media outlets.

The next deadline to apply will be March 31, 2022. For more information, please consult the main McGraw Fellowship page and our FAQ. You’ll find examples of our previous Fellows’ published work on our Fellowship Stories page. 

The new McGraw Fellows for Fall 2021 are: 

Marcus Baram


A freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, NY, Baram will explore the evolution of the overtime wage rule in the United States in recent decades.

A longtime reporter and editor, Baram has written for The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe Village VoiceNew York magazine, and the New York Daily News. Currently, he edits and writes stories on income inequality and the powerful influence of the oil and gas industry for Capital & Main. Previously, he was a senior editor at Fast Company magazine, where he edited several award-winning feature stories, and worked as an editor at HuffPost and The New York Observer. His critically-acclaimed 2014 biography of the late Gil Scott-Heron, “Pieces of a Man,” was named a notable book by The New Yorker.

See Marcus’ Fellowship Stories

Rebecca Burns


An independent journalist based in Chicago, Burns will examine the role of institutional investors in the housing market and the growth of  the “rent-to-own” industry.

For the last decade, Burns has chronicled the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis in Chicago and nationwide. Her reporting on housing and finance has appeared in outlets including Bloomberg Green, the Chicago Reader, the Huffington Post and USA Today. Her investigation into the post-2008 return in Chicago of contract selling, an infamous form of predatory lending, won multiple local and national awards and contributed to the passage of new state regulations. Burns is also a contributing editor and former staff writer for In These Times magazine

See Rebecca’s Fellowship Stories

Beth Gardiner


A freelance environmental journalist based in London, Gardiner will use her Fellowship to report on the growth of the plastic and petrochemical industry.

Gardiner is the author of Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, named by the Guardian as one of 2019’s best books, and a finalist for the National Association of Science Writers’ Science in Society book award. Her work explores the ways health, equity, economic concerns and policy choices intersect in stories about the environment. Her reporting on air pollution’s dangers was the cover story of the April 2021 issue of National Geographic, and her writing has also appeared in publications including The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Washington PostHuffPostSmithsonian and Yale Environment 360. A two-time fellow of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Gardiner is a former longtime Associated Press writer.

See Beth’s Fellowship Stories

Daniel Penny


An independent journalist and critic based in Cambridge, UK, Penny will examine the economic and environmental effects of the flow of second hand clothes from the Global North to the Global South during his Fellowship.

A native New Yorker with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University, Penny recently left Brooklyn for the United Kingdom, where he is a tutor of Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. He has written about fashion, art, design, and other subjects for many outlets, including GQ, The Financial Times, and The New Yorker, where he was an editorial staff-member. Penny is currently at work on a book about the growth of men’s fashion, its causes and its consequences.


April Simpson


A senior reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, Simpson will examine how USDA lending practices have contributed to racial and economic inequality in farming communities.

Simpson joined Public Integrity in October 2020 to cover racial equity. She was previously the rural issues reporter at Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Before joining Pew, she was an associate editor at Current, where she covered public media and won recognition for her #MeToo investigation of a veteran reporter. Simpson was a U.S. Fulbright fellow in Botswana, an Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation and an Innovations in Food and Agriculture fellow with the National Press Foundation.

See April’s Fellowship Stories

Matt Stroud


A freelance journalist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Stroud will report on the spending habits and purchasing decisions of police departments in the United States.

Stroud is the author of “Thin Blue Lie: The Failure of High-Tech Policing,” which The New York Times called an “incisive, muckraking expose of the police industrial complex.” His six-part, investigative podcast, “Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment,” is in production to become a scripted television series. A former correspondent with Bloomberg News and The Associated Press, his investigative work on law enforcement and courts has unearthed secretive police surveillance programs, overturned murder convictions, and ousted CEOs, earning him numerous local and national awards for journalistic excellence.

See Matt’s Fellowship Stories


Tina Vasquez


A senior staff writer at The Counter, a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on investigative journalism and the business, politics, and culture of food, Vasquez will use her Fellowship to report on back wages that are owed to migrant workers.

Vasquez is a North Carolina-based journalist with more than 10 years of experience reporting on immigration, reproductive injustice, labor, food, and culture. She is the first immigration reporter for The Counter, where she is carving out a beat covering the intersections of migration, labor, gender, and food systems. In 2020, she was Type Investigations’  Ida B. Wells Southern Fellow. Her work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, Playboy, NPR, Bitch Magazine, Scalawag, and a variety of other publications.

See Tina’s Fellowship Stories