The Esserman Family Fund for Investigative Journalism is being launched to honor and strengthen accountability reporting in South Florida by supporting the reporters whose work has the power to change laws and lives.


This initiative is a way to herald the importance of a free press and fortify the crucial role that journalism plays in ensuring democratic freedoms. Ron and Charlene Esserman and their family believe that amplifying the voices of journalists and their courageous work will keep the community focused on issues of injustice, suppression and corruption and galvanize all of us to stand up for change.


The fund supports both an annual prize for South Florida’s best accountability reporting and provides the funds to seed more investigative coverage through a year-long fellowship:

Ron and Charlene Esserman
Ron and Charlene Esserman

Esserman-Knight Journalism Prize

In partnership with Knight Foundation, the prize celebrates a journalist whose accountability reporting highlights issues, for example, of social justice, equality and intellectual freedom — values of critical importance to Ron and Charlene. Each year, $12,000 in awards will be given in May to the best South Florida reporting that holds the powerful to account. Journalists who cover Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties are eligible to apply. Learn more and apply by April 21, 2020.


Esserman Investigative Journalism Fellowship

Offered initially at The Miami Herald, the fellowship provides $50,000 per year for an investigative journalism position for an early-career reporter. Learn more and apply.

“We feel a free press is essential for our democracy and for the community we love – and yet it is in peril. We hope the fund can provide resources to ensure South Florida’s tradition in investigative journalism lives on, while catalyzing other donors to join in with additional support.” – Charlene Esserman

About Ron and Charlene Esserman:

After the couple moved to Miami from Chicago in 1968, Ron built a network of businesses in South Florida in the automotive industry, heralded for his focus on quality and integrity. Ron brought humanism to his workplace and invested in the advancement and well-being of his employees. Ron and Charlene also supported many community causes, establishing organizations that contributed to the cultural health and well-being of Miami-Dade County. They helped establish Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate Foundation, and shaped the Miami City Ballet, the Florida Grand Opera and the Arsht Center. Throughout their lives, they have been engaged in the political process and supported candidates and causes that focused on guaranteeing free speech, equality for all, quality education and access to resources to enable everyone to have a chance to build a better life.

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