New Nonprofit Journalism Partnership Lifts Up Participatory Problem-Solving

Magic Cabinet and Proximate partner to produce solutions journalism on participatory grantmaking and other social sector innovations

Seattle, Washington – September 26, 2023 – Magic Cabinet, a philanthropic foundation committed to catalyzing social transformation, today announced a partnership with Proximate, an independent media startup that produces solutions journalism on community-driven models.

Proximate is a new nonprofit magazine that covers innovations in public participation and democratic governance. Their mission is to amplify and connect movements for participatory problem-solving, so that activists and institutional champions have the knowledge, voice, and connections to redesign systems to be more participatory.

“We believe Proximate’s mission of driving participatory problem-solving is important, and we are excited to work with them as they test new and innovative ways of producing solutions journalism,” said Christina Engel, Magic Cabinet’s CEO. “We are always looking for ways to champion and uplift the work of communities, and Proximate shares that goal.”

The partnership will center around the expansion of Proximate’s Grassroots Grantmaking vertical, a collection of stories that investigate innovative, participatory models in philanthropy that drive collaborative, trust-based practices. The partnership will also support Proximate as they pilot new types of series and formats, including thematic newsletters, paid columnists, and reporting fellows. 

“We share a belief with Proximate that traditional philanthropy too often takes a top-down approach, and lacks active engagement with community – which can limit long-term impact,” said Engel. “We also share a belief there are more effective, equitable models out there. We’re excited to partner with Proximate’s team as they create unique and valuable solution-oriented journalism that can drive forward philanthropic innovation.”

“We’re so excited to work with a values-aligned partner like Magic Cabinet,” said Ben Wrobel, Proximate co-founder. “They share a commitment to centering lived experience, and a focus on advocating for better practices at the systems-level. Their support will help us to produce original and timely solutions journalism that explores the promise and nuances of participatory problem-solving.”

Through the partnership, Magic Cabinet will support the cost of writers and other creatives, and provide seed funding for Proximate’s operations. The partnership comes in the wake of the announcement of $500 million in new funding for local journalism, Press Forward, a new initiative to strengthen communities and democracy by supporting local news and information. 

“We’re experiencing a crisis in news and information, which has led to the erosion of civic engagement and a decline in trust in institutions,” said Karen Toering, Magic Cabinet’s Director of Advocacy. “There is an urgent need to support independent news, and we’re excited to play a role by working with a new media outlet that upholds integrity in their work.”


About Magic Cabinet

Magic Cabinet is a philanthropic foundation that champions communities’ work by partnering with nonprofits and philanthropists to achieve community-led and defined impact. We do this through two paths; philanthropic partnerships aimed to release and accelerate funding into communities in addition to our multi-year participatory grantmaking model.

Magic Cabinet’s direct grantmaking centers and amplifies the work of community-driven organizations by offering collaborative multi-year capacity-building funding. This results in more equitable and well-resourced nonprofits and neighborhoods. Since 2019, Magic Cabinet has awarded over $45 million to nonprofits in Washington and California.

To learn more about Magic Cabinet and how we open new paths to philanthropy, visit:

About Proximate

Proximate is a new, not-for-profit media platform that asks the question: how can we better solve problems together?

Launched by the team behind the award-winning book Letting Go, our mission is to leverage bold, timely solutions journalism to celebrate and interrogate participatory-problem-solving models and practices, in order to inspire leaders across fields to embrace participation in governance.

Our vision is a world where systems are designed for people with lived experience to weigh in on the biggest problems facing their communities, from climate change to economic inequality. To learn more about Proximate, visit:


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