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Congratulations to the 2020 Passion Project grant winners

The Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington and Northwest Journalists of Color are pleased to announce the 2020 Passion Project visual journalism grant winners. 

Judges Bethany Mollenkof, independent filmmaker and photographer in Los Angeles, California, Shweta Gulati, National Geographic mobile storytelling producer in Washington, D.C., and Marlena Sloss, photojournalist at The Dubois County Herald in Jasper, Indiana provided feedback on the winning proposals. 

Ryan T. Bell

First place $1500 SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant

Ryan T. Bell plans to share how low-income families in rural Washington scavenge for roadkill as an affordable and healthy source of food. “My aim for this project is to show the general public the lengths some low-income families must go to put meat on their tables,” said Bell, in his proposal. “That goal is made all the more timely by the COVID pandemic, which will likely push not only low-income, but also medium-income families to the brink of economic viability.”

Judges: We found this project to be a unique and timely perspective on the topic of food insecurity. Ryan showed that he has both the access to the families who harvest roadkill and the photography experience to accomplish his plans.


Karen Ducey 

Second place $1,000 SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant

During the coronavirus pandemic, Karen Ducey seeks to document the social, economic, health and cultural issues challenging the Chinatown-International District community in Seattle. She said the project, “…Aims to bring forward the people impacted and those on the front lines; highlight the stories, work and challenges; and illustrate what it means to be part of this community, at this specific time.”

Judges: Karen’s proposal demonstrated the passion and research to continue documenting the issues challenging the Chinatown-International District.


Chloe Collyer 

First place $1,500 Northwest Journalists of Color/ SPJ Wash Passion Projects Grant 

Chloe Collyer will work on a project publicizing issues that motivate young, politically-active groups in Washington state. Through portraits and personal testimony, Collyer will share perspectives of an emerging generation of politically-conscious youth. “More recently we’ve seen youth activists take a seat at the table like never before and as the rates of school shootings and youth incarceration rise, so do the voices of a younger generation,” said Collyer, in their proposal. 

Judges: Chloe’s proposal was clear, well-researched, and demonstrated their passion and motivation to complete the work. We are interested to see how COVID-19 might play into the activists’ stories as they continue this project.


Soumita Bhattacharya 

Second Place –  $1,000 Northwest Journalists of Color/ SPJ Wash Passion Projects Grant 

Soumita Bhattacharya’s multimedia documentary project,  ‘Someone Like Me,’ focuses on the, “…Unique journeys of immigrant women of color who fight great odds to represent the residents of Washington State who look like them, in elected office.” Bhattacharya has spent a considerable amount of time during the 2019 election season working on a story about Redmond Councilmember Varisha Khan. “The grant award will help me dedicate more time on this project and collaborate with an editor to develop a short video doc,” she wrote, in her proposal. “Ultimately, I visualize the project as a multimedia web doc with photos, videos and text, illustrating the stories of multiple women of color in politics.”

Judges: Soumita’s passion for this story is compelling. Her proposal has clear structure for what she will produce, and shows the research needed to continue the work.

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