McGraw Center Announces Winter 2019 Fellows

  • By Ellen Lai

Three 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 McGraw Fellows will explore subjects ranging from the fight over water rights in California and the impact of industrial lead pollution on residents of urban neighborhoods, to the role of political machines in influencing the distribution of taxpayer funds.

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 new McGraw Fellows are:

Yvette Cabrera: An independent environmental reporter based in California’s Bay Area, Cabrera will use her Fellowship to investigate the legacy of industrial lead pollution in urban residential neighborhoods, as well as the policy decisions that have led to the environmental conditions and lead soil contamination faced by residents in these areas. Working at the intersection of criminal justice, immigration and environmental health, Cabrera examines systemic environmental issues unfolding in marginalized communities throughout the country. Most recently she worked as an environmental justice reporter for HuffPost, and as an investigative reporter for ThinkProgress in Washington D.C., where she published a five-part series showing how lead exposure is still harming children in complex ways. Prior to that she reported in Southern California, focusing on the policing and prosecution of California youth, with a reporting award from Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors, and on environmental justice issues as a community health reporting fellow for the International Center for Journalists.

Lauren Markham: A freelance reporter based in Berkeley, California, Markham’s Fellowship project will examine how dwindling water levels along California’s Feather River intersect with the region’s myriad financial interests.  A fifth-generation Californian, Markham’s work covers issues related to youth, migration, the environment and her home state. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in outlets such as Orion, Harper’s, The New Republic, Mother Jones, Pacific Standard, Guernica, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and VQR, where she is a Contributing Editor.  Her book “The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life” was named a 2017 New York Times Critics’ Pick, was awarded the Northern California Book Award, the Ridenhour Prize, and the California Book Award Silver Medal. In addition to writing, she has spent over a decade working with immigrant youth in California.  

Jeff Pillets: An investigative journalist based in Trenton, New Jersey, Pillets will team with WNYC, New York’s public radio station, and ProPublica to examine powerful political machines in New Jersey. The work builds on Jeff’s twenty years of experience covering state government and pay-to-play issues for The Record of Bergen County. In 2008, Pillets was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for revealing financial abuses that led to the collapse of a $1 billion brownfield project in the New Jersey Meadowlands. His work has won numerous other honors, including citations from the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Society of Environmental Journalists and the New York Deadline Club’s Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting.

Some 90 journalists working in nearly a dozen countries applied for the latest round of Fellowships. Each winning project receives funding up to $15,000. In addition to financial backing, the McGraw Center provides Fellows with editorial guidance and, where needed, assistance in placing their stories with media outlets.

Applications for McGraw Fellowships are considered twice a year. The next deadline for proposals is June 28, 2019. For more information and the online application, go to

The McGraw Center for Business Journalism was established in early 2014 by the family of the late Harold W. McGraw, Jr., former chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill and long-time publisher of BusinessWeek magazine. The Center is dedicated to enhancing the depth and quality of business news coverage through training, student scholarships, and support for veteran journalists.