INN Members to Collaborate on Examination of COVID-19’s Impact on Rural Education

Thanks to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, seven members of the Institute for Nonprofit News will spend the next six months examining how COVID-19 is changing the 2020-21 school year.

The members, Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, Iowa Watch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico In-Depth, Underscore and Wisconsin Watch, will each pursue stories in their local communities, but also look for parallels and similarities across state lines. We expect their stories will pay particular attention to the disproportionate impacts being felt by Spanish-speaking communities, Native American communities and people who live below the poverty line.

The reporting will be presented during three periods — one to coincide with the beginning of the academic year, another at the midpoint of the fall semester and a final set of stories near the end of the semester. The news organizations will publish via their own channels, and INN also will work to expand the reach of their reporting through its growing network of distribution partners as well as by outreach to other INN members and other publishers in relevant communities.

INN’s Sharon McGowan, a veteran editor and collaborations leader, will provide project management and support to the collaboration.

The project builds on several collaborations INN has done in the past examining challenges facing rural America, including "Seeking a Cure," which looked at the crisis facing rural hospitals, and "Slammed," examining how COVID-19 is putting increased pressure on the rural healthcare system.

“When our members work together, their already formidable work gets even stronger,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer. “This project is another example of the member-driven collaborations that INN supports, and we appreciate that the Walton Family Foundation has recognized the power this reporting can have in these local communities.”