Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Fresno Bee has announced the launch of a new editorial initiative, Education Lab, which will focus on education issues critical to advancement of residents in the San Joaquin Valley.
Four journalists will join The Fresno Bee to employ solutions-oriented reporting and will organize community conversations to help elevate diverse voices and find a sustainable path toward greater educational outcomes, according to a news release from The Bee.
The initiative is funded by nonprofit groups and private donors at the local and state level and is inspired by a model created by The Seattle Times.
The San Joaquin Valley, along with suffering from high poverty rates and a number of socioeconomic pressures, faces chronic low educational attainment as one of its major problems. Fresno County schools fall short of statewide averages in several key metrics.
“We can do more as both a community and a news organization to help our neighbors in this Valley and I am grateful for the support of our donors who are making this groundbreaking initiative possible,” said Tim Ritchey, publisher of The Fresno Bee, in remarks today at the California Priorities summit on the Fresno State campus, which is the presenting sponsor of the education-focused event. “We know that increasing the number of college graduates in the area is key to economic mobility, and a healthier and stronger community. Through this initiative, we’ll help build a more engaged community, one that creates Fresno’s next generation of stakeholders, business leaders and public servants.”
The content produced by the Fresno Bee’s Education Lab will be shared with area news outlets and be published in Spanish online.
Founding contributors of the Education Lab include the Central Valley Community Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The California Endowment, Central Valley Foundation, State Center Community College District, and Fresno State, among others.
“The Central Valley Community Foundation is pleased to partner with The Fresno Bee through our Impact Media Fund in launching the Education Lab,” said Ashley Swearengin, president and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation and former Mayor of Fresno. “I can think of no more important issue for our region at this point in history than educating and investing in the youth of the Central Valley and their futures. Having a local media team dedicated to researching and reporting on our educational systems and the families they serve is a critical part of improving our communities.”