We have more education stories to tell in Idaho, and need your support. Here’s how to help

·3 min read

“I was so excited to read that the Statesman finally has a journalist who focuses on one of the most important topics we face, education. All of our futures are impacted by how well we educate future generations.”

That’s among the many encouraging comments our education reporter, Becca Savranksy, has received from Idaho Statesman readers since she joined our staff on June 1.

In less than five months, Becca has rebuilt the Statesman’s education beat and provided essential reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on schools; the debate over mask policies — and who is influencing them; and the education task force started by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.

Most notably, Becca gave students and educators — many of them people of color — a voice in the debate with her thoughtful stories on what they saw when McGeachin launched her task force searching for “indoctrination.”

And without philanthropic journalism, our readers wouldn’t have received those stories.

Becca joined us through a partnership with Report for America, which works to restore lost beats of public importance in newsrooms across the country. That mission also includes helping newsrooms learn to raise money to support their work — a necessary revenue stream as news organizations adjust to major hits to their long-standing revenue sources.

Report for America provides funding to cover 50% of the reporter’s salary in the first year — a number that drops in years two and three. By year four, the news outlet is expected to fully fund the position through its own fundraising.

Between fundraisers last fall and spring, Idaho Statesman readers contributed more than $17,000 toward the education reporter position.

We can’t thank our supporters enough for their donations — and we hope the coverage Becca has provided left you all with a sense of pride in what you’ve made possible.

This fall, we’re launching another fundraising campaign to ensure that our education reporter position becomes a fixture in our newsroom. You can make a tax-deductible donation at IdahoStatesman.com/donate, by texting Support the Statesman to 202-858-1233 or by mailing a check (see info at the end of this column).

We also plan to approach major donors with interest in Idaho education. The goal: Raise $100,000 to fully fund the education reporter position for the full three years of the RFA program — and build the road map for how we can make this a permanent, funded position.

It’s a critical time for education in Idaho — and this is a way we can highlight these issues without worrying about the economic viability of the position.

As one reader told Becca, parents want to be informed on what’s facing their schools: “You really did a wonderful job capturing the issues that all of us parents in the Treasure Valley are facing. Thank you for being our voice.”

Becca’s arrival coincided with a reinvestment in the Idaho Statesman newsroom by our parent company, McClatchy.

We have hired 11 journalists in 2021, with two more openings to fill.

For the first time since June 2019, all of our reporter positions were filled in September. We have 15 reporters, including a new growth and development beat, the return of the West Ada/Canyon County beat and a reloaded team of three investigative reporters (Hayat Norimine, Nicole Blanchard and Kevin Fixler).

We are a growing newsroom — soon, we’ll have 25 full-time journalists and one part-timer.

It’s been thrilling to reinvent our staff over the past 10 months, and to welcome the first full-time, philanthropy-funded journalist to our team.

With your support, we hope to make philanthropic journalism an integral part of our future.

Note: To help support our education reporting, make checks payable to Journalism Funding Partners (or “JFP”). Idaho Statesman must be included in the memo line. Please include an email address. The address is McClatchy, 1601 Alhambra Blvd., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Chadd Cripe has been the editor at the Idaho Statesman since March. He has worked at the Statesman for 25 years as a reporter and editor. Contact him at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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