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The Fresno Bee Launches an Ambitious Editorial Initiative Focused on Education Issues Critical to the Advancement of the Fresno Community
Four Journalists Will Be Hired to Cover Education in the San Joaquin Valley and Forums Will Be Held to Elevate Diverse Community Voices

FRESNO, Calif., Sept. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --  The Fresno Bee announces the launch of the Education Lab, an ambitious editorial initiative focusing on education issues critical to the advancement of residents in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley.

The Education Lab at The Fresno Bee

Four journalists will join The Bee to cover the topic of education in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley. They will employ solutions-oriented reporting and will convene community conversations in an effort to elevate diverse voices and find a sustainable path toward greater educational outcomes. The Education Lab is funded by nonprofit organizations and private donors at the local and state level.

Chronic low educational attainment is one of the leading problems facing the San Joaquin Valley, which also suffers from high poverty rates and a complex web of socioeconomic pressures. From pre-kindergarten to higher education, Fresno County schools trail 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 campus of California State University, Fresno, 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 Education Lab was built in collaboration with the community, with input from dozens of stakeholders and via listening sessions hosted by The Fresno Bee. All of the content produced by The Fresno Bee'sEducation Lab will be shared with area news outlets and also be published in Spanish online. The Education Lab is inspired by a model created by The Seattle Times.

"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."

Founding contributors of the Education Lab include, Central Valley Community Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The California Endowment, Central Valley Foundation, State Center Community College District, California State University, Fresno, Murray and Francine Farber, Paul Gibson and Joan Eaton, and Pete Weber.

The Fresno Bee is currently recruiting new hires for the lab. It will assign one reporter to cover higher education and another to report on early education. They will be joined by an engagement reporter and an editor who will lead strategy, edit stories and oversee the team. The entire team will publish two to four stories a week, and one weekly enterprise project.  

Joe Kieta, editor of The Fresno Bee added, "The Education Lab is an exciting expansion of our existing education coverage. The mission of the new team is to make education in the Valley a priority by taking a focused look at what's working and what's not. We also aim to create more community engagement around this important topic, elevating voices we previously have not had the resources to share, and making key connections among stakeholders."

"The Fresno Bee and its parent McClatchy have deep roots in the Central Valley spanning more than a century," said Lauren Gustus, regional editor for McClatchy's 10 news organizations in California, Idaho and Washington state. "Our steadfast commitment to local journalism and the role it plays in helping communities thrive is a mission that animates the work of its 30 newsrooms across the country."

The Education Lab editorial team will:

  • Spotlight stories about access to educational resources beginning in early childhood through college.
  • Recognize and celebrate progress in the Valley's educational systems.
  • Examine challenges and roadblocks in the educational system.
  • Create a conversation among students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley

"Public awareness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by K-12 schools and higher education institutions serve as a foundation for support of our mission of boldly educating and empowering generations of future Valley leaders," said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro.

Support for the Lab goes toward salaries and benefits of the four journalists hired to work on this initiative as well as engagement efforts. The Central Valley Community Foundation is the fiscal sponsor for The Education Lab as part of its Impact Media Fund. Donations to this inaugural  effort in Fresno are welcome and can be made online here.

About McClatchy
McClatchy operates 30 media companies in 14 states, providing each of its communities with strong independent local journalism in the public interest and advertising services in a wide array of digital and print formats. McClatchy publishes iconic local brands including the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh)News & Observer, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., and listed on the New York Stock Exchange American under the symbol MNI. #ReadLocal

Contact: Jeanne Segal
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SOURCE McClatchy