ANNUAL REPORT 2020

A year when on-the-ground journalism mattered more than ever.

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Journalism is vital to our health, our democracies, and our communities.

Since our inception, The GroundTruth Project, home to Report for America, has worked to restore journalism from the ground up. And 2020 demanded more of us and our partners in every way.

Faced with a global pandemic and a reckoning on racial justice in the U.S., our reporters were on the frontlines showing up for their communities every day. We met the moment, growing our programs and operations by 400% in 2020 to train and support more emerging journalists than ever before.

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In 2020, we supported nearly 300 emerging journalists in 14 countries, 48 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, producing more than 11,000 stories.

And we’re staying steady on the course.

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On The Ground

In 14 countries, 48 states, Washington D.C. & Puerto Rico
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Nebraska
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What is driving gun violence in KC? The community answer: Lack of trust in police

In their first story as part of their work on the Gun Violence Project at The Kansas City Star, Humera and Jelani spent months interviewing residents, speaking with experts and analyzing data to understand how the city’s policing problems are driving gun violence. Their reporting shows that people were Tased, beaten and arrested without reason. In some cases, mothers  have had to fight to ensure their children’s homicide cases are investigated, and for charges to be brought against the people who killed them.

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South Carolina
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West Virginia
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Virginia
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Iowa
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Maryland
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Arkansas
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Rhode Island
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Vermont
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Nursing homes receive loads of defective equipment from FEMA

Massive amounts of defective personal protective equipment sent to New Hampshire nursing homes by FEMA — like isolation gowns without armholes, extra small gloves, and masks with dysfunctional ear loops — have gone unused. Eighty percent of New Hampshire’s total COVID-19 deaths so far have been residents of nursing homes. It is one of several states to report problems with equipment sent by FEMA. “[The defective PPE] is basically representative that they’re treating health care workers like garbage,” said Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association.

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Pennsylvania
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Delaware
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South Dakota
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Alaska
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Georgia
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Kansas
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Indiana
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Minnesota
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Arizona
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Black Mental Health Care Providers Are Greatly Underrepresented in Oregon

For communities of color, a culturally specific therapist is crucial because many of the issues they face are a direct result of racism and other oppressive factors such as high poverty rates. OHA health assessments show that those in poverty and with other disadvantages are more likely to experience mental distress.

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Ohio
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Oklahoma
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Colorado
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Nevada
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Washington D.C.
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An environmental tragedy on the Greek island of 50,000 goats

A relatively small island of 68 square miles, Samothraki has mostly escaped the attention of mass tourism and is home to less than 3,000 inhabitants. Strangely, it also hosts a staggering 50,000 goats, most of which are “semi-wild” and roam freely. The results of this ecological imbalance, fueled by questionable governmental and local decisions, are coming back to haunt the people of Samothraki in a dramatic fashion.

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The Netherlands
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Mexico
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South Korea
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Belgium
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‘May tulips grow from your blood’: Of martyrdom and identity in Iran

The sites of the First Gulf War, officially termed the “Holy Defense,” have been turned into memorial theme parks. It is part of the Iranian collective memory that once children crawled there in mine fields. Now, people visit these parks on sponsored trips to pay tribute to martyrdom.

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Indonesia
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Spain
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China
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Puerto Rico
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Oregon
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Down for the Count

The U.S. 2020 Census puts more than $1.5 trillion in federal funds up for grabs, with money for food assistance, childcare, Medicaid and many other services dependent on an accurate count. Small cities like Lordsburg, New Mexico, are often the toughest to survey, and they will bear the brunt of the U.S. Census Bureau ending its data collection efforts a full month earlier than expected. New Mexico misses out on $3,700 in federal funds per year for every person who doesn’t get counted. For Lordsburg, a massive undercount could mean the beginning of the end.

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Tennessee
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Wisconsin
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Montana
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North Dakota
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Wyoming
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Ahead of the U.S. election, Miami Nicaraguans vote with their old home in mind

Voters like Mercado and Díaz belong to the non-Cuban Hispanic demographic in Florida, which makes up roughly 70% of eligible Latino voters in Florida, according to Census data from 2018. They have roots in Nicaragua and across Latin America. They are also part of Florida’s crucial independent swing voters, because many Nicaraguans and others in the Hispanic and Latino population do not identify with either Republicans or Democrats.

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Massachusetts
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Louisiana
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Hawaii
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Connecticut
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Illinois
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Utah
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New York
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Washington
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Michigan
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Mississippi
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North Carolina
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Kentucky
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Israel/Palestine
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Idaho
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Texas
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In San Diego, Black Muslims are working to expand voting access in jails

During the months Jackson spent in custody at San Diego Central Jail and George Bailey Detention Facility, he registered about 200 of his fellow inmates to vote ahead of the 2018 municipal elections. Nearly all, he said, were surprised to learn that Californians in pretrial incarceration can legally vote, or that their votes for city council members or judges could affect their own futures.

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Maine
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How India’s citizenship law and national registry exploit religion to discriminate against Muslims

For more than a month, India has been awash with protests. Triggered by the December 12 passage of the highly contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students, have taken to the streets in defiance of the latest in a string of anti-Muslim policies rolled out by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

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For Italy’s Muslims, few mosques to pray and fewer places to bury COVID-19 dead

While Jawad’s family was unable to provide his grandparents with a traditional Islamic funeral due to Italy’s lockdown measures, they had the rare luxury, for Italian Muslims, to be buried in an Islamic cemetery. Before the pandemic struck, fewer than 60 of Italy’s 7,903 municipalities had a dedicated Islamic cemetery, in a country that is home to more than 2 million Muslims.

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Rwanda
Report
for
America
Local journalism, national service

COVID-19 cases were spiking nationwide, George Floyd had just been murdered, and concerns about the security of our election were in question. Our 226 Report for America corps members were on the ground and ready to serve.

COVID-19 cases were spiking nationwide, George Floyd had just been murdered, and concerns about the security of our election were in question. Our 226 Report for America corps members were on the ground and ready to serve.

A rapidly growing corps

3 in 2017
11 in 2018
59 in 2019
226 in 2020
300 in 2021
1,000 in 2024
3 Reporters in 2017 to 1,000 in 2024
We are taking on news deserts at scale
61%
more funding per reporter raised by newsroom partners year over year
42%
corps members identify as people of color
50%
corps members serving in states they call home
90%
first-year corps members renewed
$4.6M
raised by our local newsroom partners
100&Change
Report for America was recognized as one of six finalists in 100&Change, a global competition by the MacArthur Foundation to identify bold solutions to critical social challenges

Making an Impact

Leah Willingham

The Associated Press in Mississippi
Coverage focus: Mississippi legislature, especially actions affecting the poor
Leah Willingham
Leah Willingham

The city of Itta Bena, Mississippi, doesn’t have a newspaper. It doesn’t have a grocery store, or a bank. Because of Leah’s reporting, the world knew that it soon wouldn’t even have power. She surfaced stories of people who couldn’t pay—and as a result, the city was going to lose their lights once and for all. Leah’s reporting got the lights back on.

Monique John

WCPO in Ohio
Coverage focus: Gentrification
Monique John
Monique John

In July, Monique wrote how children in Over-the-Rhine are losing more and more outdoor spaces for activities and play time. Less than two weeks after her report, and almost two years after Findlay Park had been closed, city officials announced they will reopen the playground. John nuances the reopening with an insightful follow-up on how the shutting down of the park impacted the community.

Alejandra Martinez

KERA / The Texas Newsroom in Texas
Coverage focus: Economic impacts of coronavirus crisis
Alejandra Martinez
Alejandra Martinez

Alejandra’s investigation into a 100,000 ton “mountain” of shingles and waste in one of Dallas’s poorest communities brought statewide attention to the problem. After a years-long battle with city government, and within weeks of her story, the county began hauling away hazardous and environmentally-harmful waste.

Brandon Block and Laurel Demkovich

The Olympian and The Spokesman-Review in Washington
Service Project Spotlight
Brandon Block and Laurel Demkovich
Brandon Block and Laurel Demkovich

In a free after-school program, Report for America corps members Brandon Block and Laurel Demkovich mentor middle and high school students who express an interest in journalism. Participants develop and publish articles and videos about their choice of topics while also developing skills in interviewing, research and writing, journalistic techniques, ethics, and story crafting. 

The
GroundTruth
Project
Global stories, from the ground up

We all had different plans for 2020, including our global reporting fellows. They shifted gears, reporting on how the  pandemic was affecting migrant communities, the U.S. election, and more.

Through it all, GroundTruth is proud that our journalists stayed resilient, resourceful and committed to elevating voices of local communities to global conversations.

We all had different plans for 2020, including our global reporting fellows. They shifted gears, reporting on how the  pandemic was affecting migrant communities, the U.S. election, and more.

Through it all, GroundTruth is proud that our journalists stayed resilient, resourceful and committed to elevating voices of local communities to global conversations.

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7 reporting projects, including impact of COVID-19 on religious communities, voting rights in the U.S. and international migration
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27 GroundTruth fellows supported in 2020
85%
GroundTruth fellows reporting in countries they call home
63%
GroundTruth fellows identify as women
115
On The Ground dispatches published

16 Global Editorial Partners

Making a Global Impact

Mario Mendoza and Beth Murphy

Why are children dying of the flu in U.S. detention?
Mario Mendoza and Beth Murphy
Mario Mendoza and Beth Murphy

In this video featured in the New York Times’s Opinion section, Dr. Mendoza explains how, despite the vaccine being readily available, it is not being given to children. 

Iliana Hagenah

Voting Rights Fellow, U.S.
Iliana Hagenah
Iliana Hagenah

It is estimated that 400,000 people in Tennessee are disenfranchised from voting due to felony convictions. Tennessee’s ever-growing list of voter ID requirements are in line with nationwide trends that began in the 1950s and accelerated after the 2013 gutting of Shelby County v. Holder. Those regulations have barred hundreds of thousands of Tennessee citizens from voting, most of whom are young and Black.

Soumya Shankar

Democracy Undone Fellow, India
SAJA's Daniel Pearl Award
Soumya Shankar
Soumya Shankar

Shankar received the Daniel Pearl Award from the South Asian Journalists’ Association for her work on the GroundTruth podcast, Democracy Undone, detailing the situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of the controversial citizenship law.

Webby Awards

On the Ground with Report for America
Honoree, News & Politics
Webby Awards
Webby Awards

The GroundTruth Project was recognized as a 25th Webby Award Honoree in the News & Politics category for its 2020 podcast season, On the Ground with Report for America. It’s a playlist of stories from across America, amid a pandemic and nationwide demands for criminal justice and police reform, told by our very own Report for America corps members.

2020 Donor Recognition

We want to recognize and thank our numerous supporters who gave in 2020, without whom this groundbreaking work would not be possible.
Make a Gift Today
Alexandra B.
Supporter from Ontario, Canada
“I believe in you and what you do, and on the ground journalism is more important now than ever before.”
Laura E.
Supporter from Jamaica Plain, MA
“As a pastor serving diverse and divided communities that can't always even agree on the facts or access local news, we need strong local journalism to provide a share language and context for debate and dialogue about how we build community together.”
Danette Howard,
Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at Lumina Foundation
“By highlighting the stories, opportunities, and struggles of communities of color, Report for America can build understanding of the pressing need to address systemic inequities.”
2020 Annual Giving

$250,000 - $2.5M
Anonymous
Bake Family Trust
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Craig Newmark Philanthropies
Facebook Journalism Project
Joyce Foundation
Knight Foundation
Lumina Foundation
MacArthur Foundation
Natasha and Dirk Ziff
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Spring Point Partners

$100,000 - $249,999
Heising-Simons Foundation
Henry Kimelman Family Foundation
Jesse and Betsy Fink
Jonathan Logan Family Foundation
The Hearthland Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation
The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation
Tow Foundation
University of Massachusetts Amherst

$50,000 - $99,999
Anonymous
Bildner Charitable Trust
Democracy Fund
Evelyn Y. Davis Foundation
Inasmuch Foundation
Jim and Susan Swartz
Leon Levy Foundation
Maurice and Carol Feinberg Family Foundation
Newman’s Own Foundation
Robin D’Alessandro
Select Equity Group Foundation
Susie Trees
Val A. Browning Charitable Foundation

$5,000 - $49,999
Ann Davis Vaughan
Annie E Casey Foundation
Anonymous
Anonymous
Barinaga Goodman Fund
Battery Foundation
Bloomberg LP
BRELL Fund of the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund
David Fialkow
Further Forward Foundation
Iger Bay Foundation
Janet Clark
Listgarten Family Fund
LOR Foundation
Park Foundation
Richard Weintraub
Robert and Susan Sennott
Solutions Journalism Network
Susan Karp and Paul Haahr
The Miami Foundation
The Newhouse Family
The Ramsey Family Fund
The Steven M and Joyce E. Tadler Charitable Trust

Report for America local newsroom supporters ($5,000+)
Alexis and James Pugh
Ameren Corporation
American Journalism Project
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Ann Flannigan
Audrey and Courtney Moe Charitable Fund
Berks County Community Foundation
Blue Grass Community Foundation
Brian Glasser Household
Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation
Charter Communications
Community Foundation of Chattahoochee Valley
Community Foundation of Louisville
Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
Dan and Christine Quinn Family Foundation
Dogwood Health Trust
Ellen Bernstein Household
Foundation for the Carolinas
Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
Harold Matzner
Henry Kimelman Family Foundation
Julia Ardery and Bill Bishop
Kenneth O'Keefe
Lenfest Institute for Journalism
Long Beach Community Foundation
Miller-Wehrle Foundation
Minneapolis Foundation
Mississippi Power
Missouri Foundation for Health
Nancy Fleming Shelton
National Geographic Partners
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
Newman's Own Foundation
New Mexico Local News Fund
North Carolina Local News Lab Fund
North Texas Community Foundation
Pamela Ann Wickham
Phyllis Keller
Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
Stanislaus Community Foundation
The Calwell Practice, LC
The McConnell Foundation
White Family Trust
William Carter
Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
Youngstown Foundation

WHAT YOU SUPPORT

Supporters like you know that journalism is a cornerstone of democracy.
Here’s what your unrestricted gift to GroundTruth can make possible:
$35,000
sponsors a single local reporter - in the U.S. or globally - for one year of reporting service to their community
$100,000
launches our new Report for the World program in an additional country, fielding reporters focused on critical news gaps like gender, human rights, and global health
$250,000
launches a themed- or geographic corps of Report for America corps members focused on a specific topic like education or environment, or focused on a place, like the Mississippi Delta or Appalachia
$500,000
creates a GroundTruth endowment to sustain our reporting for years to come

Thank you

Thank you to all our supporters in 2020, who helped us grow in a year that reliable, trusted information mattered more than ever. We are so grateful to have you as partners restoring journalism from the ground up.
Financials

Year Over Year Growth

$2,249,690
(audited)
$2,249,690
(audited)
$4,475,885
(audited)
$4,475,885
(audited)
$8,547,984
(audited)
$8,547,984
(audited)
$2,249,690
(audited)
$2,249,690
(audited)
$4,475,885
(audited)
$4,475,885
(audited)
$8,547,984
(audited)
$8,547,984
(audited)

Revenue and expenses

6% Other
27% Individual Donors
67% Grants
$9,504,425
15% Fellowships / Global
25% Operations
60% Report for America
$8,547,984
Team Growth

In 2020, our staff grew by 66% from 24 to 40, and our Board of Directors grew by 33% from 12 to 16. Meet the people behind it all here.

In 2020, our staff grew by 66% from 24 to 40, and our Board of Directors grew by 33% from 12 to 16. Meet the people behind it all here.

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Letter from Charlie
As we all learned the hard way, 2020 was a year like no other.
A global pandemic, racial injustice and a direct attack on our democratic process. Through it all, we were reminded of the importance of trusted, on-the-ground journalism.

All eyes turned to our journalists, as communities, neighbors, and families sought out trusted local news sources in a time of deep division when sometimes it feels truth itself is under attack. And all of us were made starkly aware of how fragile the local news ecosystem is, and how important it is to a functioning democracy.

The GroundTruth Project, home to Report for America, met the moment, head on.

Our mission—to restore journalism from the ground up—matters now more than ever. And in 2021, we are aiming for even higher heights, with programs that focus on building a more sustainable journalism ecosystem, especially one that puts communities first.

We’re leading a global movement—and launching Report for the World in 2021—to rejuvenate news deserts, restore reporting gaps decimated by COVID-19 and lift up stories that matter most. This is a movement to not only restore journalism, but really to restore and protect democracy in the U.S. and around the world.

Will you join us?

And for those of you who already have joined, we extend heart-felt gratitude. Your support means the world to us.

Charles M. Sennott
Founder, CEO And Editor-in-Chief
The GroundTruth Project
Home of Report for America

Photo credits (in order of appearance): 1. KT Kanazawich / Flint Beat, Report for America 2. Silas Walker / Lexington Herald-Leader 3. Brittany Greeson / GroundTruth 4. Eric Shelton / Mississippi Today, Report for America 5. Jaida Grey Eagle / Sahan Journal, Report for America 6. Mao Siscar Banyuls / GroundTruth 7. Dee Dwyer / The DCist, Report for America