Welcome aboard

Stacy-Marie Ishmael joins Chalkbeat’s Board of Directors

Chalkbeat is thrilled to announce the expansion of its Board of Directors with the appointment of Stacy-Marie Ishmael, a leader in digital media and the future of journalism. The addition strengthens a growing organization that is now reporting on education in five local communities, bolstering Chalkbeat’s ability to meet expanding need for local news about education.

Ishmael, a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, joined the Chalkbeat board in September 2016.

“Our mission is to arm American communities with the information they need to build more equitable schools. We couldn’t have found a better leader to help us achieve our mission than Stacy-Marie,” said Chalkbeat board president and cofounder Sue Lehmann. “Her expertise in digital media, product, and news strategy will help Chalkbeat connect our award-winning, high-impact stories to broader audiences.”

Chalkbeat currently serves communities in four locations — New York, Colorado, Tennessee, and Indiana — and will launch in Detroit in January 2017. Chalkbeat’s reporting has spurred changes in education funding, legislation, policy, and practice and is regularly cited or republished in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Vox, the Commercial-Appeal, The Denver Post, The Detroit Free-Press, The Indianapolis Star, and more.

Ishmael joins a board that also includes Lehmann, cofounder and chief facilitator of the Student Success Network; Gideon Stein, the founder and CEO of LightSail Education; Jill Barkin, a vice president of board governance at Teach For America, and Kang-Xing Jin, a vice president of engineering at Facebook. Chalkbeat is led by cofounder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Green.

Ishmael, most recently managing editor for mobile at BuzzFeed News, is now researching mobile infrastructure for newsrooms at Stanford University as part of her JSK fellowship. At BuzzFeed News, Ishmael led the launch of and the editorial team for the BuzzFeed News apps on iOS and Android. She was also responsible for developing best practices for news on mobile across platforms.

Prior to BuzzFeed News, Ishmael worked at The Financial Times in various roles, including the first vice president for communities, where she created and led strategies to deepen meaningful relationships with global audiences.

Ishmael earned her undergraduate degree in international relations at the London School of Economics.

“At this pivotal moment in US history, strong schools and strong local journalism are more important than ever,” Ishmael said. “I’m proud to be able to join the board of an organization that is singularly focussed about a topic I care deeply about, and to help them build a sustainable path for journalism.”

“At Chalkbeat, we are determined to build a sustainable local news organization that can help steer the country toward stronger schools. We can’t do that without the strongest possible leaders,” said Elizabeth Green, Chalkbeat cofounder, CEO, and editor-in-chief. “Stacy-Marie brings us the vision and leadership we need to succeed.”

A previous addition to Chalkbeat’s board of directors was announced in December 2015.

About Chalkbeat:

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. Founded in 2013, Chalkbeat has bureaus in New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana, and Detroit, with plans to expand to a number of new markets in the next five years. We believe that every child deserves an excellent education, and that a strong press is vital to making that happen. Our mission is to provide deep, unbiased, local coverage of education policy and practice to inform the decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes for children and families. Chalkbeat’s work has been written about by The Nieman Lab, USA Today, and The Columbia Journalism Review.

#COGIVESDAY

Now more than ever, it’s vital to support strong, local, independent journalism

Will you support our education reporting today?

The past few weeks have put an intense focus on the role of the media. In an age of fake news and claims by some that the truth doesn’t matter — that it doesn’t even exist anymore — what can a responsible citizen do?

I can tell you what we are doing at Chalkbeat: We are doing our work.

That meant, on Nov. 9, sending reporters to schools to capture stories of students showing up in tears, worried that their loved ones may be deported. It meant chasing every vote in a hard-fought State Board of Education race that will help determine Colorado’s course on education policy for years. It meant examining whether private school vouchers might fly here.

This work has a cost and to support it, we need your help. On Colorado Gives Day, will you stand up for the truth by helping us meet our goal of raising $5,000 from readers like you?

On social media and elsewhere, there has been a flood of support recently for large national news organizations, both in the form of donations and subscriptions. This is great to see. But I would argue that the most vital journalism happens at the local level. And it is local journalism that is most imperiled by the economic forces that have battered the news industry in recent years. You can see it in the diminished newsrooms of newspapers of all sizes and the decimated ranks of statehouse reporters.

Yet the decisions made closest to home are the ones that have the greatest impact on people’s lives. That’s why Chalkbeat journalists attend community meetings, school board work sessions and legislative committee hearings that run deep into the night.

Increasingly, we are partnering with news organizations that once would have been considered competitors. They are republishing our work, which allows them to focus their limited resources elsewhere.

Chalkbeat is committed to providing deep, smart, independent journalism in the community we call home. That mission includes documenting how events at the national level have an impact here in Colorado.

That word — impact— is important to us. We want to write stories that make a difference, that inform conversations, that inspire action.

Over the past year, we have done that.

We used public records and dogged reporting to shed new light on a Denver school board appointee, prompting a policy change that bought more transparency to the voting process and leading one board member to thank us for holding the board accountable.

Our reporting uncovered faulty data on school discipline, calling into question the credibility of a report that trumpeted an uptick in discipline rates and causing the state to make a correction in the case of one district.

We exposed a secret meeting of the Colorado State Board of Education at a posh private club, a story that led the state Department of Education to hold a training session for the board on open records and meetings law.

Now more than ever, we need your support to do this work. Will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

Eric Gorski is bureau chief of Chalkbeat Colorado

Chalkbeat

Happy third birthday to Chalkbeat!

PHOTO: Will Clayton via Flikr

Three years ago Friday, Chalkbeat Indiana appeared on the Internet for the first time with a very simple (and temporary) website, one local journalist (me) and a daunting task ahead to try to make the state’s first nonprofit education news organization a permanent part of the Indiana media landscape.

The experiment is going well.

Today, thousands of educators, parents, students, community leaders and others rely on Chalkbeat for news and information about education in our state. Two outstanding reporters have joined our local team, and we have a recently redesigned website. If you’re one of our regular readers, thanks for helping us make Chalkbeat work!

Earlier this year, Chalkbeat and two partner organizations won one of Indiana’s top journalism prizes. This summer, a Chalkbeat-led series dove into the critical, but under-reported, story of school integration in Indianapolis and where it stands today. Chalkbeat also is the best source for information about how education connects to the 2016 election in Indiana.

If you are a regular reader, you probably know about our network by now, but in case you have recently discovered us, please check out our sister sites in New York, Tennessee and Colorado. (Plus, we have a pilot site now in Detroit!)

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