I am so excited to let you know that Chalkbeat is adding a new community to our network. On August 17, we will open a new bureau in Philadelphia, thanks to a partnership with the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.
Full disclosure: I’m biased about Philadelphia. It’s where I’m from, and my grandfather and his siblings credited the school system with pulling them out of poverty. Years later, my family remained committed to Philadelphia schools, making sure they served kids who grew up like they did. “I identify with these kids,” my Uncle Sydney, who served as principal of Kensington High School for Girls from 1971 to 1990, told the Inquirer.
I am so proud to carry their torch, and I cannot imagine a more important time to do it. The launch of Chalkbeat Philadelphia coincides with the start of a historic school year, in a city with unique challenges and ambitious plans to tackle them. Philadelphia is the poorest among the 10 most populous U.S. cities, with 35 % of children living under the federal poverty line. And yet, the story is not all bleak. The district is at the tail end of a bold five-year campaign to have all 4th graders proficient in reading; millions of dollars of investment has yielded significant increases in 3rd- and 4th-grade English language scores. We will continue to report on the largest, most comprehensive literacy push in the nation, ensuring other communities can build on Philadelphia’s successes and learn from their mistakes.
Chalkbeat plans to build on the 26-year legacy of the Notebook. Longtime Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa will continue on as the senior reporter for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Notebook she was the Philadelphia schools’ beat reporter and senior education writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Dale will be joined by a soon to-be-hired bureau chief. (By the way, we’re hiring!)
And to our future readers of Chalkbeat Philadelphia — we won’t be able to do this without you. If you have ideas for us, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Chalkbeat CEO and co-founder