The nonprofit news organization Open Campus has hired two dedicated reporters to cover the topics of rural postsecondary education and workforce training and postsecondary education in prison. Funded by a grant from Ascendium, these reporters have created a pair of newsletters that bring awareness to the obstacles facing rural and incarcerated learners and the ongoing efforts to remove them.
Mile Markers is a bimonthly newsletter about the role of colleges in rural America, written by reporter Nick Fouriezos. Fouriezos grew up at the crossroads of suburban Atlanta and the foothills of Appalachia, and his dispatches are filed from across America. A recent article, “Does axing testing hurt rural colleges?” looks at how decisions to waive college enrollment testing requirements impact enrollments for rural institutions, using his native Georgia as a case study. Future editions will explore different issues through the lens of South Carolina and Texas.
College Inside is a biweekly newsletter about the future of postsecondary education in prisons, written by reporter Charlotte West. Before beginning the newsletter, West spent months talking to researchers, professors, advocates, prison officials and currently and formerly incarcerated students about the current landscape of prison education. Her newsletter focuses not only on conversations about Pell Grants, which will be expanded to include incarcerated learners in the 2023-24 academic year, but also prison apprenticeships, the value of liberal arts education behind bars, the role of technology in prison education and what happens to education programs when facilities shut down.
According to Open Campus Co-founder and Executive Editor Sara Hebel, Fouriezos and West are the only U.S.-based reporters dedicated to these beats in a comprehensive way. In writing the newsletters, they seek to connect people with one another, complicate the narratives, challenge assumptions and help readers become more informed about these issues.
“We're thrilled to have the opportunity to develop journalists who are national experts on these under-covered aspects of postsecondary education,” says Hebel. “These issues impact both the lives of individuals and the health of communities. We look forward to elevating public dialogue about these topics and deepening understanding of where progress can be made.”
Open Campus is an independent, nonprofit news organization that is working to improve the coverage Americans get about higher education at both the national and local levels. It seeks to transform local reporting on colleges by combining the sophistication of a national newsroom that knows a topic very deeply with the engagement of a community newsroom that knows a place very deeply.
To subscribe to the newsletters, visit the Open Campus website.