Report for America selects The Press Democrat to receive a grant to report on the effects of local disasters on mental health

As part of our commitment to bring even more meaningful and insightful content to Sonoma County, I’m proud to share that The Press Democrat is among several dozen newsrooms across the country that received a grant to help fund a new newsroom position. reporter.

The Report for America program selected The Press Democrat over hundreds of other applicants and awarded us a grant to hire a reporter to explore how the past five years of traumatic events, from devastating wildfires and floods to disruptions in learning caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19. — have affected the emotional well-being and educational achievement of Sonoma County students.

It’s no secret that the unprecedented challenges outside of the classroom that our children, especially those in grades K-12, have faced in the last half decade have resulted in low academic scores.

Reading levels have plummeted, graduation rates have dropped, and worse, teachers have seen an increase in the number of students struggling with emotional and psychological issues.

The Press Democrat has been exploring the issue for the past year. Investigative health reporter Martín Espinoza last October, on the fifth anniversary of the 2017 wildfire storm, offered a special report that revealed the growing acute trauma among students reported by teachers and mental health experts.

A local survey reported that one in six Sonoma County middle and high school students say they are still “significantly feeling the effects of the 2017 wildfires,” was just one of Espinoza’s findings.

However, even deeper coverage is essential. Exploring the long-term effects of trauma on our next generation of youth was the basis of our request to Report for America for a journalist who can explore the issue at an even deeper level.

Over the next two years, the reporter, for whom we are now recruiting, will frame the challenges while looking for solutions that can be found in other parts of the country. I think it could be one of the most important positions in our newsroom.

There are two ways you can help make this an even bigger success.

First, if you are a journalist eager to tackle this entrepreneurial pace or know of a candidate whose skills match our readers’ expectations, please encourage them to apply at

You can also contact me at to share your interest.

Second, Report for America pays a portion of the reporter’s salary, and The Press Democrat must add to the balance by seeking tax-deductible contributions. I will have more information about that process and how you, as an individual, philanthropic trust, or nonprofit group, can help in the very near future.

Report for America is a national nonprofit group that places journalists in local newsrooms across the country. At a time when America’s newsrooms are facing unprecedented economic and financial challenges, the organization helps media organizations like The Press Democrat report on undercover issues and underserved communities.

We made several presentations to organization leaders in late 2022 and only recently learned of our award. We’re just one of three California newsrooms to win the grant, and I couldn’t be more proud because it will expand our ability to find and publish even stronger journalism for our readers and subscribers. This role will take advantage of storytelling and surveillance reporting skills.

The initiative is part of a national effort by a Boston-based nonprofit news organization called The GroundTruth Project that supports emerging journalists around the world with a special emphasis on social issues and public service journalism.

When I arrived as executive editor two years ago, I promised a new commitment to powerful journalism that makes a difference in this beautiful slice of California. This position, funded by our community and Report for America, will play a key role in fulfilling that commitment.

As always, thanks for reading The Press Democrat.

Richard Green is Executive Editor of The Press Democrat and Chief Content Officer of its parent company, Sonoma Media Investments. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @EditorRAG.

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