Jewél Jackson covers higher education in El Paso with our partner El Paso Matters. She’s the first dedicated higher education reporter the region has had in decades. Photo: Corrie Boudreaux, El Paso Matters

This newsletter is about the role of higher ed in society. Each week, we highlight how college is (or is not) working for citizens and communities. It goes out most Friday mornings — If someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up for your own copy here.

A Model To Strengthen Local News

At Open Campus our local network is built on a different idea of how to reinvigorate local news. At its core, it’s a collaboration.

We bring the higher-education expertise and find newsroom partners that know their communities deeply. We’ve had some early success, and we’re now working with seven partners in six states.

This week we’re excited to announce an investment that will accelerate our work. The American Journalism Project is giving grants to support a set of national news organizations working in local communities.

Reimagining and strengthening local news will take new ideas, models, and funding. We’re excited to be part of this group of newsrooms that are trying to do just that.

The other organizations receiving grants are: The Marshall Project, which focuses on the criminal justice system; Capital B, which reports on Black communities across the country; Chalkbeat, which covers issues in pre-K to 12 education; and ICT, formerly Indian Country Today.

Here’s how Sarabeth Berman, CEO of AJP, describes why this matters:

“To realize our vision of a country where every community has the information it needs will take investing in and testing promising new models, including these ambitious multi-local strategies.”

At Open Campus, our plan is to take our model to 25 locations by the end of 2024. This money from AJP will let us add local fundraising staff and a director of talent to help recruit, train, and develop the careers of our local higher-ed reporters.

+ Want to partner with us in the future? Reach out.

+ Know a city that could use more in-depth coverage of higher ed? Send us a note.

+ Want to work with us? Apply for our jobs.

From the Road

Mikael Honzell and Naomi Harris

We spent much of this week traveling California with Naomi Harris, our new national reporter on race and equity, talking with the state’s residents about their relationship with college — what shapes their dreams, what gets in their way, and what helps them get through.

Here, Naomi’s talking with a student on the campus of San Joaquin Delta College in a county where fewer than one in five adults has a bachelor’s degree. We’ll be writing about some of the students we met over the coming months.

Elsewhere on Open Campus

Jay Boyer, a student at San Diego Mesa College, sought help from the Rising Scholars Network after finding herself homeless upon her release from jail. Photo: Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for CalMatters

In California: Is new support the key to success for formerly incarcerated community college students? Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that for the first time provides ongoing state support for programs at California community colleges to provide services to formerly incarcerated students.

In Mississippi: Got a 17 on your ACT? Mark Keenum doesn’t want you at Mississippi State. Too often, the university’s president said, Mississippi’s financial aid programs go to poor, lower-performing kids and take money away from students with high ACT scores.

In Work Shift: Big Tech’s Two-Year College Push. Major tech companies are expanding their collaboration with community colleges and other open-access institutions, increasingly putting real money and support behind those partnerships. (Read more in The Job.)

Also in Work Shift: ‘Given any opportunity this company would let go of me— because I don’t matter to them.’ Te’Sean Adams, a former shipping clerk, talks to Work Shift about being an expendable “essential” worker. His story is part of a series looking at the pandemic’s impact on individual Americans.

In Cleveland: Companies scramble to recruit college students amid a booming job market. Employers are reaching out in droves to Northeast Ohio’s colleges and universities. One university career director said she hasn’t seen anything like this over her 15 years in the industry.

In latitude(s): A tale of two international enrollment trends. International graduate enrollments rebounded sharply post-pandemic, climbing 13 percent after last year’s declines. But the number of foreign undergraduates continued to slide, declining eight percent from fall 2020.

In Colorado: Colorado governor’s budget proposal contains record-high education funding. The budget calls for an increase of 4.6% in operational support for colleges. The governor also wants to spend $7 million to help Coloradans enroll and succeed in higher education and job training.

Keep in Touch

Apply for our jobs. Join our revenue team or become our Director of Talent. Get the details.

Support our work. We’re grateful to our donors, who help us add thoughtful reporting on higher ed to communities across the country. Here’s where to give.

Got a story tip or a question? Please send it along.

Run a newsroom and want to improve your coverage of higher ed? Let’s talk.

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Our Local Network locations: California | Cleveland | Colorado | El Paso | Mississippi | Pittsburgh | Santa Cruz

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of Open Campus