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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Block Club Chicago Wins Report For America Grant To Cover Chicago’s West Side — Could That Reporter Be You?

Report for America is dedicated to placing emerging journalists in local newsrooms to tackle under-covered topics and communities.

Block Club Chicago reporter Mauricio Peña reports in Pilsen.

SOUTH LOOP — Block Club Chicago will be covering Chicago’s largest neighborhood — Austin — starting this summer thanks to a grant from Report for America, a program dedicated to placing emerging journalists in local newsrooms to tackle under-covered topics and communities.

In order to host a Report for America corps member, Block Club had to demonstrate a plan to deploy new reporting resources to a neighborhood often overlooked by traditional media outlets.

“Embedding reporters in the neighborhoods allows us to find stories that aren’t being told elsewhere,” said Shamus Toomey, Block Club’s Editor in Chief. “It also allows a reporter to develop meaningful relationships with the community they cover.” 

Block Club’s Report for America corps member will cover Austin and North Lawndale on the city’s West Side. As our readers know, this embedded reporter will provide consistent, daily coverage of the neighborhoods — reporting on local school council meetings, new developments, new businesses and the issues that impact neighbors. 

RFA corps members typically have about three years of journalism experience, while others are recent graduates. Those interested in covering the West Side for Block Club, or becoming an RFA corps member elsewhere, can apply here through Feb. 8. 

Report for America currently has 13 reporters working in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. The program, funded by both private and public donors, pays for half of each reporter’s salary and the remainder is covered by the local newsroom and local benefactors.

Block Club’s Report For America journalist was one of 50 announced Thursday. Eighteen of the reporters are headed to nonprofit newsrooms like Block Club, seven are slated for public radio stations and the remainder will work for local newspapers. 

Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the United States. 

If you’re interested in helping to sustain our West Side coverage by making a donation, email or donate online here.