New support goes toward shared data journalist, virtual events and more

(March 31, 2021) — Word in Black, a news collaborative of Black publishers managed by Local Media Association, has received a second round of funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support ongoing reporting of K-12 education, with a specific focus on the impact of COVID-19 on student learning and well-being.

Nine Word in Black publishers will use the funds to support an education beat with a commitment to publishing at least two stories each month. The group will also conduct three virtual events focused on disparities in education with a solutions-journalism approach.


Additionally, part of the funding will support a contract data journalist to help the nine publishers with their storytelling. Joining the collaborative will be Maya Pottiger, a recent graduate student from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and lead reporter at the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism where she investigated evictions by public housing authorities.

The funding comes at an opportune time. Word in Black is in the process of launching as a national brand, thanks to funding from the Google News Initiative. The group is working with Get Current Studio to design a world-class website, and News Revenue Hub to develop a newsletter/contribution strategy. The new site and newsletter will be live by May 1, and education stories will be prominently featured in both.

“We are grateful to Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for supporting the important work of Word in Black,” said Nancy Lane, LMA chief executive officer. “The publishers in this collaborative are laser-focused on fostering solutions to racial inequities in America. A lot of that starts with K-12 education.”

The group has been working on this topic since August, via a first round of funding from the Walton Family Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In six months they collectively produced 60 stories. Many are featured on the Word in Black website:


“This funding means a great deal to our organization,” said Dr. Frances Toni Draper, publisher, The AFRO-American. “It allows us to expand our focus on education in a way that we could not do otherwise. We’re currently working closely with the Baltimore school district on much-needed solutions to racial inequities, and this will enhance that work.”


“Word in Black publishers play a critical role in elevating the voices and perspectives of Black students, educators, and caregivers, which is essential to a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19,” said Raymonde Charles, vice president of communications, education and ventures at CZI. “We are excited to support the Collaborative’s continued growth as they expand to reach new audiences and cover vital, in-depth education reporting within local communities.”

Recent stories include:

Looking ahead, Word in Black will be seeking funding and support for a full-time national newsletter editor and community relations manager. Contact Lane at for more information.