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Erika Kitzmiller
Erika Kitzmiller

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Progress Report-Central Pennsylvania Collaborative

Project Update:

To date, we have created a website where visitors can read original articles on the community residing in and around Central Pennsylvania. We have published articles weekly and have established submission guidelines for future articles. The website features profiles, which are written by journalists in the area and highlight progressive, diverse thinkers who live and work in Chambersburg Pennsylvania, and first-person narratives, which are written by individuals who live in the area on a topic of their choice. We have highlighted the lives of Lance Walker, a Black barber and school board member; Kristi Rines, a BLM activist; Matt Fogal, a former Republican district attorney who publicly has supported Black Lives Matter; Phillip Whitley, an openly gay man and photographer, and Amer Chaudry, a Muslim business owner and resident who is running for public office. In addition, we have shared first-person narratives from Patty Dolaway, a progressive political organizer and three individuals who describe their lives under COVID-19, Kim Amsley-Camp, a certified nurse midwife; Jennifer Morris, a mother of four including a child with special needs, and Melinda M. Schwenk-Borrell, who drives a medical transport van in the community. These articles are currently posted on the website:

Progress on Grant Objectives:

Goal 1 -- Create a website for the collection of original news content,and aggregated announcements, focused on the Chambersburg area,with a specific emphasis on traditionally marginalized voices.

We have created the website and are engaged in expanding our readership. You can view the website here:

Goal 2 - Achieve a total of 500 weekly Coil Member visits, producing payments at the rate of $20 per month, allowing for payments to content producers.

We have started to build readership through the Central PA Collaborative Advisory Board, made up of members with the community, and by engaging residents in the area to write personal narratives. This initial effort has helped to build content and engage visitors. Starting in March we’ve begun to set up our digital wallet and will start to collect payments for content producers.

Goal 3 - Solidify content agreements with local media, notably the Franklin County Free Press and Public Opinion, in which local media outlets use Coil Memberships to access exclusive publication of content from the Central Pennsylvania Collaborative.Content would subsequently be monetized and publicized on the website after a span of three days.

We have partnerships with these new outlets and are working to solidify the content agreements.

Goal 4 - Develop partnerships with local school districts and colleges to create pipelines of contributors for the publication, notably among Spanish-speakers.
We have trained a group of high school students and recent alumni to edit the first-person narratives.

Goal 5 - Begin expansion of this model into other emerging news deserts in other Central Pennsylvania communities.
We have begun to solicit news from other counties to expand our readership.

Key Activities:

Over the past four months, we have created a website, enlisted support from the community, assembled an advisory board, and have written several pieces to highlight the diverse voices in Central Pennsylvania. Our work has taken longer than we anticipated to launch the site, but we are very excited about the reception of this work in the community and are eager to continue to expand our readership and promote COIL memberships.

Communications and Marketing:

We have discussed our work with members of the advisory board and other interested members in the community. We also have an active Facebook and Instagram page to broadcast this work to the largest community possible. We also changed the project name from Central Pennsylvania Info Hub to Central Pennsylvania Collaborative to reflect the idea of collaboration with community partners.

What's Next:

We will continue to publish profiles and first-person narratives and establish COIL memberships to increase visibility and revenues. The reception of the initial pieces has surpassed even our expectations. We are excited to build on this work in the coming months.

How can the community support this work:

If anyone has suggestions about individuals who live or work in Central Pennsylvania who might be interested in writing a first-person narrative or being featured in our profiles, we would love to hear about that on our submissions page. We are also eager to have you spread the word about our work to other news organizations and interested individuals both in the area and beyond.

Top comments (1)

jfarkas profile image
Janos Farkas

Erika, I admire your project and your motives that "examines the historical process and current reform efforts that have contributed to inequality today"!