Boulder Reporting Lab (BRL) has won a one-year journalism fellowship to examine the unique role played by community foundations in climate disaster relief and recovery, through its reporting on the Boulder County Wildfire Fund. The fund, administered by the Community Foundation Boulder County, has raised an unprecedented amount of donations since the devastating Marshall Fire turned neighborhoods to ash on Dec. 30, 2021, destroying more than a thousand homes and displacing residents.

BRL was one of four newsrooms across the country selected by the Chronicle of Philanthropy for its inaugural Philanthropy & Nonprofit Accountability Fellowship. The Chronicle is an independent news organization that covers nonprofits, foundations and others involved in advancing the social good. The fellowship program is part of a collaboration with the Associated Press and the Conversation, and is “designed to shed light on one of the most undercovered — but crucial — sectors of American life.”

The grants provide financial support, tools, training and coaching from national experts on the nonprofit world. The goal of the program is to “develop coverage that will help local residents, policymakers, donors, and volunteers better understand how nonprofits work and what could help them do even more to solve problems like climate change and inequality as well as add to the cultural and educational vitality of their regions,” the Chronicle wrote in a press release.

All four newsrooms selected serve their local communities. 

“Americans donate nearly $450 billion a year to organizations that work to improve the social good, hold trillions of dollars in tax-exempt assets, and employ 1 in 11 workers — yet the news media pays little attention to whether nonprofits are living up to their missions and making a difference,” said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle. “Local newsrooms are in the ideal position to shed more light on what these  organizations achieve and hold them accountable for using money from the public as efficiently and effectively as possible.” 

The other recipients are The Haitian Times (Brooklyn), The Land (Cleveland) and WAMU/DCist (Washington).

“We’re honored to be selected in this inaugural cohort,” said Jezy Gray, managing editor of Boulder Reporting Lab. “Like most climate disasters, the Marshall Fire exposed the huge deficiencies in the social safety net. Philanthropy has stepped up in Boulder County to help fill gaps after this tragedy. This project is a chance to examine climate disaster philanthropy up close for our community and beyond as these devastating events surge around the country.” 

Boulder Reporting Lab (BRL) is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to filling gaps in public-interest, local-first reporting in and around Boulder, Colorado. BRL launched in 2021. It is part of the movement of independent news startups working to help build new, sustainable business models for in-depth local journalism at the local and hyperlocal levels.

Stacy Feldman

I'm the founder and publisher of the Boulder Reporting Lab. I previously co-founded and was executive editor of Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom covering the climate emergency. I was a 2020-21 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I developed the concept for BRL.