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Mississippi Today joins national collaboration focusing on rural workforce development

Mississippi Today joins four U.S. newsrooms in exploring changes in rural workforce development as part of an editorial collaboration from the Institute for Nonprofit News’ Rural News Network (RNN).

As one of 75 newsrooms reporting on rural issues in 47 states, Mississippi Today is part of a national initiative to uncover the most critical needs in these communities. Collaborative reporting reaches more people to make meaningful change possible.

“We are delighted to have Mississippi Today join this reporting project to share how Mississippians can bridge gaps in the work-to-jobs pipeline for rural communities,” said Alana Rocha, Rural News Network editor. “This crucial reporting will be shared across the country to surface solutions for other communities fighting for a better future for rural workers.”

For the next six months, Mississippi Today will work with Cardinal News in Virginia, KOSU in Oklahoma, Shasta Scout in Northern California and The Texas Tribune in covering the issue for regional, statewide and national audiences. The journalists will explore how changing demographics, politics and economic needs are reshaping rural workforce development programs. 

Mississippi Today’s higher education reporter Molly Minta will focus her reporting on one Mississippi Delta county, Issaquena, where less than 1% of adult residents have a bachelor’s degree, the lowest in Mississippi and the second lowest in the nation. Her research is showing that nearly a quarter of adults aged 25 or older in this sparsely populated county on the edge of the Mississippi River have attempted college but didn’t graduate. Her project will look at the barriers to higher education there but also focus on efforts underway to increase the county’s college-going rate. 


“Working with this collaborative has enabled us to see how some of the same issues affecting Mississippi’s Issaquena County are at play in other parts of the country and to see how other communities are attempting to tackle the problem,” said Debbie Skipper, Mississippi Today’s Justice Team and Special Projects Editor. “We are also gaining insight and advice from the leadership at the Rural News Network as we move forward in the reporting and editing process.”

This series is made possible with support from the Walton Family Foundation. Financial supporters have zero say in the editorial process.

The first round of the series publishes in early December, with follow-up stories set for early 2024.


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