June 7, 2011

InvestigateWest launches first collaboration with regional Patch sites

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InvestigateWest is happy to announce the launch of its first collaboration with Patch, a network of online local news sites. A team of InvestigateWest reporters and photographers spent more than six months examining issues of family homelessness in Washington State. The resulting award-winning Generation Homeless project looked at family homelessness through the lens of young adults – one of the most under-recognized segments driving the surge in homeless families in Washington, as well as the impact of this trend on children and school systems around the state.

Joining us in localizing this effort even further is Patch, a network of online local news sites. Patch reporters and editors dug even deeper at the local level to see how this disturbing trend is playing out in school communities throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

Edmonds Patch, for example, drilled down to see how an underfunded federal mandate to provide transportation for homeless students is affecting the school district’s budget.

Enumclaw Patch looked at the difficulties schools face in tracking and identfying homeless familes in order to provide services.

Kirkland Patch looked at what it’s like for kids to be homeless on the East Side.

These and other stories to come this week demonstrate the power of linking investigative and community journalism. They take a big, nationwide issue, and show how it is hittng each of us, where we live.

You can see links to Patch stories on 10 sites, including Edmonds, Kirkland, and Enumclaw with more rolling out all this week.

For an updated look at homeless students by district across the state, check out InvestigateWest’s  interactive map with the latest numbers from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

InvestigateWest’s reporting for this project was done in conjunction with a fellowship from Seattle University’s Center for Strategic Communications. Seattle University’s fellowship program was underwritten by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The stories, video and map were recently honored by the Society of Professional Journalists for excellence in online enterprise reporting, video production and interactive graphics.

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