A partnership between Charlottesville Tomorrow, journalist Jordy Yager, and Vinegar Hill Magazine has received $35,000 from the Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant for a new series, “Determined: Stories of Resilience in a Broken Ecosystem,” that examines the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on African American communities through the lens of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH).

“News isn’t black and white, and neither is our community,” Giles Morris said. “In partnering together, Charlottesville Tomorrow and Vinegar Hill Magazine are honoring our shared values and together creating a new model for local reporting that prioritizes inclusion.”

Charlottesville Tomorrow was selected from over 2,200 entries alongside 200 other local news organizations (including three in Virginia) who together will receive $16 million in grants as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in local news.

“I think covering health in a local community right now is a really important thing to be doing,” said Josh Mabry, Local News Partnerships lead for Facebook. “So the fact that you guys are building out comprehensive COVID-19 resources and making sure that the most critical information can be free, that’s really important work that I think is very worthy of funding at this moment.”

Vinegar Hill Magazine, founded in 2011 by Eddie Harris to support and project a more inclusive social narrative, focuses on lifting up stories of innovation, community activism, and culture in Charlottesville’s African American communities.

“With this partnership we hope to further Eddie’s original mission of creating a more inclusive social narrative in Charlottesville,” said Vinegar Hill Magazine Content Manager and Digital Strategist Sarad Davenport. “The stars have finally aligned.”

In creating “Determined,” independent journalist Jordy Yager seeks to offer an intimate portrait of people struggling to survive the COVID-19 crisis but also to shine a light on the brokenness of the systems designed to serve our community’s most vulnerable populations.

“The pandemic has brought lots of talk and acts of ‘togetherness,’ and yet, as we see now more than ever, our communities are also filled with injustices that often occur in segregated and isolating realities,” Yager said. “With this series, we aim to bring you detailed accounts of these long-standing and interconnected systems and the stories of community members waging daily battles, on micro and macro levels, to change and overthrow them.”

Digital Humanities Fellow at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and founder of the Mapping Cville project, Yager recently won a first place for multimedia features from the Virginia Press Association for his Charlottesville Tomorrow story “The Reimagining of Friendship Court.” His work has been published by National Public Radio, The New Yorker, the Columbia Journalism Review, and many state and regional news outlets.

“Jordy has embodied our principles of truth, equity, and community as a local journalist throughout his career,” added Charlottesville Tomorrow Editor Elliott Robinson. “We are so proud to publish his work again.

Art for the series is the work of Sahara Clemons a multimedia artist, designer and activist born in Washington, D.C., and based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Second Street Gallery, The Bridge Progressive Arts Institute and McGuffey Art Center.

The project, which is being co-produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow and Vinegar Hill Magazine, will appear on both organizations’ platforms with the goal of reaching the largest, most diverse audience possible.

Follow the project at cvilletomorrow.org and vinegarhillmagazine.com or on social channels with #DeterminedCville.

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