JSK Names 10 Community Impact Fellows, Including Indian American Journalist Sonam Vashi
Sonam Vashi is co-founder and operations director for Canopy Atlanta. (jsk.stanford.edu photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
An Indian American journalist entrepreneur, Sonam Vashi, is among 10 Community Impact Fellows named recently by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University for 2021-2022.
The fellows are veteran and emerging journalism leaders who will work remotely in their communities on practical solutions to address the U.S. journalism industry’s long-standing neglect of communities of color, according to a press release. Their projects will address news and information gaps affecting Asian, Native American, Black, Latino, and other communities that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, systemic racism and the deterioration of legacy local news outlets.
Vashi is co-founder and operations director for Canopy Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. The fellowship will allow her to listen, train and partner with Atlanta’s working-class immigrant communities to strengthen information ecosystems and civic participation.
Canopy Atlanta is a community-led nonprofit newsroom telling stories chosen, produced, and presented with local residents.
A lifelong resident of Atlanta, Vashi is also an award-winning reporter whose work covering criminal justice, immigration, and the South has appeared in the New York Times, Atlanta magazine, ProPublica, CNN, the Washington Post, National Geographic, and several others, noted the release.
She earned a BA degree in political science and journalism from Emory University, and is working with professors at Emory University to investigate Jim Crow–era racial terrorism in Georgia, including the 1906 Atlanta Massacre.
“We’re thrilled by the wide range of experience levels, talents and types of local organizations around the U.S. that our new JSK Community Impact Fellows represent,” said JSK director Dawn Garcia. “Their news and information projects will provide essential information to communities of people who are too often overlooked.”
The JSK Community Impact Fellows will develop news and information solutions that better engage underserved communities of color in 10 cities across the United States: Atlanta, GA; Bloomfield, NJ; Cleveland, OH; Halliday, ND; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; Riverside, CA; Salinas, CA, and Vallejo, CA.
The fellowship began Sept. 13, 2021 and will run to June 3, 2022, though many of the fellows have already begun their work and will continue their projects well after the fellowship ends. The fellows will document their work publicly throughout the year, highlighting key strategies and lessons learned.
JSK announced a new remote model in June 2020, pivoting from its traditional Stanford-based residential fellowship to a virtual arrangement because of the pandemic. Fellowship directors decided to continue the remote model a second year because of its success.
“The fellows made great progress with their on-the-ground projects to listen, learn and serve the information needs of their local communities of color,” said Garcia. “From empowering citizens in Cleveland and Los Angeles to participate in local government meetings, to teaming up with local residents in Northampton County, N.C. to create a newsletter that focuses on environmental journalism as a community service, to partnering with the community in Boise, Idaho to create bilingual COVID-19 news to help combat coronavirus misinformation, we were awed by what our fellows accomplished in these communities.”
Fellows will receive stipends of up to $75,000, additional funds to support their project work, strategic advising, membership in a cohort of innovative leaders, and remote access to the world-class resources of Stanford.