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Community paper developed to inform, uplift, and unify

Community paper developed to inform, uplift, and unify

Picture of Derryl Acosta

I recently attended a forum hosted by the USC Annenberg's California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, The California Endowment and Media Impact Funders focusing on the opportunity for philanthropies to utilize media to make the world a better place. I was pleased to discover that other organizations shared my organization's (Price Charities) belief that access to good information is an important element of a healthy and thriving community. As philanthropists we can provide all the services in the world but people won't utilize them if they don't know how.

About two years ago we decided to begin publishing a monthly, print publication that focused on three things: to inform, uplift, and unify the residents of City Heights. City Heights is a dense (for San Diego), urban community with many of the same problems plaguing other high poverty communities in the United States. As a result, most media stories focus on what's wrong with City Heights, creating a perception both inside and outside of City Heights that it's a bad community. We believe that if we tell what's right with City Heights, it will raise community pride from the inside which will affect the outside world's perception. Why does this matter? Because the community needs investments to thrive, just as much if not more than any other community. 

The publication, City Heights Life/La Vida, is multilingual with every article printed in both Spanish and English and occassionally in Vietnamese and Somali. More than half the articles are submitted by nonprofit organizations working in the community. They have found the publication to be an excellent avenue for reaching their constituents. The other half are produced by me and a part time editor. We have had modest success getting students to submit articles, something we hope to expand in the near future through a partnership with a local university. I like to steal the clothing line FUBU's mantra; for you by you. The publication is relevant because the articles are written by City Heights residents for City Heights residents. 

We don't accept any advertising, don't allow negative or controversial topics, and focus only on the positive. Therefore we don't call it a "news" paper, just a paper or publication. We print more than 9,000 hardcopies every month, of which 7,000 are distributed to 13 local schools. We find that most of the parents with elementary school students are getting it at home from their child's backpack. We chose to go the print route rather than the more cost effective digital only because most of our residents do not have internet access. 

You can check us out at www.cityheightslife.com. If you go to the archives you can see what the print publication looks like. Unlike the website, which we didn't pay a designer to create for the reason stated above, the print publication has an engaging design. 

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