LANDER, Wyoming—The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Wednesday (Jan. 13) that it has awarded the Lander Community Foundation a $122,000 grant for the Wyoming news and public policy website www.WyoFile.com to expand coverage of critical state issues.
The award from the Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge program adds to the $135,000 pledged to WyoFile.com by other sources. Major contributors include the George B. Storer Foundation Inc. of Saratoga, Wy.; Christopher Findlater, a Florida-based philanthropist with ongoing business interests in Wyoming, and the estate of the late Casper oilman, state legislator and U.S. Ambassador Tom Stroock.
“To increase the availability of information on complex state issues, this grant will support WyoFile.com , which examines Wyoming public policy and politics,” the Knight Foundation announced in a Wednesday press release. “WyoFile.com will increase its staff and reporting budget to further engage Wyoming’s residents, lawmakers, educators and business people through an independent, alternative source.”
The Knight Community Information Challenge is a five-year, $24-million initiative to help community and place-based foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged.
WyoFile.com was one of 24 community foundation-sponsored projects across the nation to receive awards totaling $4.3 million for 2010. A full list can be found on the Knight Foundation website at www.knightfoundation.org.
The non-profit Lander Community Foundation, formerly an arm of the Rotary Club of Lander, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people of Lander and acts as a catalyst for community enhancement. The foundation encourages, supports and rewards excellence in the performance of non-profits.
The Lander Community Foundation chose this project as its first large outreach project.
“We are delighted to receive this generous Knight Foundation grant on behalf of WyoFile, which we believe has the potential to become an important state-wide resource, “ said community foundation board member Deborah Kaufman. “The Lander Community Foundation is dedicated to increasing the information available to the public on key Wyoming issues.”
Founded in February 2008 by Findlater and a group of prominent Wyoming journalists, Wyofile.com has reported extensively on a range of complicated issues including oil and gas severance tax policy, open-space land use concerns, carbon sequestration, coal gasification and wildlife management.
WyoFile’s reporting this summer on corruption in the federal Royalty in Kind program for natural gas resulted in Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal ordering an audit of the state program. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar subsequently cancelled the Royalty in Kind system for all federal leases.
This fall, WyoFile launched a periodic series of articles, WyoFile’s Wyoming:An Insider’s Guide, profiling unique businesses, communities and wild places in the state.
In an effort to supplement and support traditional news coverage in the state, WyoFile.com stories are offered at no charge as a public service to all Wyoming media.
“One of our goals in the coming year is to make it easier for state newspapers to use our stories, by offering shorter versions of our in-depth investigative reports and features,” said WyoFile editor Rone Tempest of Lander. “We will also encourage newspapers and other media to seek out help in covering important policy issues in their communities. The Knight grant will be a big help in this regard.”
To meet its expansion plans WyoFile is currently seeking a full-time Marketing & Development director.
In July of this year, WyoFile.Com applied to the federal government for non-profit 501 (c) (3) status with the Internal Revenue Service.
WyoFile’s board of directors are Anne MacKinnon (Chairman), Casper, a Western water policy writer, educator and former executive editor of the Casper Star-Tribune; Randall T. Cox, Gillette, an oil and gas attorney and bird wildlife author; Christopher Findlater, Miami, Fla., internet entrepreneur, co-founder and former CEO of NetQuote, an online insurance company; Kathyrn Hogarty, Laramie, attorney and Director of External Relations and Special Assistant to the Dean, Univeristy of Wyoming School of Law; and Jonathan Weber, Missoula, Mt., Publisher and Editor in Chief, NewWest.net.
For more information contact:
Lander Community Foundation:
Don Reynolds 307-3324647
Deborah Kaufman 307-349-4558
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.