The Virginia Funders Network has announced that five of its member organizations have joined a funding collaborative with Cardinal News to increase health reporting in Southwest and Southside Virginia.

Funding by Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Danville Regional Foundation, the PATH Foundation, The Harvest Foundation and Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia will create a new position for a health reporter to ensure full-time coverage of an important issue. Ballad Health and Carilion Clinic are also supporting this initiative.

“The Virginia Funders Network was created, in part, to provide philanthropic funders opportunities to tackle big issues together,” said Bess Littlefield, VFN’s CEO, in a statement. “This collaborative is another example of the leveraging power of VFN’s members and will allow Cardinal News to continue providing award-winning journalism that improves the quality of life for Southside and Southwest Virginians.”

“We are so pleased that the Virginia Funders Network and its members recognize the important role journalists play in keeping communities informed about important topics. No topic is more central to the well-being of Virginians than health care,” said Luanne Rife, Cardinal News executive director. “Philanthropic support is essential to our ability to provide the people of our communities with the news coverage they deserve. We are so grateful to VFN for its substantial support.”

Poor health outcomes for people living within Cardinal News’ footprint are higher than in the rest of Virginia. The Appalachian Regional Commission reports that heart disease and diabetes deaths are 40% higher than the rate in non-Appalachian Virginia. The rate of early deaths is 38% higher than the national rate and 54% higher than for non-Appalachian Virginia. And the average adult feels mentally unhealthy 19% more often than non-Appalachian Virginians.

“The philanthropic community in Virginia has recently formed the Virginia Funders Network, and this is one of our first major collaborative funding efforts,” said Clark Casteel, president and CEO of Danville Regional Foundation. “While each of our organizations work independently in our own communities across the commonwealth, we realize that by pooling our resources, we can have an even greater impact statewide, in this case by helping Cardinal News have the means and the opportunity to cast a critical and journalistic eye on one of VFN’s core values — the continued health and well-being of our neighbors.”

“The PATH Foundation recognizes the importance that reporting can have when sharing stories that fully inform the reader on various issues, particularly when it comes to health-related topics,” said Christy Connolly, president and CEO of the PATH Foundation. “Our goal for supporting this health-focused reporter is to gain broader coverage on important issues that can be correlated to statewide information, as well as to our geographic footprint.”

Cardinal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on philanthropy from foundations, corporations and individuals. Funders have no role in news decisions; see our policy. When Cardinal launched in September 2021, we had two reporting positions. We now have six. This and an upcoming technology reporter position will bring our reporting staff to eight.

Cardinal is presently recruiting candidates for the health care position. Those with previous experience covering health care may apply to