I'm a journalist who covers diverse social and scientific topics, including the arts, technology, climate change and the nonprofit sector. 

How Should Virginia Spend Its Cannabis Profits? — The Outlaw Report

Virginia’s plan for adult recreational cannabis use was approved in February, with a major bill review scheduled for 2022 and legalization set for 2024. When it comes to the use of cannabis taxes, the pro-legalization community is split. Governor Ralph Northam, the mayor of Richmond Levar Stoney, and some other Democrats support using the largest portion of taxes for targeted PreK programs...

How I Made This: Bisa Butler’s Quilt Portraits Honor the Black Experience

Bisa Butler creates vibrant, life-size quilt portraits of Black Americans. The unique process by which she translates photographs into luminous, pieced-cloth images is a synthesis of her formal artistic studies and family traditions. Trained as a painter, Butler later earned a master’s degree in art education. She taught high school art classes for years, making clothes and quilts in her free time. Her many influences include her mother and grandmother, who were sewers; members of the AfriCOBRA...

We Are Unstoppable: How Female Philanthropists are Turning Giving Circles into a Movement

Giving circles bring people together to practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build power. And this past April—when 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement—women were leading the conversation.

Tracing the Rain: Can Measuring Evaporation Help Farmers?

Accurately capturing a raindrop’s journey to the ground is tricky business. Evaporation can cause a raindrop to shrink between the time it is captured by radar in a cloud and when it hits a farmer’s field, and this can make it hard to rely on radar-based rainfall estimations in some areas. Researchers from the University of Missouri in Columbia are taking a closer look at evaporation. With the use of specialized weather algorithms ...

The Power of the Hive: New Climate Fund Centers Southern Women of Color (PDF in new tab)

The new Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice seeks to catalyze a deeply rooted climate response in the South by centering the leadership of black, Indigenous and other women of color. Southern women of color have a long track record of advancing social justice. They also play a pivotal role in grassroots environmental movements in the U.S. (and Global) South, leading groups that are often overlooked by grantmakers in favor of larger, more institutional, white- and male-led nonprofits.

To Protect a Critical Forest in Appalachia, a Foundation Goes Beyond Grantmaking — Inside Philanthropy

While the coal industry continues to decline, the communities and lands of Appalachia are in transition. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its funders are playing a significant role in reimagining coal country. In the spring and summer of 2019, TNC acquired 253,000 acres of land in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, which it will place under sustainable forestry management as the Cumberland Forest Project. A $20 million loan in the form of a program-related investment (PRI) from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) played a big role in this land purchase.

Can AI Write Music Well?

Can artificial intelligence create music successfully? The answer probably depends on the definition of music. Is it an organized combination of sounds and silence, defined by traits like rhythm and harmony? Are its personal and cultural background and emotional impact defining? Can AI create an art form that is central to so many lives? Major tech brands like Sony and IBM are experimenting with these questions, and a growing number of artists are using AI music tools.

Government Study: Schools Get Creative but Struggle to Fulfill IEPs During Shutdowns

The COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdowns have created new challenges for nearly all educators and students, and their families. This is especially true in the realm of special education. Each public school student who receives special education services is required to have an individualized education program (IEP) that outlines their instruction, goals, services, and more. According to a new government study (PDF), fulfilling children’s IEP’s during remote learning has proved difficult...

Finding the "Cancer Beacon" That Immune Cells Recognize

When the body’s immune system fights cancer, how does it choose a specific target? Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (HHMI) have spent decades studying the molecular structure of the immune system in an effort to answer this question. In December 2017, they reported a screening method that allowed them to identify which “signals” displayed by cancer cells were being recognized by the immune system, effectively discovering a “cancer beacon.”

Why Men Got Picked Over Women in a Blind Review of Science Grants - Philanthropy Women

A recent study of a science grant application process at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found male applicants received higher scores than women, even in a blind review. At the foundation’s request, a team from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed this imbalance and reported that factors like scientic discipline and position, publication record, and grant history were not factors — the main dierence was in the language used in proposal titles and descriptions.