Update: Magna Cum MoJo

Five years ago we profiled a single father laid off and worried about his teenage daughter. Then a generous reader contributed $8,000 toward her education. Here’s what happened next.


in the november/december 2003 issue, Mother Jones ran an article I wrote about the impact of President Bush’s domestic policies on a small town in North Carolina. The piece told the story of Sam Jefferson, a single father laid off after 30 years at a local textile factory; the company had gone into bankruptcy in part because of trade agreements negotiated to facilitate the Iraq War. With local jobs drying up, and federal student aid frozen thanks to a Bush administration budget cut, Jefferson was worried that his teenage daughter wouldn’t be able to go to college. But after the story ran, an anonymous reader sent the family, by way of Mother Jones, $8,000 to help cover Tiffany’s college tuition. We’re thrilled to report that on May 3, Tiffany graduated cum laude from Elizabeth City State University with a bachelor’s in social work, and she’s been accepted for graduate school at the University of South Carolina. “I really appreciate the help” from the donor, says Tiffany, who paid for the rest of her education with scholarships and loans. “It did a lot for me and my family.” Her father, meanwhile, works two jobs—as a mail carrier, and at the deli at Wal-Mart, 30 miles away.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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