How are not-for-profit civic news organizations funding their newsgathering operations? Some still compete for traditional sources of revenue through the sale of advertising and subscriptions. The majority rely more heavily on private donations, business and corporate sponsorships and philanthropic grants. Sierra County Sun seeks to become self-sustaining by pursuing all these possible sources of funding. 

Like millions of Americans who make charitable donations to keep public-interest journalism alive in their communities, the following individuals and organizations made donations to the Sun during its first year of publishing on through its re-launch on October 16, 2020. We are especially indebted to those who stepped forward to contribute a minimum of $500 to the Campaign to Save the Sun after the (thankfully premature) announcement of our closing. Their belief in the importance of the Sun’s reporting to the wellbeing of Sierra County spurred them to take a chance on our ability to overcome revenue shortfalls if given adequate time to regroup. These generous citizens will be permanently acknowledged here as the Sun’s Founders.


Gifts of $5,000
Jim and Mary Anne Ciancia
Diana Tittle and Tom Hinson
Max Yeh and Anka Ewerbeck
Zia Gallery

Gifts of $1,000 to $2,500
Mary Cavett and Martin Mijal

Gifts of $500
Garland Bills
Robbin and Stan Brodsky
Deb Nicoll and Tony Mottino
Reality Based Marketing
Rio Bravo Fine Art Gallery
Harley Shaw and Patty Woodruff

Foundation Supporters (2020-21)

Grants of $10,000 to $15,000
New Mexico Local News Fund

Donors (2020-21)

In keeping with our commitment to disclosing our funding sources (see the Sun’s Transparency Policy here), we will regularly update our donor list and archive each year’s entire list on our website.

Gifts of $500 to $1,000
Carol and Jonathan Buchter
Diane Denish
Zia Gallery

Gifts of $251 to $499
Garland Bills
David Amin Dawdy
Jack and Sue Davis in honor of Durrae Johanek
Sandy Ficklin
Tom Hinson and Diana Tittle

Gifts of $100 to $250
303 Gallery
Isaac and Sharon Foley Eastvold
Véronique de Jaegher
Dennis Dooley and Kirste Carlson
Jan Haley and Gary Gritzbaugh
Barbara Hawley and David Goodman
Carol Ikard
Larry Mullenax
Cece McGowan
Sarah Lynne McMahon
Debora Nicoll
Barbara Pearlman and David Farrell
Janice Richmond and Kathleen Blair
Rebecca Speakes
Haruhuani Spruce
Yvonne Thorpe
William Thorpe in honor of Ellen Evans
Nichole Trushell and Steve Morgan
Kim J. Visscher
Dan Warren
Annie Whitney and David Webster

Gifts of $10 to $99
Tony Archuleta
Carol Borsello
Carolyn Cazares
Kenneth Chromic
James Davidson
Michael Dellheim
Lydia Dixon
Ariel Dougherty
Arla Ertz in honor of Dan Warren
Pat Finley
Sara Frothingham
Sandra S. Green
Mark Gresock
Sue and Marvin Gritter
Sally Hobensack and Ken Maynard
Peter A. Lawton
Susan Lea
Julia Masaoka
LaRena Miller
James Nelson
Jack Noel
William Parkhurst
Joey Perry
Paul Pierce
Terry and Chris O’Rourke
Stephen Siegfried
Kim Skinner
Rob Spence
Jan and Ted Thedford
Robin Tuttle
Sharon Van Gelder
William (Bill) West
Raquel Wiltbank-Mateo
Douglas Winquest
Kendall Wochnick

Fiscal Agent

The Sierra County Public-Interest Journalism Project serves as the Sierra County Sun’s fiscal agent. SCP-IJP was incorporated as a 501c3 in 2020 to promote public discourse and civic engagement in a southern New Mexico county. At present, its sole project is to raise funds to support the Sierra County Sun. SCP-IJP has no administrative expenses, as it is entirely volunteer-run. All the funds it raises are re-granted to the Sun with no conditions attached.



Understanding New Mexico's proposed new social studies standards for K-12 students

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
—National Council for the Social Studies 

Reader Michael L. Hayes of Las Cruces commented: What impresses me is that both the proposed standards and some of the criticisms of them are equally grotesque. I make this bold statement on the basis of my experience as a peripatetic high school and college English teacher for 45 years in many states with many students differing in race, religion, gender and socioeconomic background, and as a civic activist (PTA) in public education (My career, however, was as an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy and the environment.)

The proposed social studies standards are conceptually and instructionally flawed. For starters, a “performance standard” is not a standard at all; it is a task. Asking someone to explain something is not unlike asking someone to water the lawn. Nothing measures the performance, but without a measure, there is no standard. The teacher’s subjective judgment will be all that matters, and almost anything will count as satisfying a “performance standard,” even just trying. Students will be left to wonder “what is on the teacher’s mind?” or “have I sucked up enough.”

Four other quick criticisms of the performance standards. One, they are nearly unintelligible because they are written in jargon. PED’s use of jargon in a document intended for the public is worrisome. Bureaucrats often use jargon to confuse or conceal something uninformed, wrong or unworthy. As a result, most parents, some school board members and more than a few teachers do not understand them.

Two, the performance standards are so vague that they fail to define the education which teachers are supposed to teach, students are supposed to learn, and parents are supposed to understand. PED does not define words like “explain” or “describe” so that teachers can apply “standards” consistently and fairly. The standards do not indicate what teachers are supposed to know in order to teach or specify what students are supposed to learn. Supervisors cannot know whether teachers are teaching social studies well or poorly. The standards are so vague that the public, especially parents or guardians, cannot know the content of public education.

Three, many performance standards are simply unrealistic, especially at grade level. Under “Ethnic, Cultural and Identity Performance Standards”; then under “Diversity and Identity”; then under “Kindergarten,” one such standard is: “Identify how their family does things both the same as and different from how other people do things.” Do six-year-olds know how other people do things? Do they know whether these things are relevant to diversity and identity? Or another standard: “Describe their family history, culture, and past to current contributions of people in their main identity groups.” (A proficient writer would have hyphenated the compound adjective to avoid confusing the reader.) Do six-year-olds know so much about these things in relation to their “identity group”? Since teachers obviously do not teach them about these other people and have not taught them about these groups, why are these and similar items in the curriculum; or do teachers assign them to go home and collect this information?

Point four follows from “three”; some information relevant to some performance measures requires a disclosure of personal or family matters. The younger the students, the easier it is for teachers to invade their privacy and not only their privacy, but also the privacy of their parents or guardians, or neighbors, who may never be aware of these disclosures or not become aware of them until afterward. PED has no right to design a curriculum which requires teachers to ask students for information about themselves, parents or guardians, or neighbors, or puts teachers on the spot if the disclosures reveal criminal conduct. (Bill says Jeff’s father plays games in bed with his daughter. Lila says Angelo’s mother gives herself shots in the arm.) Since teacher-student communications have no legal protection to ensure privacy, those disclosures may become public accidentally or deliberately. The effect of these proposal standards is to turn New Mexico schools and teachers into investigative agents of the state and students into little informants or spies.

This PED proposal for social studies standards is a travesty of education despite its appeals to purportedly enlightened principles. It constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and civil liberties. It should be repudiated; its development, investigated; its PED perpetrators, dismissed. No state curriculum should encourage or require the disclosure of private personal information.

I am equally outraged by the comments of some of T or C’s school board members: Christine LaFont and Julianne Stroup, two white Christian women, who belong to one of the larger minorities in America and assume white and Christian privileges. In different terms but for essentially the same reason, both oppose an education which includes lessons about historical events and trends, and social movements and developments, of other minorities. They object to the proposal for the new social studies standards because of its emphasis on individual and group identities not white or Christian. I am not going to reply with specific objections; they are too numerous and too pointed.

Ms. LaFont urges: “It’s better to address what’s similar with all Americans. It’s not good to differentiate.” Ms. Stroup adds: “Our country is not a racist country. We have to teach to respect each other. We have civil rights laws that protect everyone from discrimination. We need to teach civics, love and respect. We need to teach how to be color blind.”

Their desires for unity and homogeneity, and for mutual respect, are a contradiction and an impossibility. Aside from a shared citizenship, which implies acceptance of the Constitution, the rule of law and equality under the law, little else defines Americans. We are additionally defined by our race, religion, national origin, etc. So mutual respect requires individuals to respect others different from themselves. Disrespect desires blacks, Jews or Palestinians to assimilate or to suppress or conceal racial, religious or national origin aspects of their identity. The only people who want erasure of nonwhite, non-Christian, non-American origin aspects of identity are bigots. Ms. LaFont and Ms. Stroud want standards which, by stressing similarities and eliding differences, desire the erasure of such aspects. What they want will result in a social studies curriculum that enables white, Christian, native-born children to grow up to be bigots and all others to be their victims. This would be the academic equivalent of ethnic cleansing.

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