The Current Funds Coastal Environmental Lab

Savannah-based investigative journalism secures funding from two family foundations to the benefit of the Georgia Coast

Savannah, GA — The Current, Coastal Georgia’s only nonprofit nonpartisan investigative news organization, will engage an experienced full-time reporter to cover the environment on the state’s 100-mile coast as a result of gifts from two prestigious Georgia-focused family foundations.

The R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation has awarded The Current $300,000 over a three-year period, and the Bobolink Foundation has awarded $60,000 over the same period to launch The Current’s Coastal Environment Lab.

These initial gifts for the Environment Lab will allow The Current to hire a staff writer devoted to reporting on issues including sea level rise, pollution and key environmental issues in Georgia’s coastal communities. While the reporting will focus substantially on accountability, it will also explain hidden threats and highlight solutions to even the most intractable problems.

Margaret Coker, The Current’s editor in chief, said the news organization believes that providing the deeply reported, unbiased journalism about environmental challenges confronting Georgia’s coastal residents is among the region’s most pressing needs.

“With these gifts we will be able to tell underreported stories that affect all communities among the coast’s 600,000 residents,” Coker said. “Issues including rising sea levels and aging Superfund sites are important for business development, for our health and well-being and the health of our unique natural habitats.”

Grey Matters Project, a Savannah-based nonprofit, launched The Current in September 2020 with Coker running the newsroom after a two-decade career as a prize-winning investigative journalist at Cox Newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Susan Catron, who has spent more than 30 years in journalism most recently as the executive editor of The Savannah Morning News, is The Current’s managing editor. 

Both family foundations donating to The Current have long commitments to preserving Coastal Georgia’s human and wild habitats. 

Howard Dobbs was born in Atlanta in 1906 and had a distinguished career with the Life Insurance Company of Georgia where he became President and CEO in 1950. He and Helen, his wife of 48 years, loved the North Georgia countryside. He also loved the ocean. In 1959 they established the Helen and Howard Dobbs, Jr., Foundation, which was later renamed the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr., Foundation. The organization’s mission is to support educational opportunities, improve access to health services, and promote environmental stewardship.

Bobolink Foundation has supported biodiversity conservation since 1986 both with funds and active participation as volunteers, trustees, advisors. “We have come to believe that ignorance and indifference are nature’s principal threats. Knowledgeable, caring, committed action is its best hope,” says Bobolink Chairwoman Wendy Paulson. The Paulson family has deep ties to Coastal Georgia, and the foundation has centered its work in the region on the Altamaha River basin.

The Current is independent and nonpartisan and reports without fear or favor on public interest news stories from Savannah to Brunswick.

The Coastal Environment Lab is the first of The Current’s four planned initiatives to tackle topics concerning Coastal Georgians. Through its community-funded model of journalism, the newsroom will hire reporters focused on government accountability, education and health as well as fund the associated costs of in-depth journalism, including public records requests, data analysis, graphics, visual storytelling and experienced editors. 

To join The Current’s membership ranks of individual readers and philanthropic foundations supporting independent journalism in Coastal Georgia, click here: https://thecurrentga.org/support-our-publication/

For more information about The Current’s mission and journalism, contact Margaret Coker — Margaret.thecurrent@gmail.com

This information compiled by and reported by The Current's staff. We use this credit line when information requires aggregation, compilation or organization from various staff and/or official sources.