Introducing the Shoe Leather Fund — A new way to support community news

For seven years Foothills has supported in-depth, explanatory reporting while, at the same time, being agile and responsive to changing community needs (see C-19 Daily Update below).

Now, in this time of transition at Rapp News — goodbye and farewell, John McCaslin; welcome to the editor’s chair, Rachel Needham — we’ve heard a clear message: What can we do to help?

The answer: Provide resources to shore up traditional areas of strength for rural weekly journalism, namely:

  • Agriculture’s role in the local economy
  • The arts and the creative community
  • High school and youth sports

That’s why we have created the Shoe Leather Fund. (“Shoe leather” harkens back to reporters running to view events, find sources, and write stories.) Donations go to these three areas of local coverage. So, please consider a gift to the Shoe Leather Fund. Just ask us how at 850-443-4966 or

C-19 Update turns one

When the pandemic hit early last year, Foothills knew the need for precise, timely reporting on all local aspects of the virus would be great.  We quickly created the electronic C-19 Update Daily (link) in conjunction with the Rapp News, and since April 3, 2020, recipients of the Update — News subscribers and non-subscribers alike — have received in their in-box each morning, free of charge, links to four local Rapp News stories.

The total number of Update recipients has more than doubled, to over 1,150 today. Further, the ‘open rate’ – the number of recipients who click on and read the Update — routinely exceeds 50 percent, which is very high for the news business.

“Today, most news outlets – whether print, broadcast or digital – also produce emailed newsletters that highlight the day’s news or cover specific topics,” says Andy Alexander, former ombudsman of The Washington Post and a Foothills board member. “That’s the case with the C-19 Daily Update. It provides readers in Rappahannock County with news for or about our community that is of interest to them.”

Happy birthday, C-19 Daily Update!

Thank you, Sara!

With very mixed emotions, we report that outstanding journalist Sara Schonhardt has accepted a new global assignment that will end her tenure at Foothills. Sara, who was our very first reporting “fellow” and who created the Rapp News daily texting feature (among other things), is the new International Climate Reporter for the respected E&E News (which includes Greenwire, Energywire and other outlets).

Greatly saddened, we are nonetheless very grateful to Sara for her excellent reporting on Rappahannock, and we wish her the very best in her important new endeavor.