KUNM is adding two more full-time reporters in the next few months to focus on poverty and public health in New Mexico. KUNM General Manager Richard Towne said, "In keeping with our goal to inform and engage citizens with the very best public radio journalism possible, we are taking a much needed long, hard and in-depth look at conditions of poverty and public health."

The initiative is funded by a three-year $380,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., and a leading grant of $75,000 made earlier this year by the McCune Charitable Foundation of Santa Fe. The Frost Foundation of Santa Fe granted KUNM $5,000 for first year start up costs. Additional funding for the project comes from KUNM listeners and program underwriters.

"These new grants will allow KUNM to expand and shine a bright journalistic spotlight on two of the most significant issues we face together as a state," Towne said.

KUNM will hire the two new reporters starting in July to work on-air and online across the state to examine poverty and public health. "We will look at people, practitioners and policymakers. We will talk with advocates, analysts and administrators. Most importantly, we will look at life from the ground up to give voice to those citizens seldom heard or seen in media today. We will take the time and do the hard digging to investigate government action - or inaction - at tate, tribal, county and municipal levels," he said.

A devastatingly long litany of health and poverty stats have keep New Mexico mired in last place, Towne said. "I believe that we, as citizens, have grown tired of every new study that moves us from 48th to 49th in the U.S. In fact, I worry that citizen fatigue and complacency has set in on the issues of poverty and public health," he added.

In New Mexico, one in five is uninsured. Nearly half the state lives at or near the federal poverty level. "Yes, nearly half the state. Just go look at the 2010 census data. You won't believe your eyes. As a public radio station licensed to serve the common good, we can not avert our eyes on this. We must create greater engagement through solid reporting and community dialogue on poverty and public health, brought to you as a public service by KUNM and our funding partners," Towne said.

Project funds become available to KUNM on July 1, 2012.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: cgonzal@unm.edu