The California Divide

A statewide media collaboration to raise awareness about poverty and income inequality through in-depth journalism and community outreach.

Media Partners:

From the mountains of the Klamath Basin to the deserts of the Imperial Valley, and from the beaches of Santa Monica Bay to the orchards of Kern County, the California dream has turned into the California divide. With America’s highest poverty rates, Californians are struggling to pay for shelter and food even if they are employed. Nearly four out of every 10 are living in poverty or on the brink. And the gap between rich and poor is among the nation’s largest — and still growing. 

Through local storytelling by our journalists throughout the state, The California Divide explains what is happening and why. Our coverage shares the personal struggles of Californians trying to get ahead and holds leaders accountable for restoring the dream.

The California Divide, By the Numbers

From Our Newsroom

Our Projects

Dental patients face years of debt, inflated bills

By Manuela Tobias | HEALTH

Our Topics

Health and Environment
Economic Inequality
Public Assistance
Criminal Justice

About this project

Our Partners

The California Divide is a collaboration of media organizations representing more than 35 California newspapers. It is directed by a CalMatters hub editor who works with editors and reporters in local newsrooms to coordinate and share coverage. The partners include:

  • USA Today Network-California, part of the Gannett Co., is hosting a reporter at The Salinas Californian. 
  • McClatchy Co. is hosting two reporters at the Fresno Bee.
  • Media News Group is hosting a reporter at The Mercury News in San Jose.
  • ImpreMedia is hosting a reporter at La Opinión in Los Angeles.

Other newsrooms will also participate in parts of the project.

Our Funders

The California Divide project is funded through individual donations and foundation grants to CalMatters. Specific support for the project comes from:

  • The James Irvine Foundation
  • Report for America
  • The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation
  • Stephen Silberstein
  • Ann and John Doerr
  • Howard Wollner
  • Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • The Goldhirsh Foundation
  • The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Our Journalists

Jackie Botts

Jackie Botts, reporter. Jackie is a reporter at CalMatters based in Sacramento. She is a member of Report for America and received her graduate degree in journalism from Stanford University. Contact: Email

Kate Cimini

Kate Cimini, reporter. Kate is a reporter at The Californian in Salinas. Her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, VICE ESPN, the Houston Chronicle, USA Today and others. Contact: Email

Marla Cone

Marla Cone, Deputy Editor. Marla is a deputy editor at CalMatters based in Los Angeles. She previously was senior editor/science at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a senior editor at National Geographic Magazine and an environmental reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 18 years. Contact: Email

Nigel Duara

Nigel Duara, reporter. Nigel is a reporter at CalMatters based in Los Angeles. He most recently worked as a Los Angeles-based national and climate correspondent at VICE News Tonight on HBO. Previously, he was a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Contact: Email

Erica Hellerstein

Erica Hellerstein, reporter. Erica is a reporter at The Mercury News in San Jose. She is an award-winning investigative journalist and received her graduate degree from UC Berkeley. Contact: Email

David Lesher

David Lesher, Editor in Chief. David is editor and co-founder of CalMatters based in Sacramento. He is a former think tank director and former reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Times. Contact: Email

Jacqueline Garcia

Jacqueline Garcia, reporter. Jacqueline is a reporter at La Opinión in Los Angeles who has covered myriad issues, including immigration, politics and education. She previously reported for Hispanic Link News Service in Washington D.C. Contact: Email

Manuela Tobias

Manuela Tobias, reporter. Manuela is a reporter at the Fresno Bee. She is a former staff writer for PolitiFact and a graduate of Georgetown University. Contact: Email

Each participating news organization has appointed a lead editor to coordinate coverage with the project:

  • McClatchy: Robert Salladay
  • Media News Group: Rebecca Salner
  • USA TODAY NETWORK: Silas Lyons
  • La Opinión: Agustin Duran


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