Professional Development’s newsroom is growing with two new Report for America fellows

Donte Kirby and Michael Butler will cover tech access issues in Baltimore and Philadelphia, respectively, thanks to support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Donte Kirby (L) and Michael Butler. (Courtesy photos; image via Canva)
When times are weird, it’s nice to have some good news to share.

Earlier this week, while introducing our new Journalism Fund, we also teased that our team would be expanding. Now, we’re so excited to officially announce that we’re bringing on not just one, but two new reporters — one in Baltimore, one in Philadelphia — to cover innovation economies through the Report for America fellowship program.

For up to two years, these journalists will report specifically on issues of equity and access in these rapidly changing mid-Atlantic cities, aka the tech economy impact beat. Here’s a little about each of them:

Donte Kirby will join in Baltimore. Currently based in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia, Kirby has spent the last year-and-a-half as an education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Rwanda, where he taught English to over 150 students. Before that, as a freelance journalist, he wrote for hyperlocal publications such as (hey!), JUMP Philly, The Philadelphia Citizen and Generocity covering arts, social impact and community development. The Temple University grad and breakdancer became interested in journalism after he was named a Wallis Annenberg scholar his sophomore year of high school.

“I wanted to join RFA because it felt like the natural progression from the Peace Corps, a service-oriented organization that values the communities it serves,” Kirby said. “I’m most excited about diving headfirst into Baltimore’s Black Butterfly and learning about the city.”

Michael Butler will join in Philly, where he moved in 2010 to participate in the AmeriCorps program CityYear and later interned at Philadelphia Weekly. The bilingual Temple grad grew up in Augusta, Georgia, as part of a military family and moved several times over the course of his life. As a freelance journalist, he has reported on under-resourced communities for WHYY and on culture and the arts for Okayplayer and Remezcla. In 2019, he was one of the recipients of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism’s inaugural Next Generation Award grant as well as selected by the Maynard Institute for Journalism to be a Maynard 200 fellow.

“I’m excited to report on the disparities not always discussed in Philly’s tech economy,” Butler said. “Tech plays a role in all of our lives and I am interested in sharing perspectives that reflect the diversity of Philly’s population.”

Kirby and Butler are members of Report for America’s 2020-2021 corps, made up of 225 total journalists reporting on under-covered communities across 45 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. is able to make this investment in local journalism at a time when local newsrooms around the country are getting crushed by a pandemic-prompted recession thanks to the support of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation in Baltimore and the Lenfest Institute in Philly, in addition to Report for America’s parent nonprofit, The GroundTruth Project.

These impressive young reporters will join our now-five-person newsroom, currently made up of these fine folks: Managing Editor Julie Zeglen (hi), Assistant Editor Stephen Babcock, DC Market Editor Michelai Graham, Philly Lead Reporter Paige Gross and Delaware Lead Reporter Holly Quinn (and in camaraderie with Generocity Editor Sabrina Vourvoulias).

We look forward to bringing you more and deeper reporting on your changing communities, as well as solutions for making the riches of the tech industry more accessible to all. Support our work anytime here, and follow along by subscribing to our newsletters here.

Companies: Lenfest Institute for Journalism / Report for America / Robert W. Deutsch Foundation /

Join the conversation!

Find news, events, jobs and people who share your interests on's open community Slack


Delaware daily roundup: Delmarva Power vendor stats; DelDOT's $15M federal grant; 50 best companies to work for

Philly daily roundup: Women's health startup wins pitch; $204M for internet access; 'GamingWalls' for sports venues

Delaware daily roundup: Over 4,000 Black-owned businesses uncovered; Dover makes rising cities list; a push for online sports betting

DC daily roundup: Inside UMCP's new ethical AI project; HBCU founder excellence; a big VC shutters MoCo office

Technically Media