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T-Squared: Coming Soon, a Border Bureau

Good news, Trib fans: We've received a grant from the Ford Foundation that will enable us to dramatically expand our coverage of how precipitous demographic shifts are altering the public policy landscape in Texas.

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I'm pleased to announce that we've received a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, one of the most-respected philanthropic institutions in the world, that will enable us to dramatically expand our coverage of how precipitous demographic shifts are altering the public policy landscape in Texas.

No one who's paying even the slightest attention needs to be told that the changes in our population over the last decade-plus have had a transformational impact. Between 2000 and 2010, Texas grew from 20 million residents to 25 million. Eighty-nine percent of the 5 million people added to the rolls were non-Anglo; 65 percent were Hispanic. In the first decade of the 21st century, the Latino population grew in 228 of 254 Texas counties, while the Anglo population declined in 161 counties. In 2000, the population of Texans 5 and younger was 44 percent Latino and 40 percent Anglo; in 2040, according to former State Demographer Steve Murdock, it is expected to be 70 percent Latino and 18 percent Anglo.

Numbers like those are a roadmap for public service journalists, and they've led us to where we ought to be anyway: the Texas-Mexico border. Sometime this summer, thanks to the Ford grant, we'll open our first bureau there. It will be in El Paso, and the excellent Trib reporter Julián Aguilar, whose expertise on race and immigration has been crucial to our evolution as a successful news organization, will be moving back to his hometown to staff it. His charge will be to travel east to Harlingen and south into Mexico, to big cities and small towns, to write about the political and policy challenges and opportunities created by our coming Hispanic majority status.

Additionally, we'll be adding a new reporter on the demography beat in Austin, to live inside the numbers and produce in-depth, multi-platform stories for our site, our New York Times pages and our network of print, broadcast and online partners. Data has been a part of everything we do at the Trib, so it should come as no surprise that we'll also build our share of applications, interactives, visualizations and the like. And, of course, there will be events: Inspired by all this activity, we'll take the conversation about the New Texas on the road, to college campuses, senior centers and everywhere in between.

The Ford grant, in combination with others we've received in recent weeks from the Knight Foundation, Houston Endowment, the Mitchell Foundation and the Sid Richardson Foundation, make it possible for us to do better, more imaginative and more ambitious work consistent with our mission as a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization. This is great news for Texas and for the cause of serious journalism that we champion each day. 

Thank you, Ford Foundation. We can't wait to get started.

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