Getting Connected: Local solutions to improve digital inclusion

March 4, 2021 via Zoom: Meet the people advocating for better access and opportunity to digital tools in Kansas City. The conversation will cover the state of digital inclusion in the region, and the community connectivity solutions ensuring every household can use the internet. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 15% of households in Kansas City don’t have an internet subscription, and 7% have no computer at home. With many adults and students working and learning from home during the pandemic, the consequences of these disparities have become even more pronounced. 

This winter, The Beacon is reporting on potential solutions to tackle digital inequalities and ensure more people have access to internet and the ability to use it. Our reporting on digital inclusion is made possible through a partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network. 

COVID-19 Help Desk: Equitable vaccine access

Feb. 24, 2021 via Zoom: While early policy was meant to assure fair and equitable COVID-19 vaccine access, the situation with vaccinations is constantly changing and some residents may face barriers in getting information for the vaccine, or enrolling to receive it. Adding to the challenge, some communities may be hesitant to receive the vaccine for reasons including mistrust of medical professionals due to historical mistreatment, fear of potential side effects and concern about the timeframe of the vaccine’s creation.

Join us for a live event focused on general vaccine questions, Kansas and Missouri distribution plans, and the local organizations working to ensure residents have vaccine access regardless of where they live or systemic limitations to health care. 

Wellness Webinar: Supporting children’s mental health during COVID-19

Feb. 8, 2021 via Zoom: The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty and new barriers for children, family members, caregivers, educators and service providers. In conversations with local experts, this event will address the pandemic’s impact on children’s mental health. Experts will focus on best practices to manage mental and physical health care, coping with increased stressors, and access to resources for children and their families, with an emphasis on children learning in virtual environments.

This forum will be beneficial for health care and service professionals, educators, family members, and caregivers.

Members Only: Behind The Beacon

Dec. 8, 2020 via Zoom: Attention Beacon members! Join Joel Goldberg, sports host and announcer, in conversation with Beacon founder Kelsey Ryan, and Beacon board member Kerri Voyles.

What’s it like starting a newsroom during a pandemic? Why are nonprofit newsrooms growing as legacy media declines? What major projects are ahead for The Beacon in 2021? Come nerd out with a behind-the-scenes look at The Beacon’s effort to save journalism in the Midwest. 

Election Reflections: What happened in Missouri and Kansas

Nov. 13, 2020 via Zoom: Debriefing the 2020 election with the local leaders working in Missouri and Kansas. We can’t predict how the 2020 election will play out, but one thing is for certain: It will be historic. 

Join us for a free virtual event with the local leaders involved in election administration and voting efforts. The conversation will break down what happened on Election Day, including issues at the polls and election results. Recording here.

Voting: Simple Answers to Straight Questions

Oct. 30, 2020 via Zoom: What election questions do you want answered? What do you want to know about voting on Election Day? What voting information would you like to share with friends and family? This event for Missouri and Kansas voters will answer common community questions about voting on Election Day. 

Join The Beacon’s simple answers to straight questions with the local leaders working on the 2020 Election. The conversation will give clarity to issues around voting logistics and help attendees make a plan to vote safely. 

Note: The purpose of this event is to ensure that people have the information they need to vote safely on Election Day. This is a non-partisan event and guests will not advocate for any specific candidates nor get into the nuts and bolts about specific ballot measures. Recording here.

Mobilizing Voters in a Pandemic: From Registration to Election Day

Sept. 22, 2020 via Zoom: Voting can be difficult even in the best of times. At a time when the country is dealing with a raging pandemic, an economic recession, and mass protests against injustice, the results of the 2020 election could significantly alter the nation’s direction.

Join The Beacon for a conversation with local leaders working to activate voters for the 2020 Election. Panelists will discuss the status of voting rights, challenges in communities with low voter turnout, as well as vital general information on the 2020 Election. The conversation will give clarity to issues around voting logistics and help attendees make a plan to vote safely. 

  • Paula Owen Willmarth, National Women’s Political Caucus
  • Christopher McKinney, VoteKC
  • Davis Hammet, Loud Light

What questions do you have about how our community is preparing for Election Day?Recording here.

How Protests Spread to Small Town Missouri and Kansas

July 23, 2020 via Zoom: Protests in big cities like Kansas City have garnered attention, but across the U.S., small towns are mobilizing in numbers that haven’t been seen before. An analysis by The Beacon shows that more than 50 small and mid-sized towns across Kansas and Missouri have held protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement since late May. Our guests will discuss why these areas are stepping up, even as they tend to be predominately white with no history of protesting. 

  • Teresa Delgado, protest organizer in Hutchinson, Kansas
  • Tasha Samudzi, protest organizer in Maryville, Missouri
  • David Cunningham, sociology professor at Washington University at St. Louis 
  • D’Andre Phillips Coble, protest organizer in Pittsburg, Kansas

What questions do you have about protests? What concerns do you have about social issues in small and mid-sized towns? Recording here.

Reimagining Policing: A solutions-driven approach to ending brutality

June 19, 2020 via Zoom: Recent well-publicized killings of unarmed African Americans by the police have sparked wide-spread protests and prompted new conversations about police reform and accountability. What can be done to create lasting change? How can grassroots efforts approach police reform in a way that includes valuable lessons from other communities? Reporter and moderator Annie Le will share reader questions.

  • Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2, the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity 
  • Justice Gatson, social justice organizer with Reale Justice Network

What questions do you have about protesting and potential solutions to police brutality? What concerns do you have about Kansas City area police departments? Recording here.

Behind local news: Journalism ethics and protest coverage

June 8, 2020 via Zoom: Join The Beacon for an inside look at how newsrooms are covering protests.

  • Celisa Calacal, Beacon reporter at protests
  • Kelsey Ryan, Beacon publisher

Recording here.

Come to Your Census: What’s at stake in the 2020 count

June 5, 2020 via Zoom: How is Census response is being impacted by COVID-19? What we can all do to make sure our communities are fairly represented? We’re joined by two guests:

  • Jenny Garmon, Legal and Government Information Specialist at Kansas City Public Library
  • Irene Caudillo, President of El Centro

Recording here.

How will nonprofits survive a pandemic?

May 18, 2020 via Zoom: Join Beacon reporter Celisa Calacal as we discuss how local nonprofits are helping get KC through the pandemic. We’ll be joined by three guests:

Recording here.

Where has all the toilet paper gone?

May 1, 2020 via Zoom: It’s no secret that items like flour and toilet paper are hard to come by these days. The coronavirus has not only upended our daily lives — it’s also causing disruptions in the supply chain. Those disruptions are trickling down to truck drivers, many of whom are still on the roads, delivering produce and medical supplies across the country. As truck drivers continue to do their jobs, they’re finding it difficult to find a hot meal, cleaning supplies, and even an open rest stop. Details here.

Engage: A (virtual) community listening circle

April 7, 2020 via Zoom: All of our lives have changed quickly, and in different ways. What’s really remarkable is that the whole world is uniting around solving this problem. Inspired by the spirit of those singing from the Italian balconies, we wondered how we might come together as a community to learn from one another and uncover ways forward.

This is a chance for members of our community to learn from one another about what’s working, and what’s not. It’s a chance for us to suggest and design solutions for our community’s deepest needs. And it’s a chance for local journalists to learn about how we can be more community-led as we cover COVID-19 in Missouri and Kansas. Details here.


March 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo.: Trust in journalism is down. Let’s talk about fixing it. Join a diverse group of community stakeholders for a solutions-oriented dialogue on news skepticism and how journalism can reorganize to earn public trust in Kansas City. Registration is FREE but required. Snacks will be provided for all registered participants. The Beacon is a nonprofit in-depth journalism outlet launching in Kansas City in 2020. We’re committed to building relationships and earning trust in the communities we serve. Register here.


Feb. 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo.: As newsroom staffs dramatically shrink, the scope of journalistic coverage has changed in our communities. Join a diverse group of community stakeholders for a dialogue on unmet local news needs and how journalism can reorganize for public good and real-world change in Kansas City. Registration is FREE but required. Breakfast will be provided to all registered participants. The Beacon is a nonprofit in-depth journalism outlet launching in Kansas City in 2020. We’re committed to building relationships in the communities we serve. Register here.


Feb. 6, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo.: Join a diverse group of community stakeholders for a dialogue on local journalism and how it must reorganize for collective change. Breakout sessions will engage you in a deeper discussion of local media and the roles we each play in supporting journalism. Topics include: 

  • Unmet news coverage needs in our community
  • How journalists can operate out of a sense of equity to benefit communities with the least access to public affairs news
  • Partnerships and resources for community engagement

Registration is FREE but required. Snacks and beverages will be provided to all registered participants. Register here.


Nov. 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Mo.: As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City #GEWKC, hosted by KC Sourcelink, Beacon Founder Kelsey Ryan will talk about steps she took after an unexpected layoff. Over the next year, she learned how to formulate a business plan, pitch to funders and launch a nonprofit from the ground up. She’ll share her biggest takeaways and tips for how you can do it, too. Sessions are free. Register here.


May 21, 2019 in Wichita, Kan.: Join us for the release of the KLC Journal magazine’s Spring Edition: Missing the News—The Future of Journalism in Kansas Communities. As newspapers face declines in staffing and circulation, more and more communities are “missing the news,” with less in-depth reporting on local issues. The gap in coverage has become more noticeable since the recent acquisition by out-of-state corporations of newspapers in Hutchinson, Lawrence and other outlets across the state.

Managing Editor Chris Green will discuss the Journal’s lead story with writer Joel Mathis and interview Kelsey Ryan, former reporter for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star who is launching a nonprofit online news organization. KLC President and CEO Ed Ed O’Malley will facilitate large and small group discussion with attendees. Recording here.

Read The Journal’s article:


May 29, 2019 at Plexpod Westport Commons in Kansas City, Mo.: Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed 1 Million Cups in 2012—a free program designed to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. Through the power of volunteers, 1 Million Cups has grown to more than 180 communities.

See The Beacon’s presentation here:


May 7, 2019 at Bier Station in Kansas City, Mo.: Fellow journalists, recovering journalists and folks generally concerned about the state of local journalism: Bring a friend, buy a pint and support The Beacon, a new nonprofit in-depth journalism venture in KC.

A short presentation and Q&A will be at 7 p.m. upstairs. There will be plenty of time to mingle before and after. Crane Brewing Company has graciously donated a keg to our cause and we will sell drink tickets for $6. More here.


May 2, 2019 at The Wave in Wichita, Kan.: “Women in Tech: More Than a Talk,” features four female tech leaders.

Through this event we are Inspiring a new generation of women to learn tech. Tech empowers female entrepreneurs to come up with unique solutions to new problems. We’re looking forward to hearing Kelsey talk about how the tech industry has disrupted journalism.