June 14, 2011; Source: Cleveland Heights Patch | There is so little educational coverage of the nonprofit sector that one can despair. But this three-part series from the online news upstart, patch.com on the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio – assuming parts two and three match the content and tone of part one – is a good example of explanatory press coverage of nonprofits.

Much of the public doesn’t really know what goes on inside nonprofits – what they face, how they think, where they’re heading. This patch.com article explains the operations of the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights, celebrating its 40th anniversary as it helps homeowners learn how to do their own home repairs.

At the same time, readers get a sense of the challenges this group faces, as it contemplates a potential cut in the Community Development Block Grant funds it gets from the city of Cleveland Heights, perhaps as much as 17 percent. According to patch.com, “The agency has prepared for the cuts by laying off one full-time instructor who taught home repair workshops to Cleveland Heights residents and will be replaced by volunteers and a part-time clerical worker,” which HRRC director Kathryn Lad says will keep programs operating at their current level for this year, but “down the future, I don’t know.”

Some people have claimed that the network of patch.com news outlets represents a big step toward social change in the U.S. That may be an exaggeration, but series like this one on HRRC do represent a kind of civic education through journalism that used to be a mainstay of the U.S. press.—Rick Cohen