Private donors needed to prevent ‘Contributor’ from ending publication


Nashville's popular street newspaper, The Contributor could be forced to end the publication if private donors don't step up to help.

The Contributor's Executive Director Tasha French Lemley said they realized earlier this month they only had about six weeks of operating expenses left.

The street newspaper, which helps area homeless earn an income, operates under a $650,000 annual budget.

Vendors purchase each issue of The Contributor for 25 cents each, which makes up about half of the non-profit's annual earnings, before reselling the newspaper for $1.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the same customers that are making this the highest circulating street newspaper in North America are the same customers that are going to step up and say, ‘Wow, I didn't realize this organization needed our support,'”  Lemley, who co-founded the paper, said.

The 400 vendors who sell the newspaper were notified of the financial problems Wednesday.

Since beginning six and a half years ago, Lemely said the paper has helped many people rebuild their lives.

“When we started the paper we never thought people would actually get off the streets utilizing this income, but because of our huge circulation they have. We are finding consistently that one-third of our vendors have got housing since beginning to sell our papers,” said Lemley.

Contributor vendor Anita Smith added, “It gave me the opportunity to start looking at myself closely in the mirror and changing my life tremendously. Today, I am free from a domestic violence relationship, free from alcohol.”

The Contributor began publishing two issues per month in February 2012.

The newspaper needs to raise about $375,000 each year, or $30,000 per month, in private money to continue operations.

For more information on The Contributor, visit their Web site.

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