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Cronkite School awarded grant to create high school newsrooms

September 26, 2007

The Stardust Foundation awarded a $510,000 grant to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University to fund a groundbreaking outreach initiative to create high school journalism programs in underserved communities in Arizona.


Ten Arizona high schools will be selected to participate in the Stardust High School Journalism Program. The Stardust program will create multimedia newsrooms in each school and help teach journalism advisers and students about the skills and values of journalism.


The Stardust Foundation is a non-profit corporation founded by Jerry Bisgrove in 1993. Headquartered in Scottsdale, the foundation is designed to selectively provide grants to organizations that impact the linked concepts of family and neighborhood stability. 


“Stardust values the opportunity to expose more students to careers in journalism,” Bisgrove said. “The communication skills they will learn in this program will be useful to them, regardless of their chosen profession. In today’s fast-paced, information-driven world, effective communication is vital to achieving success in all facets of one’s life.”


ASU President Michael Crow applauded Bisgrove and the Stardust Foundation initiative.


“ASU is committed to making a difference in the lives of our community members, and the Stardust High School Journalism Program is certain to make a lasting impact on the lives of the participating students,” he said.


The Stardust High School Journalism Program is believed to be the first university-based initiative in the country to create newsrooms in high schools, according to Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan.


Callahan said that while studies show high school journalism students do better in both high school and college, many high school journalism programs have fallen by the wayside, the victim of budget cuts and other priorities. The problem, he said, is particularly acute in schools with large minority populations, which are the least likely to publish student papers.


The media industry also has a stake, Callahan said. A majority of journalists became interested in the profession through exposure to their high school newspapers, so reaching minority and underserved students early will eventually create a larger pool of candidates for media companies.


“High school journalism programs provide students with opportunities to improve their writing and interpersonal skills and give school communities a forum for news and exchange of ideas,” Callahan said. “We are enormously grateful to the Stardust Foundation and Jerry Bisgrove for providing the leadership to help create these programs in underserved schools.”


The Stardust initiative is part of a broader Cronkite School effort to reach out to high schools. The school recently hired a new director for high school programs, Anita Luera, a longtime journalist and past president of the Arizona Latino Media Association.


For the first time this summer, the school hosted the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, a two-week fellowship program for 35 high school journalism instructors from around the country. Each year the school also hosts two daylong workshops for students interested in journalism as well as two summer journalism institutes that bring high school students to campus for a two-week immersion experience in journalism.


Schools interested in participating in the Stardust program should contact Luera, the school’s director of high school programs, at 480.965.5477.