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News School Graduates Are Certified and Credentialed Through Chicago’s One Summer Jobs!

ChicagoI’m Just Saying

In my 30 plus years of working with City, State and Community Based Organizations as a workforce development specialist, I have rarely come across a youth program that has achieved the outcomes of the collaboration between Phalanx Family Services and Saint Agatha’s News School. This program began in the summer of 2017 as a Youth Program during the last week of June and ended seven weeks later with 12 One Summer Chicago participants receiving Certificates of Completion. However, only 7 qualified as Certified Citizen Journalists and received media credentials and passes. This opportunity even led 5 of the 7 Certified Citizen Journalists to continue working well into the Fall completing investigative research, conducting interviews to obtain raw stories and selling adds.

The intensive boot camp was held Monday through Friday for 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week, located inside of the Saint Agatha Church, at 3151 W. Douglas Boulevard in North Lawndale.

The program started with over 20 youth who were referred from a myriad of other community based organizations thru the One Summer Chicago network, but the candidates who were referred through Phalanx had been thoroughly screened and were anxious to take full advantage of The News School’s intense, disciplined, and unconventional curriculum.

Highlights of the boot camp experience included trips to The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times and a daily dose of some Greek and Latin. The students who completed the program published articles and achieved a sense of accomplishment that many said they did not know they had it in them! After all, you are what you are exposed to.

The News School program is designed to cultivate and inspire young people thru a boldly inclusive platform from which a unique educational experience is delivered. The News School (TNS) boot camp program guides potential writers, bloggers, columnists and media types alike through a unique transformative process that illuminates, simplifies and intelligently connects rules that govern the art of written communication. TNS instructors empower and direct the young trainees to arrange and frame grammar rules so that they are essentially more accessible and far more fun to adopt compared to the traditional reading and writing methods they had previously been exposed to.

Upon successfully completing the program, each student is certified. The certification opens the door for them to be paid to write for any one of seven TNS publications. Youth graduates of the program are now better equipped to pursue careers as Columnists, Copywriters, Food and Arts Reviewer, Writing Tutors, Scriptwriters and entrepreneurial bloggers.

As a testimonial to their accomplishment, the graduating class produced Windy City Highlights Magazine, a class ending project that highlights each young person’s ability to write, design, and publish.

The articles published online and the magazine the participants construct at the end of the program validates that our youth can and will learn if the proper tools and resources are in place. My hat is off to Father Larry Dowling of Saint Agatha’s and Tina Sanders of Phalanx Family Services for collaborating and providing our summer youth a unique and dynamic program model that should be administered all year round, I’m Just Saying!

Written by James Cannon

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