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Grant aids digital journalism

Father Garanzini discusses the Loyola and Senn High School partnership at a May 2012 press conference as Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks on.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation has given Loyola University Chicago a $50,000 grant to work with Senn High School to help develop the high school’s programs in journalism and news literacy.

The grant is part of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s Why News Matters campaign, a three-year, $6 million initiative to help improve news literacy among people of all ages.

Colonel Robert R. McCormick, a previous publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune, left a clause in his will to establish a “charitable trust” in his name that would help support and promote literacy to everyone in Illinois, especially regarding matters of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Loyola and Senn have been working together for several years now, as Loyola students have been placed in the Edgewater high school to complete their field hours and student-teaching. This relationship advanced in May 2012 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Loyola to partner with the school on a new initiative.

Senn is starting to transition its curriculum to a full International Baccalaureate program. As part of that transition, Loyola’s School of Communication is helping implement a new digital journalism program that will enable students to integrate their learning from across the new curriculum.

The School of Communication is working with the School of Education on these projects.

Don Heider, dean of the School of Communication, says this partnership is going to affect both Loyola and Senn students positively.

“High school students love learning from college students. Part of the principal’s [Susan Lofton] efforts at Senn is getting more students to think about college. Having college students in the building modeling for kids and showing how much fun and exciting college can be is really going to help,” Dean Heider says.

The grant funds will be dispersed among several areas of the proposed program. Dean Heider says he hired a coordinator to serve as the liaison between Loyola and Senn and work through the logistics of the new program. Additionally, Loyola will purchase equipment for Senn based off what Senn decides it can use. Dean Heider is also planning for field trips to television and radio stations and teacher-training sessions.

Dean Heider says that Loyola is in a fortunate position, so it should take advantage of that and help others in the community.

“We are in one of the greatest media cities. Let’s share it,” he says. “There are too many high school kids who really want to learn but don’t have the resources? We should invest in the community in some way.”

Dean Heider says he is excited to help Senn develop its curriculum and help Lofton on her mission to improve the school.

“Our goal is to get [the Senn students] excited about communication, journalism, and college and what these careers might look like,” he says.

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