KSU Center for Sustainable Journalism receives two individual grants

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 20, 2018

Private foundations provide ongoing support of Center’s publishing portfolio

The Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ) at Kennesaw State University has received two individual grants – totaling $500,000 – from The Tow Foundation and The Wallace Foundation to provide continued support of the Center’s publication activities that focus on youth justice and child welfare issues.

The Tow Foundation awarded a three-year $300,000 grant to support the editorial operations of the Center’s New York City bureau housed in the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY). The Wallace Foundation awarded a two-year $200,000 grant to advance the work of the Center’s Youth Today, an online publication for professionals working in the field of youth services such as nonprofit after-school programs.

“The continuing support from both of these highly respected foundations allows us to provide solutions-oriented journalism coverage about youth who are often unheard. That in turn serves the KSU mission to be actively involved in community concerns. For us that means helping improve the lives of youth, their families and communities,” said Leonard Witt, executive director for the Center.

In 2012, with start-up funds from The Tow Foundation, the Center for Sustainable Journalism created the Youth Justice New York Metro Bureau to extend the reach and coverage of the Center’s national online publication, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE). Daryl Khan, who serves as the bureau chief and as a CUNY adjunct professor, produces investigative stories as well as teaches and mentors CUNY students who also contribute text, photojournalism and multimedia stories on youth justice and related issues for JJIE.

With this third round of funding from The Tow Foundation, the Center for Sustainable Journalism will produce even more stories by expanding its writers’ base to recent CUNY graduates who are already familiar with JJIE’s content. The Connecticut-based foundation is dedicated to supporting programs and system reform in areas of juvenile and criminal justice, medical research, higher education and cultural institutions, and has supported the Center’s New York bureau for the last six years.

“Leonard and the late Claire Tow’s vision to help the marginalized in our society, Emily Tow Jackson’s leadership and their collective belief that a foundation must be knowledgeable about issues it supports have allowed The Tow Foundation to have a major impact in the juvenile justice arena,” explained Witt. “We are privileged to be their partner with our shared visions of ensuring that all youth are treated equally and justly.”  

The Wallace Foundation has been supporting the work and sustainability of Youth Today since the Center for Sustainable Journalism acquired the publication in 2012 when financial challenges almost caused its dissolution. The foundation, located in New York, supports programs to improve learning and enrichment opportunities for disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts for all.

Youth Today, which now is only an online publication, began as a nationally distributed subscription-based newspaper in 1984, with in-depth reporting on social issues affecting young people, including after-school programs, summer programs and arts programs, and their impact upon children.

“The Wallace and Tow foundations have been key supporters for several years now. That support has allowed us to provide the in-depth coverage these issues need and our readers deserve,” said John Fleming, executive editor of the Center for Sustainable Journalism.

Part of the initial funding from The Wallace Foundation supported the paid internships, mentorship and employment of about 70 KSU students who came from different majors, including business and communications. These students work in the marketing and advertising side as well as circulation sales to increase the Youth Today audience.

In fact, Chelsey Tabakian Odom, business operations manager for the Center for Sustainable Journalism, began as a student worker while studying marketing in KSU’s Coles College of Business during her junior year.

“With great training and success in various positions while a student, upon graduation I went into management full-time,” she said. “Working at the CSJ has been the most rewarding experience. I now get to work with students and mentor them just like I was while in college. I look forward to many more impactful years at the CSJ.”

The Center for Sustainable Journalism was founded at KSU in 2010 by Witt with a generous gift from the Harnisch Foundation. The Center supports the practice of civic or community-supported journalism within a nonprofit operational model through applied research and collaborations to deliver high-quality ethically sound content.

Joëlle Walls

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.