McCormick Foundation gives $330K to accelerate School of Journalism expansion of News Literacy

Continuing its strong support, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation today announced a $330,000 grant to the Center for News Literacy to fund the delivery of training and materials demanded by the rapid spread of News Literacy courses.

At the 2011 Stony Brook News Literacy conference, Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation's Journalism Program Director, on left, speaking with Margaret Caldwell, a high school News Literacy teacher from New Hampshire.

At the 2011 Stony Brook News Literacy conference, Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation’s Journalism Program Director, on left, speaking with Margaret Caldwell, a high school News Literacy teacher from New Hampshire.

At the 2011 Stony Brook News Literacy conference, Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation’s Journalism Program Director, on left, speaking with Margaret Caldwell, a high school News Literacy teacher from New Hampshire.

“We are pleased to continue our support of Stony Brook’s cutting edge work in news literacy,” McCormick Journalism Program Director Clark Bell said after the McCormick board approved the grant. “The Center for News Literacy is the ‘go to’ source for training, resources and innovation in the field.”

At the 2011 Stony Brook News Literacy conference, Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation’s Journalism Program Director, on left, speaking with Margaret Caldwell, a high school News Literacy teacher from New Hampshire.

“This is a huge boost for us,” said Howard Schneider, Dean of the Stony Brook School of Journalism. “This grant will enable us to share the curriculum materials we are developing here at Stony Brook with a rapidly growing number of universities and high schools linked by a common mission: to teach the next generation of students how separate legitimate news accounts from misinformation, propaganda, spin, and uninformed assertion.”

“It’s never been more important,” said Schneider who is the creator of the standard News Literacy curriculum and teaches one of the 7 lectures offered in the fall semester.

The projects being funded were showcased during the School of Journalism’s 2011 national News Literacy Conference held at Stony Brook in March, attended by David Hiller, Chief Executive Officer of the McCormick Foundation along with Clark Bell, McCormick’s Journalism Program Director.

At the Stony Brook conference, News Literacy educators from across the country chose resources they need to accelerate the spread of News Literacy courses. The McCormick Foundation, which made News Literacy a central focus of its journalism program several years ago, then challenged Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy to turn those ideas into a grant proposal to support several of those initiatives. The proposal was approved by McCormick’s board of directors and will enable Stony Brook to facilitate the following initiatives:

  • Launch of a fifth summer training program for high school News Literacy teachers, in Chicago;
  • Redesign and re-launch of a richer Digital Resource Center stocked with free materials for News Literacy teachers;
  • Completion of development work underway on the nation’s first online for-credit training course for News Literacy teachers;
  • Two rounds of easy-to-apply-for News Literacy “Innovation Grants” for programmers and classroom teachers;
  • Development, testing and freeware-style sharing of an assessment tool high schools will use to measure the outcomes of News Literacy courses.

In addition, Stony Brook will use its national profile to drive traffic to News Literacy teaching tools that are being built at Florida Gulf Coast University, at News Trust in Mill Valley, CA and in other partner organizations.

Some 21 colleges and universities across the country have adopted all or part of the Stony Brook Model, a course aimed at teaching students how best to find reliable information for their lives as citizens. During the same time period, more than 40 high schools have added the Stony Brook Model as a stand-alone course or significant unit within an existing course. This fall, Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Council approved a proposal to offer News Literacy as a for-college-credit “ACE” course. Northport and East Oyster Bay High School on Long Island launched those courses this week.

“We’ve taken an open-source approach, sharing every element of Stony Brook Model, from syllabus to Blackboard™ documents at no cost,” said Dean Miller, Director of the Center for News Literacy. “The rapid spread of the course demonstrates the effectiveness of that approach and now the McCormick Foundation is giving us tools to keep up with the growing demand. They share our aspiration: News Literacy courses in all 50 states by 2017 and a slew of new digital tools that make it possible to teach one million students these essential skills for citizenship in the information age.”

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the nation’s largest foundations, with more than $1 billion in assets. For more information, please visit www.McCormickFoundation.org.