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Scripps Howard Foundation awards $300K to UNT to support diversity in journalism

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 01:28:05-04

DENTON, TX — The Scripps Howard Foundation is investing $600,000 into diversity, a cause that means so much to the company and those with the University of North Texas.

"The Scripps Howard Foundation has always been committed to inclusivity and diversity, and now they are really empowering the universities to help in this endeavor," explained Dr. Andrea Miller, dean of the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

Benefiting from that grant is Elon University in North Carolina and the University of North Texas. Each college will receive $300,000 to enhance or create programs that inspire high school students to embark in journalism careers.

UNT is known as a minority-serving institution, where more than 50% of its students are of color. The grant is an investment into helping future journalists reflect that diversity.

"We know that across the nation, people of color are underrepresented in our newsrooms, and this grant hopes to make a dent in that and turn that around," said Dr. Miller.

UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism will expand its high school program, which provides juniors, seniors and recent grads with paid internships.

It's an experience they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

"Probably the thing we're most proud of is that it is going to give young people the hope to continue in this industry. And so we are targeting communities of color, we're targeting people who, up to this point, have had to face so many barriers and mainly one of those is unpaid internships and that's something we're really passionate about," said Leah Waters, director of the High School Multimedia Workshop for the Mayborn School of Journalism.

Through the program, the Dallas Morning News and KERA will welcome interns and establish mentor programs to create a pipeline of young talent.

"Mentorship is one of the key predictors of success and longevity in our industry, because if you are at it alone and you don't know where to go or who to talk to, it can be a really hard industry to get into and also to stay in," said Waters.

The program will stretch over a three-year period. For its first year, only 20 Texas students will be selected through a rigorous application and interview process.

"It's just a way for us to give back to the craft and profession that we have given so much to and we feel is so important," said Dr. Miller.

Applications open on April 2. To apply, click here.