Jan. 21, 2020  

Pompano Beach, Hagerty and Archbishop McCarthy High Schools Win 2020 Newsroom Grant

The Scholarship Committee of SPJ Florida is pleased to announce that it is awarding grants to three high school newsrooms in the Sunshine State: $500 to Pompano Beach High School in Pompano Beach, $400 to Hagerty High School in Oviedo, and $100 to Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches.

“Since the grant’s inception in 2018, the number of applicants has exploded and it’s harder and harder to narrow down the winners,” says committee chairwoman Christiana Lilly. “We are proud to award the three grants to go to three very different requests.”

Many newsrooms applied for the grant to help pay for printing costs. The Tornado Times at Pompano Beach High School, however, applied to buy their own high-quality printer to offset costs to publish weekly updates and will receive $500. The newspaper already decreased its publication from seven to four times a year.

“Despite our small staff—previously 12 members, currently five—we have maintained a bronze-level FSPA newsmagazine for the past three years,” Andrew Shipe, the newspaper’s adviser, wrote in the application. “We are a small but dedicated staff.”

The second school to receive a grant this round is The BluePrint at Hagerty High School, where students are working to expand their media program to include a podcast. The students requested $400 to purchase a microphone and other equipment to get started.

“Our newspaper staff gets no school funding,” wrote adviser Britt Taylor. “Everything is earned by the students, whether it is through finding local advertisements or working fundraisers. Right now we are having trouble even funding our print newspaper, but our staff has not let that stop them.”

Finally, with $100 left in the grant budget, the committee awarded the remaining money to Archbishop McCarthy High School, whose newsroom applied for a grant to send students to the Florida Scholastic Press Association’s state convention in late April. With much of the fundraising done by students going towards its newsroom, it leaves little left for continuing education at workshops like FSPA, according to Lydia Stutesman.

“Our kids had THE BEST time at Electrify 2019…but some kids couldn’t afford it and had to stay behind,” she wrote. “Many of our seniors have to choose between FSPA and Grad Bash festivities due to not only costs associated with each, but the timing of these events and the competitive costs of prom and graduation.”

SPJ Florida has offered scholarships for college students for years, including the newer Molly Turner College Scholarship for women in broadcast, and added its High School Newsroom Grant in 2018 to help at-need high school programs.

The chapter believes that early exposure and support of journalism leads to a strong foundation in news reporting and the First Amendment.

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