America’s Promise Alliance names 2011 Journalism Award winners for exemplary coverage of children and youth issues

Oct 18, 2011

America’s Promise Alliance has announced the winners of its 2011 Journalism Awards for Awareness and Action, naming the Seattle Times and Kansas City, MO’s KCTV5-TV as the top recipients. A new award, the Grad Nation Award for Education Reporting, was also granted to journalist Andrew Rotherham. America’s Promise Chair Alma Powell recognized the winners at an awards dinner on October 18 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. These awards, created in partnership with the Journalism Center on Children & Families, recognize the efforts of journalists working to raise awareness about the needs of young people and those that inspire communities to act on behalf of youth.

“Ensuring that our young people receive the fundamental resources that we call the Five Promises is a vital part of ending the high school dropout crisis and achieving our Grad Nation goals,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “The young people featured in this year’s winning entries like the girls with an 11-hour school day and the young man that dropped out of high school because he was living in a car are facing challenges that illustrate the importance of a safe place to call home in receiving an education. We thank this year’s Journalism Award recipients for giving a voice to the homeless children and families in their communities.”

Dana Wright, Ken Ullery and Chris Henao of KCTV5-TV were honored with the America’s Promise Journalism Award for Awareness for “Big Problem, Low Priority,” a series that powerfully illuminates the plight of homeless children in Kansas City, MO. In Kansas City, where the average age of a homeless person is seven years old, the mayor and county council were moved to prioritize and allocate funding to increase the availability of shelter space.

Mark Higgins, Nina Pardo and Danny Gawlowski of the Seattle Times were honored with the America’s Promise Journalism Award for Action for a series called, “Invisible Families,” a five-month project that illustrates the plight of homeless families through photos, text and video. In Seattle, donations and offers of assistance followed the appearance of the news series along with a Gates Foundation grant and a University of Seattle effort to combat homelessness.

In winning the Grad Nation Award for Education Reporting, Rotherham also was recognized during the event and received a $5,000 honorarium. Rotherham is co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education, a non-profit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. He also writes the weekly “School of Thought” column for as well as the blog and is the co-publisher of “Education Insider” a federal policy research tool produced by Whiteboard Advisors. Rotherham has founded or co-founded two other influential education reform organizations including Education Sector and served on the boards of several other successful education start-ups and is a former member of the Virginia Board of Education.

Rotherham is the author or co-author of more than 150 published articles, book chapters, papers, and op-eds about education policy and politics and is the author or editor of four books on educational policy. He serves on advisory boards and committees for a variety of organizations including Education Pioneers, The Broad Foundation, the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. (CALDER). Rotherham is on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Mind Trust, is Vice Chair of the Curry School of Education Foundation at the University of Virginia, and serves on the Visiting Committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Rotherham believes dramatic improvements in America’s education system are integral to ensuring equality of opportunity and building a more equitable and just society.

America’s Promise’s Journalism Award recipients were selected from the pool of winners from the 2011 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, which have been presented by the Journalism Center on Children & Families since 1994. The America’s Promise panel of judges selected one award recipient from each of two categories: Awareness and Action

  • Awareness entries were judged on whether the submission provided a fresh take on an existing issue, or highlighted a topic little-known to readers.
  • The Action Award was awarded based on the story’s ability to inspire action that led directly to community-wide change. Each winner received a $5,000 honorarium from America’s Promise in addition to receiving the Casey Medal and its $1,000 prize.

The Journalism Awards are sponsored by America’s Promise Board Member Jin Roy Ryu, and were inspired by Tim Russert, a distinguished America’s Promise Board Member who was a tireless advocate for the nation’s young people. Judges included:

  • Michael Bento, executive vice president of communications and marketing, Communities In Schools
  • Michael Bock, member, Impact Network of America’s Promise Alliance
  • Mark Carter, executive director, Committee of Concerned Journalists
  • Morton Kondracke, former executive editor and columnist, Roll Call; commentator, Fox News Channel
  • Martin McOmber, director of media relations, Casey Family Programs
  • Colleen Wilber, vice president of media relations, America’s Promise Alliance

The Journalism Center on Children & Families (JCCF) is a national nonprofit resource and training center committed to media coverage of children, youth and families, particularly the disadvantaged. Journalists come to JCCF for balanced sources, story ideas, unbiased information and the inspiration to cover critical social issues that impact families and communities. Since 1993, over 14,000 journalists have turned to the center for training, vetted sources, resources and story ideas on children and families.