Effective Journalism Is Now Part of Our College Completion Mission

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
by Cynthia Rivera Weissblum, President and CEO, Edwin Gould Foundation
For many years, The Edwin Gould Foundation has awarded grants to programs that promote low-income college completion. But we had a nagging feeling that, while supporting organizations that in turn helped individuals and cohorts of students was an effective strategy for a foundation of our size, it was only addressing a part of the problem. We wondered if there might be ways of nurturing a larger, more wide-ranging public discussion of the challenges our target populations face and what policies must change to level the educational playing field of all children. 
To that end, we’ve been making strategic investments that help promote vigorous education journalism that touches, either directly or indirectly, on the issues that face the children we care most deeply about. This spring, we announced “The Eddie”—three awards ($10,000, and two $2500 cash prizes and a bowler hat for each winner—Edwin Gould’s signature fedora) to recognize and promote journalism that advances the national discussion about low-income college completion. The response was overwhelming and very heartening indeed -- we received over 30 entries from media organizations both celebrated and obscure. You can read about the winners of “The Eddie” on our website. 
To enhance the impact of the Eddie, we’re awarding the prizes at the culmination of a day-long conference on low-income college completion at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism to be held on March 20th. The conference, which will feature speakers including Pulitzer Prize winners David Leonhardt, Jacques Steinberg, the Century Foundation’s Richard Kahlenberg and Mark Schneider from American Institutes for Research, will be attended by 40 or so journalists and pre-service journalists. 
Our aim is to celebrate the best work being done now on this topic and advocate for additional work on the issue of low-income college completion in the years to come. You can learn more about our conference on CUNY’s website.  
In addition, we are also supporting a portion of the Education Writers Association annual conference being held on Chicago in April. 
We plan to continue to support great programs that improve low-income college completion and are proud to be able to support the kind of vigorous public discussion and trenchant analysis that helps advance social policy around the issue of equity in education. We’re also interested in hearing from other funders who are supporting journalism and related media to compliment their primary grantmaking areas to learn from their experiences.  
We expect “The Eddie” will increase public discussion of the many factors affecting college completion and we hope part of the discussion will also be with other funders about the efficacy of this strategy. 
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