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Latino journalism program receives largest grant in CMN history

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 00:02


The Robert R. McCormick Foundation awarded DePaul University’s journalism program Pasos al Futuro, a summer journalism workshop that encourages Latino high school students to pursue careers in journalism, with the largest grant -- $120,000 -- the College of Communication has ever received.

Pasos al Futuro, Spanish for “steps towards the future,” teaches students of all ethnicities and backgrounds the skills and tools necessary in the professional field of journalism, such as reporting, interviewing and editing, while instilling in them the significance and impact of Latino culture in America.

More than 50 students from the Chicago Public High School League will be given the opportunity to benefit from this workshop. There is no cost for students to participate in this program, and many participants often go on to enroll at DePaul. The grant will enable DePaul to expand the program even further and reach out to more of Chicago’s Latino high school students. Pasos al Futuro has grown by almost 700 percent since its inception three years ago.

The McCormick Foundation’s mission, according to their website, is to “create an informed, news-literate and engaged citizenry through quality content, audience education and protection of press freedoms.”

Many of DePaul’s experts have much confidence in this relatively new program and support its endeavors. “Programs like (Pasos al Futuro) are important because … they get participants thinking about what they want their future to look like, in regards to career possibilities and how to make that happen,” said Ximena Beltran, DePaul’s news media specialist.

Beltran said that Pasos al Futuro’s influence is largely significant because of the demographic it is targeting. Students who participate in the program “may be first-generation Americans (who do not) know the choices available to them,” said Beltran.

Cristina Benitez, DePaul’s director of Latino media and communication, said the program promotes the “advancement of Latinos in society.” She also said that the new grant from the McCormick Foundation will help with outreach and it will be established as a “robust program” that will last much longer. In addition, Benitez believes that Pasos al Futuro is “even more valuable” because of DePaul’s Vision 2018 program that hopes to foster diversity and inclusion. She also thinks the program echoes President Barack Obama’s renewed emphasis on diversity in the U.S.

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