Student Voice Journalism Fellowship

The Student Voice Journalism Fellowship is a mentoring program for student storytellers interested in affecting the education dialogue.

Photo of Christopher Maximos
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Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Main Webpage: Medium: Instagram: @stu_voice Twitter: @stu_voice Facebook: @thestuvoice/

Date You Started Your Project Started

September 1st, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

When schools are depicted in media, the student experience is covered between the hours of 8 and 3. Education coverage has portrayed students as monolithic: overworked yet not involved enough, unnecessarily anxious yet complacent. The broad strokes of this coverage prevent the public from reading the student experience from the actual perspective of the student. Media surrounding education influences policy, and bad messaging crafts bad policy.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Student Voice's Journalism Fellowship seeks to solve the messaging vacuum surrounding student journalism by training a diverse group of students to become reporters on the state of schools. The vision of the program is to combine the experiential authority of students with a strong technical foundation to sharpen their storytelling skills. Over the course of a year, students are exposed to a diverse cross-section of communications professionals, policymakers, and local and national journalists who lead sessions on skill development, professional development, and group editing. Students produce seven pieces: six written pieces and a podcast over the course of the cohort, culminating in the production of their own self-designed magazine, Schooled. Unlike other writing programs, Student Voice offers fellows a broad-range of writing experiences: op-eds, features, interviews, event recaps, and multi-media pieces. Fellows graduate Student Voice's Fellowship with a network of connections, a strong portfolio, and a passion to change the student narrative. The fellowship is a fundamentally different media model: designed by students to empower students in their storytelling.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

When I first entered high school, I wanted nothing more than to work on my high school’s newspaper. I imagined it to be a unifying outlet for schoolwide discussion, with editors tirelessly writing. Unfortunately, after the first meeting, it became clear that our newspaper was woefully inactive. Over the rest of my high school career, I found outlets for writing online, ultimately becoming an editor for an online high school political outlet. While I enjoyed writing online about the issues facing my community, there was no reach for my community to actually read it. I joined Student Voice in 2018 because I recognized that there is a fundamental media gap for countless high schools and communities across the country. At Student Voice, I’ve been reaffirmed that the most powerful journalism is local, sparking dialogue among your classmates, your peers, and your neighbors.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Students across the country deserve to play a critical role in the media's coverage of education. Student Voice's Journalism Fellowship combines a student's passion for education reform with the skills, experiences, and connections necessary to become leaders in education journalism. At a time when over 1,300 U.S. communities have lost their newspapers and thousands more have lost their education beats, we hope to teach students to tell the stories that need to be told.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Each September, we invite high school-aged students with journalistic experience and/or a passion for education reform to apply for the fellowship. Admitted fellows are welcomed on an initial call that discusses the history and motivations behind this program, the broader student voice movement, and the power of journalism. From there, they are assigned to a monthly schedule, where they produce a piece that adheres to the month's topic and participate in four calls. These calls—skill development, peer editing, professional development, and group editing—occur weekly and offer a holistic balance of mentorship and group camaraderie. While writing, fellows learn vital lessons in marketing, promotion, and design to help optimize their piece's reach. The program's culmination is Schooled Magazine, a curated and self-designed collection of the fellows' work, printed semesterly.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The Journalism Fellowship differs in its structure and intent. We are the only program that is for student, by student, for student readers. No other fellowship offers high school students instruction in opinion, news, features, and analyses pieces in just a year. Additionally, the program is especially conscious of building networks: networks for cross-publishing with other leading outlets and networks of professionals to engage with. Finally, our program is uniquely centered around storytelling as a vehicle of social change. We understand words matter, and thus should be purposeful.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Over the course of the first cohort, the fellowship produced forty-two pieces that received over seven thousand digital engagements. More importantly, it sparked vital conversations for readers on the state of schools in their community. To this day, I speak with students who have examined inclusivity in their schools after reading "An Identity Divided by 8,000 Miles." In the second cohort, we intend to produce over 100 pieces, becoming one of the largest online student publications in the United States. Our graduated fellows have used the program as a launchpad. One of our first fellows, Salomée, has gone on to write for Washington Post's The Lily and Teen Vogue. Two more, Maya and Sanaa, now serve as ambassadors for a network of educators called Shared Story. Most importantly, we remain in touch with each of our fellows, having built lifelong relationships.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Over the next year, we hope to offer our fellows more opportunities to develop as journalists and changemakers. First, our fellows will undertake incredibly impactful projects this cohort: interacting directly with elected officials at the state and local level and facilitating roundtables in their own community. We are working with The Nation's student publication: The Student Nation and other organizations such as ASCD and Education Post to share their work further. We hope to also offer the students an opportunity to attend education conferences and meet up regionally. Finally, we hope to expand the reach of Schooled Magazine by organizing fellow "launch parties," where they'll discuss the program in their local schools and communities.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Search engine
  • Email
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)


This is a curated collection of stories from the fourteen students of the first cohort, spanning topics from sex education to wealth inequality in schools.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Aditi

I really love how this project puts students in charge of how the student narrative is portrayed! From my experience with remote projects, I would strongly encourage incorporating in person meetings where possible so that fellows feel a stronger sense of community. This need not be in person interactions between fellows but possibly encouraging fellows to start a Schooled publication in their school so that more students are given this opportunity. Also, even though the premise of the idea is "for students, by students", I feel like fellows would be inspired by adult mentors who are accomplished in the journalism field. That said, these are just ideas, and I can't wait to see how this project changes the student narrative!