By Beverly Perkins
Two decades ago, The Culpepper Journalism Foundation (CJF) was established to promote excellence in scholastic journalism for Broward County School students. The non-profit foundation was created to provide educational and financial assistance to high school underclassmen so they can attend summer journalism programs at universities in honor of Dr. Alyce Culpepper.
The retired South Plantation teacher always encouraged her students to improve their writing, photography, and editing skills at these summer programs. However, not every student could afford the luxury of doing so. Therefore, CJF was born.
“I always encouraged my students to attend summer programs (which they did at their own expense) because they benefited from another teacher’s perspective. Most college media professors are or were professional journalists, and students need to practice good journalism that is based on facts and research which the summer program provides as they work hand-in-hand with the professors,” says Culpepper. “The CJF fellowships help the entire journalism class as well as the individual student who is exposed to the college experience while in high school.”
In the last 20 years more than $40,000 has been given to high school sophomores and juniors to attend summer programs throughout the United States. During the early years, the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and Comcast Communications provided internships and special fellowships for additional financial support to several recipients.
All donations to the CJF go directly to the student fellowships students. The Culpepper family pays for all other expenses including plaques, printing, website and promotional materials as well as making donations that benefit the students. The Broward Education Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c)(3), has managed the CJF funds since its inception in 1997.
“Often students who receive scholarships go on to college leaving their high schools behind. But, recipients of the Culpepper Journalism Foundation (CJF) fellowship are required to return to their staffs and share what they learned during their summer experience,” added Culpepper. “In effect, they give back to Broward County schools.”
The CJF gave the first fellowship in 1998 to Julie Leventhal, editor of South Plantation High newspaper, the Sword and Shield. After earning her degree at the UF, she has been in New York as a lecture agent at WME/IMG Speakers for the last six years. “My journalism background has been invaluable in my career,” she stated.
After attending the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications 2017 Summer Media Institute, Anna Winslow, South Plantation High’s recent CJF recipient, said she is sharing with her staff “how important it is to approach stories with a creative and interesting angle to engage readers throughout the school and community” while emphasizing the integrity of the school paper as “factual accuracy is the utmost importance in any publication.” She added, “I know how as an editor I must be a good listener and give constructive criticism while still being firm.”
For more information and a complete list of fellowship winners please visit: CulpepperJournalismFoundation.Weebly.com or Facebook: Culpepper Journalism Foundation.