By training a cohort of competent young writers through our Journalism for Social Change program (J4SC), we ensured that upcoming generations are writing about child welfare issues, and that more citizens are educated about the system and engaged in its improvement.
J4SC, launched in January 2013, established a unique collaboration in which UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, the Goldman School of Public Policy and the School of Social Welfare engaged in an interdisciplinary course exploring the intersection of journalism, public policy and child welfare.
Journalism for Social Change has been taught at UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, and has also been taught as an undergraduate course at San Francisco State University. The course is immediately followed by a summer fellowship for the course’s top students in which fellows have the opportunity to further heighten their journalism skills and engage in in-depth coverage of child welfare issues and solutions.
FMC President Daniel Heimpel, who has reported for Newsweek, The San Jose Mercury News, and was named “Journalist of the Year” by the LA Press Club, taught the graduate-level J4SC course. Listen to him talk about the class with CBS News in San Francisco here.
Support for J4SC
U.S. Congressmember Karen Bass had this to say about J4SC (read the full letter of support here):
“Over the years I have come to know Daniel’s work as a journalist covering the foster care system, and have seen how the stories produced by he and his staff at Fostering Media Connections have impacted both state and federal policy. I know he has taken this approach to the classroom both at the University of California Berkeley and at the University of Southern California. His work continues to improve the fields of journalism, public policy and social work.”
FMC also established a working relationship with Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program and was asked to speak there in 2011. Take a look at this story written about J4SC on the Harvard Law School’s website.
The Impact of Our Students’ Work
We trained over 140 students through our on-the-ground version of Journalism for Social Change. Our students’ stories were often picked up by mainstream and niche media outlets. In 2012, student Ashley Hopkinson’s story about visas for immigrant foster youth was picked up by the Associated Press. During the summer of 2013, Fellow Lauren Gonzalves wrote about a former foster youth who was convicted of murdering his adoptive parents, and her story was picked up by The Huffington Post and Eastbay Express. During the summer of 2014, UC Berkeley graduate Lynsey Clark wrote a cover story for The East Bay Express on commercially sexually exploited children.
We also launched a massive online open course (MOOC) version of J4SC in partnership with Google and UC Berkeley. The course began its second iteration in January 2016, reaching more than 10,000 students around the world. See the course description is available here.
The Future of J4SC
After five exciting years, the FMC team made the decision to wind down the J4SC program, repurposing much of its curriculum and institutional knowledge to support our Youth Voice program. While we greatly valued the chance to educate students about child welfare at some of the nation’s top graduate schools, after careful evaluation we decided that focusing our efforts on teaching journalism skills to current and former foster youth was more deeply aligned with our mission. This is the goal of our Youth Voice program, which was launched and managed by three of our former J4SC students.