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February 2014

President's Message

Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,

In the six years since NLP began, I’ve frequently gotten this reaction when describing the project: “What a great idea — but how do you scale it?”

Today, with an innovative set of proven education assets, we have the answer: a three-year operational plan that calls for us to become a national leader in our field with a combination of open-access digital lessons and a fee-for-service model built on a variety of staff-supported programs in our major markets.

In our Spotlight feature, we focus on that plan; in our Profile, we introduce you to the newest member of the exceptionally talented, dedicated and resourceful staff that will implement it.

As always, we very much welcome your interest, questions and feedback.

Warmest regards,


Alan C. Miller








NLP's rapidly expanding digital unit blends video lessons led by NLP journalist fellows with interactive digital lessons. Click on the photo to see a short overview of the unit.

NLP Calendar

This April, the News Literacy Project is offering an open virtual professional development session for teachers anywhere in the world. The training is being offered twice: on Wednesday, April 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST and on Tuesday, April 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST. Registration is open to anyone, and the training is being offered at no cost. To register, click here. To share this opportunity with others, send them this link:


NLP in the News

On Jan. 31 Edutopia featured a blog item by Peter Adams, NLP's senior vice president for educational programs, as part of Digital Learning Day. "News Literacy: Critical-Thinking Skills for the 21st Century" makes the case for news literacy education and provides tips for teachers interested in offering it. The website, a project of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, features "innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives."

NLP was also cited in three recent reports in the Columbia Journalism Review's series on news literacy. "A Movement's Moment?" explores the opportunity presented by new national learning standards; "Trusting Twitter" explores journalistic ethics and standards on Twitter; and "News Literacy Teaches About the Internet; Now Those Lessons Will Actually be Available There" profiles NLP's plans to move to national scale with an open-access digital unit.

During an NLP after-school program at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, Bloomberg's Gail DeGeorge offers guidance to a 12th-grade student about finding reliable sources for a research paper. Photo by Jeff Martin

NLP News
Building Capacity and Moving Forward

We are pleased to share exciting news about our growing ability to help support the continued expansion of our programs.

We have added a superb staff member and are moving to implement our three-year operational plan. For more on both subjects, see the Profile and Spotlight features in this newsletter.

More schools are using our programs, particularly the fast-growing digital unit. Bell Multicultural High School in Washington joined us in December and quickly became the first school to sign up for classroom and digital units and an after-school program in the same school year.

Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md., plans to use our classroom units in its 10th-grade English classes. We already work with Cristo Rey New York High School in East Harlem.

We added our fifth Learn Channel lesson this month. Alicia Shepard, the former ombudsman for NPR and an active NLP journalist fellow, examines accountability in journalism, focusing on the "60 Minutes" segment on the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Finally, we are pleased to announce generous new funding to support our growth:

  • The David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, an NLP supporter since 2009, has provided a $35,000 grant to expand our program in New York City;
  • The Gannett Foundation, also an NLP supporter since 2009, awarded us a $20,000 grant to extend our classroom program in Fairfax County, Va.; and
  • The Sun-Times Foundation in Chicago approved our $25,000 challenge grant, which some of you helped us match. Thank you for assisting us in reaching this goal!
photo of students doing du in Chicago
Chesley Flannery (right) and her 10th-grade English class at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington prepare to view the February digital unit webinar. Photo by Jeff Martin

NLP Spotlight
A Three-Year Plan to Move to Scale with a Sustainable Model

NLP is moving to implement a three-year plan that calls for us to reach national scale by 2016. The plan was devised in collaboration with Davidoff Communications, a Chicago-based mission-driven marketing firm retained by NLP in late 2012. It was adopted by NLP’s board in June 2013.

“The News Literacy Project has a unique and valuable set of core assets to leverage,” the plan states. “In addition, NLP has invaluable relationships with some of the most prestigious journalists, foundations and corporate sponsors who support the mission.”

The plan calls for combining open-access educational materials that will help NLP meet pent-up national demand with a fee-for–service approach in major markets. These will include NLP’s three existing programs in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., region, as well as a few additional areas in the South and on the West Coast.

NLP’s flagship classroom and after-school programs and a premium digital unit will be offered to schools in the major markets, at relatively modest prices, beginning in September. They may be bundled with other services, such as professional development for teachers.

In some cases, third parties — such as school PTSAs or foundations, corporations, individuals or civic organizations — will sponsor the program for specific sites.

At the same time, NLP’s website will provide news literacy materials to anyone who wants to teach or study the subject. The site includes a “Teachable Moments” blog that turns news into timely lessons, a page that showcases outstanding student projects from NLP units, and a Learn Channel with video lessons and computer-based training led by NLP journalist fellows and other experts.

NLP also plans to provide a free core digital unit on our website by the end of the year. This open unit will feature digital lessons taught by prominent journalists and include basic assessment tools. The premium unit will include a significantly larger number of digital lessons, more rigorous and engaging assessment tools, participation in a live interactive videoconference with a journalist, and additional materials.

The plan anticipates that even as NLP generates growing revenues in its major markets, it will use a hybrid funding model that also relies on foundation grants and corporate and individual gifts.

"Having demonstrated our ability to teach news literacy at individual schools, we are preparing to go national,” said NLP’s board chairman, John Carroll. “The road map to national scale is our three-year plan, a creative strategy that describes our goals and the steps we will take to achieve them."

Elizabeth Marino (right) checks students' work during an NLP unit at Chicago's Westinghouse College Prep.
Photo by Mary Owen

NLP Profile
Elizabeth Marino: Blending Classroom Experience with News Literacy

Elizabeth Marino, a former English teacher, wishes that the News Literacy Project’s curriculum had been available during her 14 years in the classroom.

“Many teachers are not comfortable or well-versed in helping students discern credible information in the digital age,” she said. “NLP is the missing piece.”

Elizabeth recently joined NLP as its new program coordinator in Chicago. She expects that her extensive experience in middle schools and high schools and her expertise in curriculum development will serve her well in partnering with teachers.

“It’s difficult to bring in new ideas and concepts,” she said, adding that NLP is able to meet this challenge because its curriculum is teacher-friendly and improves students' critical thinking and work overall.

From August to December 2013, Elizabeth volunteered more than 170 hours as an NLP consultant, handling much of the logistics and teacher training for NLP's digital unit in Chicago.

In her new position, she will focus on expanding the digital unit in Chicago Public Schools, as well as into the suburbs, and collaborate with other youth media programs to infuse news literacy into their work. The part-time position is funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

“The addition of Elizabeth to our team is particularly exciting given the crossroads NLP is at as an organization,” said Peter Adams, senior vice president for educational programs.

“She will play a vital role in ensuring that every learning experience that NLP offers — from the new open content on our website to our ongoing development of our program content — meets the needs of students and teachers in today's classrooms,” he said.

THE NEWS LITERACY PROJECT (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists and works with educators to help middle school and high school students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

Click here to learn more about NLP and visit NLP's YouTube channel.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support NLP, you can do so here.

NLP thanks its major funders and all those whose support makes our program possible.

Copyright (c) 2014 The News Literacy Project. All rights reserved.

The News Literacy Project
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Bethesda, MD 20814