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The News Literacy Project Becomes Independent on May 1

The News Literacy Project is stepping out on its own for the first time on May 1. The three-year-old project has been operating for nearly 2½ years under the fiscal sponsorship of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Though NLP has been responsible for its own fundraising and program operations, Poynter handled the project’s finances, payroll and benefits as its designated 501(c)3 sponsor. The Tides Center, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, was NLP’s fiscal agent during its initial year.

The Internal Revenue Service approved NLP as an independent nonprofit on March 11. The project completed its transition with Poynter this in April.

“This is an important milestone in extending the program to more students and teachers and also to more parts of the country,” said NLP board chairman John S. Carroll.

“We’re grateful to the Poynter Institute the invaluable help it’s provided during NLP’s formative years.”

Becoming independent shifts legal and fiscal responsibility to the News Literacy Project’s board, whose members include national leaders in the fields of journalism, education and public relations.

During the process of applying to the IRS and taking other steps necessary to operate independently, NLP has been represented on a pro bono basis by the Washington office of the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP. Attorneys Peter Kadzik, Jonathan Levi and Alicia O’Brien have been especially helpful in guiding the project through this process.

NLP is working with 30 teachers in 12 middle schools and high schools in New York City, Chicago and Bethesda, Md., to reach more than 1,700 students this school year. It plans to expand in each region in the 2011-2012 school year.

The project brings seasoned journalists into the schools to give students the tools to discern credible information from rumor, opinion, misinformation and propaganda.