We’re diving headfirst into the new school year alongside teachers and students. With 14 school partners and a revamped youth journalism program, we plan to elevate the writing skills of more young people than ever before. To achieve this goal, we’ve made some big changes—including a restructure of our youth journalism program, Teens in Print (TiP).

Unlike traditional journalism programs that work almost exclusively with students who self-identify as capable writers bound for college, TiP is designed to engage all young people—regardless of their writing skills or academic record.

teens in print students jumping with the newspaper

Through our years of working with students, we’ve discovered that—because TiP embraces the complicated nature of journalism and requires students to write polished articles for a wide audience—committing to the program can be intimidating to students who are in middle school, unfamiliar with journalism, or still English Language Learners. To reduce barriers and ensure that TiP is more accessible, we went back to the drawing board and devised a new program model that offers multiple entry points for curious teens.

The new model

The new model takes the shape of a three-tier ladder, designed to guide students through the program. As students graduate to the next tier and elevate their commitment, they receive corresponding incentives. Of course, our students have a wide variety of interests and responsibilities, and they maintain the freedom to choose their own level of engagement.

Ultimately, our goal is to draw more youth into our programming. We believe that every student has a lot to gain from Teens in Print, and we want to engage a diverse cohort of youth for a few reasons:

  • Teaching media literacy is essential in today’s world—consuming the news with a critical eye is no longer voluntary as teens are barraged with journalism across the social media platforms they frequent.
  • Our goal of producing a newspaper that authentically represents and appeals to Boston teens means that we want every kind of student in our program.
  • We seek to teach all students that writing is power. Critical thinking and writing skills can open the doors to opportunity: higher education, a good career, and social agency.

Our lowest-stakes entry point is the Associate program. Associates are not required to produce writing for the newspaper; rather, they participate in weekly media exploration sessions designed to spark their interest in journalism. Associates will engage in hands-on workshops around writing, journalism, and news literacy and learn multimedia skills such as editorial design, photography, and podcasting. TiP gives Associates the tools they need to become savvy news consumers and potential Staff Writers.

“At first, I didn’t really have an interest in reading the news, but now, when I review the news, I look deep into what happened behind the scenes based on my experience with TiP.”

TiP participant, 7th grade

teens in print student in class

Students who join TiP as Staff Writers produce one article per news cycle on a topic of their choice. This can take the form of a cover story, profile, op-ed, review—or multimedia project. Articles are well-researched, fact-checked, and go through multiple rounds of careful edits. (Read the final product at bostontip.com).

We know that writing professional news articles can be daunting to students—and a lot of hard work. To reward our Staff Writers, TiP will, for the first time ever, award monetary stipends at the end of each news cycle to students who have completed their duties.

teens in print students dancing in class

“Being a part of TiP is one of the best experiences of my high school career…The opportunities, skills, and friends that I got through TiP are irreplaceable…and I genuinely feel more connected to my city and my community.”

TiP Participant, 11th Grade

Editors are fully committed and experienced youth journalists who have participated in TiP as Staff Writers and earned the opportunity to take on greater leadership. They write two articles per cycle and take on additional responsibilities including copy editing their peers’ work and offering input on the publishing process. New this year, student Editors receive an hourly stipend for their work.

“Being on the Teens in Print editorial board was ultimately an important lesson in responsibility and leadership, as I found myself a role model of sorts to aspiring TiPsters as they began their journey into the tribulation known as high school.”

-Jacob, TiP Editor and senior at Boston Arts Academy

teens in print student editor jacob

Time spent in an afterschool program like TiP is incredibly enriching, but for students who have jobs, it can be difficult to commit to a rigorous unpaid engagement. By offering stipends this year, we hope to make TiP—an academically enriching program—more attractive to students with competing time commitments, and to reward our young journalists for putting in the hard work.

Other changes afoot

In addition to one-on-one writing support and mentoring, all student who participate in TiP will receive college readiness support. As a literacy organization, we are uniquely qualified to support students as they tell their story in college essays and scholarship applications. TiP staff will offer college-prep workshops and 1:1 application support to students who participate in our programming at any level.

college pennants

In an effort to make the program still more accessible, TiP will hold 7 meetings a week at 3+ locations this year (a fourth meeting location for Editors has not yet been decided). This more than doubles TiP’s programming time from last year. Here’s a rundown of our partners.

The Dearborn STEM Academy. A Boston publc middle and high school located in Roxbury, the Dearborn is an ideal place for us to recruit young TiPsters. Meetings will be held both during and after school hours, giving Dearborn students easy access to our highly engaging workshops.

The Boston Business Journal. A weekly meeting for Staff Writers will be held at the BBJ in the heart of Downtown Boston. The newsroom setting makes it an exciting place for young journalists to congregate, share ideas, and learn more about the modern media world.

The Writer’s Room at John D. O’Bryant High School. Also a Boston Public School in Roxbury, the O’Bryant has historically been home to many  Staff Writers. Offering programming on the school campus makes it highly accessible to students who may not be able to travel downtown.

teens in print students

Putting it into context

All of Teens in Print’s initiatives are growing. TiP runs an after-school program during the school year and a six-week Summer Journalism Institute in July and August. The newspaper publishes writing from students in its programs, and accepts submissions from contributing writers (any student in Boston). TiP also offers news literacy and journalism workshops to classrooms and youth-serving organizations to expose students to the skills they need to be responsible media makers and consumers.

Expansions like these are made possible by the generosity of our community. Funders who wholly invest in WriteBoston’s mission allow us to innovate, expand, and ultimately better meet the needs of the students we serve.

Special thanks

Special thanks to: Frank W. and Carl S. Adams Memorial Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; Calderwood Foundation; Cummings Foundation; Wells Fargo; and generous corporations and individuals.