An Urgent Appeal from Dean Sarah Bartlett to Support the Future Journalist Fund

  • By Sarah Bartlett

UPDATE – APRIL 16, 2020: A private foundation that wishes to remain anonymous has agreed to match each dollar the Newmark J-School raises to reach its goal of $505,000 by June 30. This enables you to double your donation to the Future Journalist Fund. The money will help students in the Class of 2020 who may not otherwise be able to finish their master’s degree due to the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Doctors, nurses, hospital workers, first responders — these are today’s heroes.

But so are journalists. They dig for answers, get the story, and only then return to their virtual newsrooms to tell us crucial information we need to know.

I am proud that some of these valiant pros are graduates of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

I’m writing today to tell you that our faculty and staff  — always known for their entrepreneurialism, comfort with technology, and deep commitment to our students  — also have met the pandemic in magnificent ways.

Professors have gracefully pivoted to online classes, spent hours on video calls reassuring students, and shared new tools and techniques to make online learning more engaging.

The staff has been extraordinary, too.  A few are still taking public transportation to get to campus to ensure that students have the equipment they need or to restock the food pantry. They are helping students who have lost roommates or been told to leave CUNY dorms (now re-fashioned as hospitals) to find new housing. They are pursuing every possible lead to identify summer internships now that international opportunities are off the table and some news outlets have pulled back.

My worry now is for the 95 students in the Class of 2020: They came last summer without such daunting hurdles. More than half receive at least partial scholarships to cover their tuition and fees — and most rely on part-time jobs to pay for rent, food, and transportation. They’ve worked in bars, restaurants, and retail stores, walked dogs, taught yoga, babysat, or tutored. As you know, many of those jobs no longer exist.

With great uncertainty prevailing about the economy, some students may be forced to face the prospect of dropping out this fall — in what would be the third and final semester of their program — because they can’t afford to stay.

We are determined to prevent this from happening. We have calculated the cost to ensure that all students now enrolled in our two master’s programs graduate in December. We need to raise $505,000. We know that not every student may need support, but we have set that sustaining goal as our target for a fundraising drive. We are launching it immediately.

As many of you may know, we postponed our annual fundraising dinner, originally set for May 19. For obvious reasons, we haven’t picked a new date. In the absence of our gala, and with the value of our endowed funds significantly reduced, it is vital that we raise new resources to help our current students complete their studies. Our industry badly needs their energy, diverse perspectives, and grasp of the innovative tools driving digital news.

Please help us help them! We are asking all of the friends of the Newmark J-School to go to this page on our website to donate to the Future Journalist Fund by June 30, 2020. No sum is too small. 

Thank you for hearing and responding to our appeal at a time when we know there are needs everywhere. And please, do everything you can to stay safe and healthy!

Sarah Bartlett
Dean