Kennesaw State’s Center for Sustainable Journalism receives Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant

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$250,000 award will support coverage of substance use prevention and foster care issues KENNESAW,…

Georgia (May 6, 2015)$250,000 award will support coverage of substance use prevention and foster care issues

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 6, 2015)— The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded the Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ) at Kennesaw State University $250,000 to help increase awareness about substance use prevention and early intervention and foster care in its youth-oriented public affairs publications.

Reflecting two of Hilton Foundation’s funding priorities, the grant will fund the CSJ’s production of stories and videos about youth affected by substance use and those who are transitioning out of foster care. The Center will share the stories on its Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) and Youth Today, an online and print magazine targeted to the youth services industry. 

“We are extremely grateful to the Hilton Foundation for this opportunity,” said Leonard Witt, CSJ executive director, professor and the RobertD. Fowler Distinguished Chair of Communication. “The grant will allow us to use our expertise, audience base and partner networks to develop compelling content that will focus attention on prevention and the high individual and societal costs of youth substance use, and the many issues confronted by older youth in the foster care system.”

During the one-year project, CSJ will produce a series of videos featuring affected youth, in-depth solution-oriented journalistic reports and multimedia packages, and expert commentary. The content, which will be disseminated regionally and nationally, initially will focus on foster youth issues in New York City and Los Angeles and on substance use nationally.

“We’re beginning the project in a geographic area that promises a large return on reporting investment with regard to these issues, but ultimately, the objective is to expand the awareness and prevention/early intervention focus in at least 30 targeted states within the next five years,” Witt said.

Under the grant, CSJ plans to begin production of videos in May, and begin posting them on Youth Today and JJIE periodically from August through April 2016. It will also produce national and regional solution-oriented articles and solicit commentary, op-ed or personal experience pieces on the issues of substance use prevention and transition-age youth in the foster care system from policymakers, practitioners, advocates, experts, youth and the general public.

“Substance use disorders and prevention and older youth in the foster care system are two woefully neglected areas of coverage in the mainstream media,” Witt concluded. “We’ve invested a great deal in JJIE and Youth Today, and I’m confident our staff and affiliates will deliver high-quality reporting and editing that present these complex issues in easily understood news, information video and commentary.”  

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world's disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton's support for the work of Catholic Sisters. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $100 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2014. The Foundation's current assets are approximately $2.5 billion. For more information, please visit


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit