In a push to bring journalism education to underrepresented groups, NBCUniversal is partnering with 17 historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and colleges with significant Latino, Asian, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations with NBCU Academy.
The program promises to offer students from a wide array of racial and economic backgrounds on-campus training, online programs, scholarships and chances for interaction with NBC News reporters.
NBCUniversal is dedicating $6.5 million to the initiative, including scholarships this year worth $250,000.
"Creating an inclusive culture for journalism that represents the communities we serve is at the very core of what we do," NBCU News Group Chairman Cesar Conde said in a news release. "Through NBCU Academy, we have the opportunity to widen our extraordinary legacy by building on-ramps for a talented generation of journalists and storytellers who — for so long — may have been overlooked."
The schools in the partnership are:
Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York
California State University, Fullerton
Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Clark Atlanta University
Dallas College in Dallas
El Camino College in Torrance, California
Florida International University in Miami
Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia
Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Miami Dade College in Miami
Morgan State University in Baltimore
North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg, South Carolina
City College of New York
University of North Texas in Denton
University of Texas at El Paso
Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans
While the program is not yet available on campuses, journalism students at some of the partner schools said they are eager to begin.
"From what I have seen, journalism does have a tendency to be kind of narrow," said Tovah Strong, 20, a senior at the Institute of American Indian Arts. "I think creating that access is really important, especially for people who have been marginalized."
Strong said she is passionate about bringing journalism to underrepresented groups and helping them have control of their narrative. She hopes to use the opportunities presented by NBCU Academy to pursue a career in investigative journalism.
Throughout her journalism education, University of North Texas senior Maryory Morales, 26, has been focused on covering immigration and students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"Growing up, I've always been really shy and soft-spoken," she said. "But whenever I see injustices and I see that people can't stand up for themselves, I've always gotten this fire in my belly. I've always wanted to speak up for them."
Morales said bringing journalism to new communities and areas of the country might help residents trust that they are being covered fairly in the media. She's looking forward to hearing advice from professionals who have spent years working as reporters and hopes the extra funding can bring better resources and camera equipment to her school.
Ta'Corian Tilley, 21, also a senior at the University of North Texas, first became interested in journalism as a junior in high school traveling across the state with his debate team.
"I enjoyed being able to gather information and cohesively put it in one big format to present to an audience," he said. "So then I started thinking maybe I could do this for a living."
So far he has tried radio, television and print journalism, and he said that no matter the medium, the most important thing is to tell people's stories. He said the NBCUniversal program will not only help empower strong local journalists but also broaden opportunities for students looking to go into national news reporting.
"I think bringing this to [the University of North Texas] specifically just highlights that you don't have to be in an L.A. school or you don't have to be in a school on one of the coasts to have a great job or be a great storyteller," he said.