First Black Student Magazine Unveiled

Journalistic Learning Initiative—in Partnership with Oregon’s Lane Education Service District—Publishes One-of-Kind Student Magazine

Black Student Magazine, Issue 1

February 18, 2021 (Eugene, Ore.) – In time for Black History Month, Lane Education Service District (Lane ESD) and its partner, the Oregon-based non-profit Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI), have unveiled the first Black Student Magazine! The full-color 28-page magazine is available at Eugene-Springfield libraries, hospitals, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, and select local businesses and schools. It can also be accessed online at

“Launching Black Student Magazine fulfills our commitment to amplifying the voices of students who often go unheard,” said JLI Executive Director/Co-founder Ed Madison, Ph.D. “Students have a lot to add to our nation’s discourse about equality and social justice, and media must portray diverse voices.”

JLI and Lane ESD launched the Black Student Magazine project in the fall of 2020 as an after-school digital learning program to support academic achievement for students of color under Oregon’s Student Success Act (HB3427) and the African American/Black Student Success Plan (HB2016). Middle and high school students in Lane County learned how to research and interview and gained writing, photography, and online publication skills that they can use in any field.

“Our students thrive when learning is connected to their own lived experiences, they see themselves reflected in the curriculum, and they are given opportunities to see the real-life application of what we teach in our classrooms,” said Lane ESD School Improvement Executive Director Carlos Sequeira, Ed.D. “The Black Student Magazine project with our partner JLI offered a unique experience particularly during Covid-19 when many of our students were quarantining at home and needed positive and engaging after-school opportunities.”

Among other Eugene-area notables, students interviewed Polly Irungu, a photojournalist who created the database and employment resource; Black Lives Matter Activist Tyshawn Ford; and community legend Lyllye Parker.

“The students had so much fun selecting who they wanted to interview!” said African American Black Student Success Navigator Lela Ross, who was a liaison to the students for JLI and participated in the weekly digital sessions. “Being able to choose who they wanted to contact and then write about really helped to spark their imaginations. For example, one of our students loves sports and so two of his stories incorporated his passion for football, which was eye-opening for him because he hadn’t realized before that he could combine his love for sports with writing.”

Research confirms that students who engage in journalistic storytelling earn better grades, become stronger writers, and are more prepared to excel professionally than their peers who do not take journalism. Journalistic learning also builds character, strengthens critical thinking, and supports competency.

“The opportunity to uplift and share student voice, especially in these times, and especially African American voice, is huge for our community,” added Ross. “Everyone needs to see, hear, and listen to our Black youth. We should all be curious about what they think and amplify that voice any way we can. I learned a lot, too!”

Noted Madison: “This publication not only heralds voice diversity but marks the beginning of an expansion effort that will bring Lane County to communities across the nation.”

The Black Student Magazine project was supported by the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Autzen Foundation. Sponsors included Bi-Mart, Umpqua Bank, Bigfoot, University of Oregon School of Journalism, and PeaceHealth.

For more information about the Black Student Magazine project, go to, or write to

Founded in 2015, in collaboration with the University of Oregon School of Journalism and College of Education, the JLI empowers students to discover their voice, improve academic outcomes, and engage in self-directed learning through project-based storytelling. Students learn to research, interview, write, edit, and collaborate, making them more effective communicators. Since its inception, JLI has helped more than 4,500 young people in Oregon and California succeed.

Contact: Sydney Clevenger, (503-449-6580),

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