Our History

In 2010, Co-Founder and Executive Director Ed Madison sat on a panel with renowned journalism teacher and author Esther Wojcicki, a spark was ignited. That initial spark lit the fire of Ed’s research, which shows that students in under-resourced communities can benefit from Journalistic Learning.  From there, the nonprofit organization was born, and programming was developed to support students and teachers. See the timeline below for key milestones in JLI’s journey.


An idea is born

– Ed Madison shares a panel with well-regarded Palo Alto High school journalism teacher

– Esther Wojcicki and three of her students at an academic conference at Stanford University. Madison is impressed by the students’ professionalism and becomes curious about the program.


A research question is established

–  After an afternoon with Esther Wojcicki and her students at Palo Alto observing the process of their award-winning publications, Ed Madison chooses as his dissertation topic whether students in less affluent communities could benefit from journalistic teaching practices.

2011 – 2015

Media Arts Institute is founded

– Media Arts Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is founded by Ed Madison, Esther Wojcicki, and Michelle Swanson to deploy journalism projects at the elementary, middle, and high school level in Oregon.


Media Arts Institute becomes JLI

– Ed Madison publishes Newsworthy: Cultivating Critical Thinkers, Readers, Writers in Language Arts Classrooms (Teachers College Press, Columbia University), which found that students in varying socioeconomic settings who were engaged in journalistic practices reported higher levels of motivational beliefs and learning strategies.

– Ed Madison, Esther Wojcicki, and philanthropist Tara Guber change Media Arts Institute’s name to Journalistic Learning Initiative® (JLI) to better articulate the nonprofit’s primary focus. JLI also formally partners with the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and the College of Education.


Core curriculum is piloted

– JLI hires its first employee and pilots core curriculum at Oaklea Middle School and Springfield High School.

– An independent study by Inflexion found that 78% of students challenged themselves more in writing after being in JLI for one school year. More than 89% of students agreed that Journalistic Learning skills–research, news analysis, writing/editing, publishing, and presenting–were valuable and relevant. And, importantly, almost 80% of students agreed that Journalistic Learning had improved their critical thinking and metacognition skills.


JLI expands to new schools

– JLI expands to schools in Eugene, Portland, and Los Angeles.


Online curricula developed

– Online curricula developed to support distance learning for teachers incorporating Journalistic Learning into their classrooms, and build a network of educators who can collaborate electronically.

– A game-changing $500,000 gift from Nancy and David Petrone enables JLI to further expand and improve learning outcomes among middle and high school students, with a focus on the critical thinking skills journalistic Learning provides.


JLI Live is launched

– JLI Live—a free, interactive interview series for teachers and students to hear from millennial journalists about their reporting and design work–is launched nationwide through a partnership with Streamable Learning.

– JLI helps science and social studies teachers to incorporate Journalistic Learning into their classes.


Black Student Magazine is launched

– JLI develops partnership with Lane Education Service District to train Black Student Union members to develop and distribute their own student-produced magazine and online digital publication.

– A new 45-day program, Effective Communicators is developed for middle and high school language arts teachers.

– JLI ‘Extra Credit’ is initiated, a series of exploratory video and lesson plans for educators, led by two ninth-grade student journalists. The series is endorsed by the Oregon Department of Education and Lane ESD.
– Since its inception as a nonprofit, JLI has served more than 4,500 students in Oregon and California.


The Student Voice is launched

– JLI launches The Student Voice, a student-run professional development program for high school students focused on providing practical, accessible journalism advising.

– JLI hosts The Student Voice Awards, an event recognizing education change-makers and the best of scholastic journalism.

– JLI announces a new after-school enrichment experience–the Black Student Media Program–that centers the voices of Black youth and allies. Participating students are mentored in producing a print publication, Black Student Magazine; its first issue, released during Black History Month, is distributed to over 5,000 households. 

– JLI’s Effective Communicators Educator Fellowship enrolls its first ever cohort consisting of 19 teachers from rural and urban communities throughout Oregon through its partnership with Bi-Mart.


The JLI Fellowship expands

– JLI expands its Effective Communicators Educator Fellowship into Washington, Idaho, and Arizona, enrolling 33 more teachers across all three states.

– JLI organizes its second annual Student Voice Awards Dinner and Auction as a hybrid event, honoring youth journalists and teachers who champion student voice.

– The second issue of Black Student Magazine comes out in February and features stories from 10 student writers from Portland, Eugene, and SW Washington. The issue is distributed to 10,000 households in Oregon.

– JLI is named a New Schools Venture Fund grant recipient, kickstarting the next phase of development for the Effective Communicators program.


Language Arts in Action is published

– The Effective Communications Educator Fellowship crosses the 100 teacher participant mark.

– Black Student Magazine’s third issue goes fully online and interactive, distributing its first digital edition in partnership with the National Urban League.

– JLI publishes Language Arts In Action–a guide intended for middle and high school educators wanting to reengage their classes with more active, student-centered instruction–through Norton.

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