Journalistic Learning Initiative

aka Media Arts Institute   |   Eugene, OR   |


The Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI) mission is to empower students to discover their voice, improve academic outcomes, and engage in self-directed learning through project-based storytelling.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ed Madison

Main address

2852 Willamette St #241

Eugene, OR 97405 USA

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Formerly known as

Media Arts Institute



NTEE code info

(Educational Services and Schools - Other) (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Twenty-first-century employers seek to recruit works who have strong oral (28%), written communication (23%), collaboration (22%), and problem-solving (19%) skills. The achievement gap between whites and students of color persists, and disengaged students continue to drop out of school. COVID-19 has not helped. The “factory model” of education our grandparents experienced our children still receive is outdated. Teacher lectures, rote memorization, and one-size-fits-all testing rarely inspire learning. Students are best engaged when they influence their learning, work in teams, and use digital media during instruction. JLI seeks to make these project-based strategies available in privileged school communities accessible to all. SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Black Student Magazine Project

Research confirms that students who engage in journalistic storytelling earn better grades, become stronger writers, and are better prepared to excel professionally than their peers who do not. Journalistic learning also builds character, strengthens critical thinking, and supports competency. Oregon’s Lane County Education Service District engaged JLI to support academic achievement for African American students countywide, under Oregon’s Student Success Act (HB3427) and the African American/Black Student Success Plan (HB2016). The Black Student Magazine program launched in fall 2020 as a template for national expansion. JLI has facilitated an eight-week after-school digital learning program for students of color who gained writing instruction and online publication skills. The program empowered students to research, analyze sources, interview, write/edit stories on topics they choose and publish their work for a broader audience. Go to to see the first issue!

Population(s) Served
People of African descent

Being an effective communicator may be among the most underrated and essential skills for 21st-century learners and workers. Regardless of career choice, students who communicate effectively convey confidence and exhibit a higher sense of character. They speak and write with authority, and their words engender trust. That is why strong communicators earn better grades, test higher, and excel at college and in their careers.

The course expands on JLI’s five years of previous work in middle and high schools. The program will be available to a limited pilot group of schools and students in communities within the Pacific Northwest. Students who participate in JLI’s programs emerge as effective communicators by researching, interviewing, writing, and publishing stories about topics of interest and global concerns.

A key focus of the course is building character. Developing character requires introspection about one’s values and convictions. What do you stand for? What do you care about and why? Individuals with a strong sense of self are better equipped to navigate an ever-changing world. Conscious and responsible use of social media is also a critical aspect of the course. Research indicates that dependence on devices can rob young people from developing an ability to express themselves, advocate for their ideas, and communicate face-to-face. Many of the students most left behind in 2020 during mandated remote learning due to COVID-19 are the students who will most benefit from Effective Communicators.

Teachers who have used our journalistic methods in their classrooms say they especially appreciate our novel ways of enhancing students' much-needed social-emotional skills, such as empathy, face-to-face communications, and respectful civil discourse.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

The Student Voice is a twice-monthly digital publication composed of curated journalism stories and photos submitted by dozens of secondary school students nationwide. University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication undergraduates mentor high school participants and their advisors through weekly virtual newsroom sessions. Each Friday from noon to 1 p.m. (during the academic year), we discuss current headlines, take story pitches, and coach students on improving their writing and multimedia skills. For those who can’t participate live, the sessions are recorded and archived along with video tutorials that can be accessed anytime.

With students’ consent, we publish selected content in The Student Voice and work to have it republished by mainstream media organizations. Additionally, we acknowledge excellent student work in our annual late spring competition.

JLI is looking for partners interested in supporting this nationwide initiative.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goal of JLI is to give under served and underrepresented students access to unique experiences that build their critical thinking, communications, and collaboration skills so they are ready for college and the 21st century workforce.

Our strategy is to partner with educators, schools, and school districts to bring our programming directly to middle and high school students in English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Health, and Science classes. We provide educators with professional development and ongoing support so they are true partners in learning, planning, and presenting techniques to enhance students' project-based storytelling skills.

Our organization was founded by well-known journalism educator, Esther Wojcicki, a vocal proponent for an education overhaul. JLI Co-founder and Executive Director Ed Madison was a founding producer at CNN and created news and information content for numerous television networks before becoming a tenured associate professor of journalism at the University of Oregon.

JLI's expertise and excellent reputation in Lane County and Palo Alto for empowering teachers to incorporate journalistic learning into any non-fiction curriculum is the reason we are often approached to bring our standards-aligned, evidence-based programming to other schools.

In five years, JLI has reached thousands of students nationwide, regardless of whether they will ever pursue journalism as a career.

We are thrilled to partner with Lane County Education Service district on an after-school program focused on Black student success that we think can be accomplished either in person or remotely, and is not only easily replicable, but with professional development, ownership of the project can be transferred to the leaders we'll be mentoring so the community is not forever reliant upon JLI for services.

We have partnered with Streamable Learning to bring live interviews with millennial journalists into classrooms all over the country.

We have developed a mechanism for student-led virtual learning, JLI Extra Credit, complete with reflections and lesson plans for educators, which we hope will be especially useful during the COVID-10 pandemic.

Our executive director recently received the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Award from the Scholastic Journalism Division of AEJMC for his efforts in building a more diverse profession and his research into intercultural dialogue that has impacted under served communities.

We just received a $7000 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, which was great affirmation of our non-profit's progress in the state.

We recently hired a director of philanthropy and partnerships and we are actively pursuing corporate partnerships. We anticipate our first-ever large-scale event in May of 2021, the proceeds of which will provide scholarships for young people of color.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Journalistic Learning Initiative

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Journalistic Learning Initiative

Board of directors
as of 05/31/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. John Griffith

Esther Wojcicki

Global Moonshots in Education

Susan Castillo

Retired education leader

Berk Nelson

Oregon Health Authority

Lori Shontz

University of Oregon

John Griffith


Hank Stern

Communications Director for Senator Wyden

Ritch Colbert

Media Entrepreneur

Amira Barger

AVP at Edelman

Susan Castillo

Former State Senator

Suzzette Martinez-Malavet

VP at Edelman

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/31/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/31/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.