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Illinois Press Foundation offers grants to schools

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Press Foundation wants to know what Illinois high schools need to boost their media programs. Would a new computer help? How about a professional camera complete with zoom lenses? Or maybe a printer or layout software or high definition video camera?

The IPF is asking schools to submit grant requests for up to $1,500 each. The deadline to submit requests is Feb. 28.

“This is free money,” said Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the Illinois Press Association and IPF. “We want to help ensure that high school media programs are strong and vibrant. As budgets get tight, these programs, like band and chorus, are often among the first to be cut with tragic results. We hope to fill in some of the budget gaps and preserve these vital programs.”

Media programs including school newspapers, closed-circuit TV, radio and websites are eligible for funding. Yearbooks are not eligible. Funds may be used for equipment, program expansion and news literacy or First Amendment awareness. The grants are available for existing programs only; new journalism programs may apply for funding through a separate IFAC initiative.

Grant awards will be at the sole discretion of the IPF, said Barry Locher, director.“Obviously, we can’t help every school, but we can help quite a few,” he said. “The application process is easy, but we need to hear from schools right away. Grant recipients will be announced by April 17, 2013.”

He continued, “Keep in mind that this is not a competition. A small school or small program has as much chance of being funded as large ones.” Complete rules and instructions are available online at www.ifac.us.

The IPF is located in Springfield with the Illinois Press Association. It provides free and low-cost First Amendment materials for all ages to schools throughout the U.S.

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