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Democracy and the Informed Citizen


The Democracy and the Informed Citizen Emerging Journalist Fellowship program is designed to support and amplify student journalists’ voices and perspectives who are enrolled at California community colleges. Launched in 2020 with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Federation of State Humanities Councils, this program grew out of our statewide initiative, CA 2020: Youth Perspective and the Future of California.

Through a competitive application process, fellowship funds are awarded to community colleges throughout the state to support a large cohort of student journalists. In addition to financial support, participating fellows receive enhanced training in local and community-engaged journalism, podcasting, media literacy, and mentoring from professional journalists. As part of the fellowship, students will propose and conduct a focused reporting project on regional issues of importance to share with statewide audiences through an online portal. Throughout, the program’s goals are to incorporate the insight and perspective of journalists and the context and inquiry of the humanities, to develop critical journalism skills, and to encourage media literacy and civic engagement.

In 2021 $88,000 in fellowship funds were awarded to eight community colleges supporting 31 student journalists. Ranging from rural far northern California to the southern US/Mexico border region, the campuses reflect the state’s breadth of geography and diversity. Campuses awarded fellowships include:

  • Bakersfield College, Bakersfield
  • City College of San Francisco, San Francisco
  • De Anza College, Cupertino
  • Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles
  • San Diego City College, San Diego
  • Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa
  • Shasta College, Redding
  • Riverside City College, Riverside



Yadira Contreas

I am a first-generation immigrant, the product of a single mother, and the first in my family to receive a four-year degree. I live in far North Eastern California in the rural town of Fall River Mills. The project that I’m working on is very personal to me. The main concept of my project is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, and how that bill has greatly impacted the lives of thousands of immigrant youth, including myself.

– Rosa Yadira Contreras, Journalism Fellow, Shasta College

Download the 2021 Press Release

Nick Vides

This program gives me the chance to finally focus on one topic and create a podcast, which is something thatI’ve never done beforeWe are studying the state of constant catastrophe that the North Bay is in right now. As it gets hotter, our fire season is getting longer and longer. I’ve talked with people who have rebuilt their housesthree times now. We Sonomians, and people in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Napa, we’re resilient.

– Nick Vides, Journalism Fellow, Santa Rosa Junior College

Amaya Lawton

Getting to network and learn things from other journalism students in California is going to be very beneficial for me in the near future. From the fellowship, I have learned that everyone in California is dealing with a similar issue that gets little to no coverage, whether it’s dealing with income, housing, or school.

– Amaya LawtonJournalism Fellow, Bakersfield College