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Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation Launches Youth Community Journalism Microinternship

The Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation is launching a six-week paid microinternship for youth in community journalism this summer. 

The program will be led by the Youth Community Journalism Institute at the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation, in collaboration with Carmen Robles and Associates LLC, and take place from June 26 to Aug. 2 at the Strong Mind Strong Body’s partner organization, SPEAK MPLS, a community media center in Minneapolis.

“We are honored and grateful to provide this educational and economic opportunity for youth,” said Eric Ortiz, the executive director of the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation, a national youth and community development nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis. “With our community building work, we have seen the power of engaged youth in many ways. Journalism provides another powerful vehicle for youth to create solutions and strengthen communities.”

The Youth Community Journalism Microinternship program is for 10 ambitious students ages 12-17 from diverse backgrounds in Minneapolis schools. Students from Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities School, Andersen United Middle School, South High School, South All Nations, Thomas Edison High School, and Risen Christ Catholic School will participate. This program will teach the fundamentals of community journalism, including reporting, storytelling, interviewing, multimedia journalism, video production, field reporting, and live studio production.

“This journalism program is a wonderful opportunity for youth to be heroes for their community,” said Carmen Robles, the president of Carmen Robles and Associates LLC, a community engagement strategic consulting firm that has been taking action for health and education equality since 2004, and the publisher of Conversaciones de Salud, a popular monthly e-newsletter that serves the Latino community. “The biggest crisis our state and nation is facing today (next to opioids/fentanyl/other substances) is social media and the mental health of youth. This program directly offers solutions to this growing dilemma. In addition to encouraging communication and storytelling, our project enhances reading, writing, comprehension, civic engagement, and determination skills, which directly affect mental health. It’s a win-win for all.”

The youth community journalism program will culminate in a live community news show produced by students in front of a live studio audience and broadcast on SPEAK MPLS cable TV channels. 

“We are very excited to be working with Eric Ortiz, Carmen Robles, and the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation’s youth community journalism team,” said Rebecca Smith, the director of SPEAK MPLS.

Food, drinks, and bus passes (if necessary) will be provided to all youth, and all youth who participate in the program will receive a $600 stipend.

As part of the youth community journalism microinternship, youth will participate in the Mercado Central Local Journalism Project as well. Mercado Central is a pioneering Latino marketplace in Minnesota that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as a business cooperative and incubator, a national model for asset-based community development, and a world-famous example of how local leadership can create a gathering place for commerce, community, and culture with a structure for ownership and control.

The Mercado’s 25th anniversary party will be a street festival on Sept. 14 at the Mercado located at 1515 E Lake St. in Minneapolis. The Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation is leading the Mercado Central Local Journalism Project and will produce a documentary about Mercado Central (with award-winning journalist Michael Nigro and youth) and multimedia stories of Mercado businesses (with youth). They also will be developing an innovative youth news team kiosk at the Mercado and organizing community economic empowerment workshops to show how anyone can be an entrepreneur, start their own business, and strengthen communities through asset-based community development.

“The Mercado Central has brought enormous economic benefit to individual entrepreneurs, local workers, the Bloomington/Lake Street business community, and the entire city of Minneapolis,” said Juan Linares, one of the Mercado Central founders who still serves as an advisor for asset-based community development in the Twin Cities. “Now we get to help a new generation use their assets to shape the future.”

The Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation supports communities by investing in youth education, youth development, and healthy lifestyles. Strong Mind Strong Body partners with schools, businesses, and community groups to provide educational and economic opportunities. Their solutions-oriented approach gives youth and families the tools and resources they need to build strong communities. Anyone interested in the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation can contact Eric Ortiz at eric@strongmindstrongbody.org.

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