Skip to main content.

USC Annenberg names 23 National Fellows and awards grants for reporting on effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and families

USC Annenberg names 23 National Fellows and awards grants for reporting on effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and families

Picture of Michelle Levander
A man wears a face mask as he check his phone in Times Square in New York City.
(Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Here at the USC Center for Health Journalism, we’re proud to welcome 23 journalists from around the nation to our annual National Fellowship this week for five days of intensive training that delves into reporting on health disparities and vulnerable children, youth and families, as viewed through a COVID-19 lens.

In this historic moment of crisis, investigative and explanatory journalism is more important than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the nation to reckon with the systemic inequities built into our social welfare and health care policies. We are counting on the talented group of journalists in our 2020 National Fellowship to tell stories that need to be told – serving as a catalyst for change.

Each of the competitively chosen journalists will receive a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from the Center or its two specialty reporting funds, the  Fund for Journalism on Child and Youth Well-Being and the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism to assist them with undertaking ambitious explanatory or investigative reporting projects over the next five months.  The Center also provides mentoring by veteran journalists to all program participants. Five of the journalists will receive additional grants and specialized mentoring on community engagement.

The 2020 National Fellowship is funded by generous grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,  the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism. The Center also receives core support from The California Endowment.

The Center for Health Journalism provides five days of presentations and workshops focused on vulnerable children and families and the community conditions and life experiences that affect their well-being. The program continues with monthly meetings through November. Because of the pandemic, the Fellowship is being held online via Zoom this year.

Journalist Linda Villarosa, a contributing writer for the New York Times magazine, will kick off the Fellowship with a keynote address titled “Getting Under the Skin: Telling Stories of Race, Health and Social Justice,” followed by a discussion of disparities and COVID-19 by eminent Harvard scholar David R. Williams.

During the National Fellowship week, participating journalists also will hear from experts on childhood trauma, explore the effects of the pandemic on Native Americans,  and learn about datasets that explore health and equity. They’ll also receive lessons in engaged journalism. We’ll host intimate conversations with the director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and providers and teen peer counselors at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in East Harlem.

The Center for Health Journalism is inviting a broader audience to participate in its National Fellowship discussion on “The Learning Gap” caused by remote learning during the pandemic. Speakers include one of the nation’s foremost experts on preschool education, W. Steven Barnett, PhD, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University; Joel E. Cisneros, LCSW, director of school mental health for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the nation; and Tawnell D. Hobbs, national education reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Click here to learn more and to register

Among the topics the Fellows will explore in their reporting projects are the effects of the pandemic on youth in the foster care system in New York City and on an Indian reservation in North  and South Dakota. Reporters will focus on how COVID-19 has affected the lives of residents of a single block in Newark, NJ, the Navajo nation and San Francisco’s Chinatown; Pacific Islanders in both Hawaii and the mainland United States; immigrants in border communities in California and Texas; children in schools in impoverished neighborhoods of Chicago; and more.

Since 2005, the Center for Health Journalism has trained more than 1000 journalists on the craft and content of health journalism, with an emphasis on health equity and the relationship between health and place.  Previous Fellowship projects can be found here

Here are the 2020 National Fellows:

Center for Health Journalism Grantees

Jessica BedollaRadio Bilingue

Shannon Firth and Elizabeth Hlavinka,  MedPage

**Shiqiao Peng, SingTao Daily

Pedro Rojas, Univision

**Claire Stremple, KHNS Local News and Alaska Energy Desk

 Fund for Journalism on Child and Youth Well-being Grantees

Roxanna Asgarian, The Appeal

Neil Bedi, Tampa Bay Times

JacqueLynn Hatter,  WFSU Public Media and Health News Florida

**Sarah Karp, WBEZ (Chicago)

Dan Levin, New York Times

Adreanna Rodriguez, Snap Judgment

 Dennis Hunt Fund for Health Journalism Grantees

Angela Caputo, American Pubic Media

Dan Diamond, Politico

Valeria Fernandez, Radio Bilingue

**Anita Hofschneider, CivilBeat (Honolulu)

Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media

Rachel Monahan, Willamette Week

Nathan O'Neal and Colton Shone, KOB 4 (Albuquerque)

Tim O'Shei, Buffalo News

**Herbert White, The Charlotte Post

Dounan Alissa Zhu, Jackson Clarion-Ledger

**Community Engagement Grantees




















Leave A Comment


The wave of attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been emotionally gutting for these communities. In our next webinar, we’ll examine the impact of the crisis on the mental health of Asian Americans, especially the women who are often targeted. Join us for a deep discussion to inform your coverage of the crisis and broader reporting on AAPI communities. Sign-up here!

As public health officials like to say, "COVID-19 isn't done with us." And journalists know that we're not done with COVID-19. Apply now for five days of stimulating discussions on the pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of color -- plus reporting and engagement grants of $2k-$10k and five months of mentoring while you work on an ambitious project.

Are you passionate about helping journalists understand and illuminate the social factors that contribute to health and health disparities at a time when COVID-19 has highlighted the costs of such inequities? Looking to play a big role in shaping journalism today in the United States? The USC Center for Health Journalism seeks an enterprising and experienced journalism leader for our new position of “Manager of Projects.” 



Follow Us



CHJ Icon