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About Youthcast Media Group

Achieving change, one story at a time

We are Youthcast Media Group

Mission: Youthcast Media Group™ (YMG) trains high school students from under-resourced communities to report, write and broadcast stories that highlight solutions to the health, wealth, and social disparities where they live. YMG students, 95% of whom are Black or Hispanic, learn to harness the power of their voices to share the rich experiences of their communities.

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Our 
Story

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Youthcast Media Group (YMG), formerly the Urban Health Media Project, teaches high school students across the country to report on health and social issues that are often overlooked in their communities. We understand that “healthiness” results from a variety of forces as described by the World Health Organization: “Healthiness is not the absence of disease, but the mental, physical and spiritual well being of a person or community.”

 

Not a day goes by without a news report highlighting socioeconomic and racial disparities in health outcomes; the insidious impact of violence; the alarming rise in teen suicide; and the importance of health policy concerns within the American political debate. Our students’ multimedia reporting on these and other topics includes video, articles and photography produced under the guidance of a diverse and experienced group of journalists that include reporters and editors who work or have worked at media outlets including USA TODAY, the Baltimore Sun, Kaiser Health News, the Associated Press, Dateline: NBC, Discovery, the Wall St. Journal and the Washington Post.

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A Note from Our Founder

Youthcast Media Group™ (YMG) launched in March 2017 as Urban Health Media Project to train diverse high school students from under-resourced communities how to produce multimedia journalism on health and social issues. Since then, we’ve trained more than 300 students to write everything from TikTok captions to news briefs to full-length feature stories, while others filmed or appeared in videos, shot photographs and created social posts. 

We’ve kept much of our focus on the social determinants of health, including the food insecurity, housing and transportation challenges that lead to glaring health disparities in many of our students’ neighborhoods. But we expanded quickly so our youth now focus on mental health reporting just as much as they do coverage of causes and solutions to poor health. We’ve covered the shortage of mental health counselors in schools and the broad demographics of domestic violence (those stories both ran in USA TODAY), along with art therapy, the pros and cons of antidepressants and living with schizophrenia.

The students from our first cohort are now in college; one has already graduated from Syracuse University and is working in environmental communications for the city of Philadelphia. Another student has an annual summer internship at a TV station in Baltimore while attending the University of Maryland’s Honors College. Others are at University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of the District of Columbia and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, while newer alumni attend Pomona College, Ohio State, Stanford University and the University of Miami, to name a few. 

We’ve run reporting and writing workshops about housing, climate and poverty’s effects on health, along with — always — the solutions. Workshop participants’ articles and some of our independent student reporting has run in publications including the Miami Herald, Bronx Times, Mindsite News, Solutions Journalism Exchange and the Philadelphia Tribune. 

We also teach how to create accurate, unbiased and grammatical TikToks on the decriminalization of mental illness and have a curriculum that teaches about the racial wealth gap’s origins, effects on health and solutions while training students to report using Instagram Reels. 

We’ve now trained middle and high school students from 14 states including D.C, with the largest concentration in Miami, Baltimore and Philadelphia, along with our (virtual) headquarters in Washington, D.C. We’ve come a long way from our launch with a $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. And we can go even further with more grantors, students, partners and pro bono help. Want to talk about how we could work together? Email me at jodonnell@youthcastmediagroup.org. I’d love to hear from you.

Jayne O’Donnell

YMG Founder and CEO

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