Bilingual Magazine Helps Encourage Students to Dream Big - Generocity Philly

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Mar. 24, 2015 1:00 pm

Bilingual Magazine Helps Encourage Students to Dream Big

Motivos magazine mentors Philly students in journalism and media.

Bilingual Magazine Helps Encourage Students to Dream Big

Motivos members join with Students Helping Honduras to fight poverty and violence and increase access to bright futures through building schools in Honduras.


About nine years ago, Jenee Chizick founded Motivos magazine by herself.

Now, the bilingual magazine, which showcases student voices in different sections — culture, life issues, college prep and career exploration — recently released its first issue of Volume 9.

The magazine is distributed through Motivos magazine’s educational partners. These include schools, colleges, after-school programs, Latino youth-serving organizations, recreation centers, cultural events, and leadership conferences and workshops mostly in Pennsylvania, but the magazine reaches over 600 schools in 30 states.

“So the partners will subscribe, usually in bulk, for classrooms sets or enough for a whole department to use,” Chizick said. “Then we send an educator toolkit, that adheres to the Common Core, so the teachers can easily implement it in the classroom. That means that you have this engaged audience, that’s working through the content like a scavenger hunt, finding things, competing against each other in the class according to sections of the scavenger hunt.”

Chizick said the teachers also get writing prompts included, so that students from the various educational partners can send submissions for the magazine.

“At a lot of the schools we work with, the parents haven’t gone to college,” Chizick said. “I think the more that they can be exposed to college campuses, even just opportunities after high school, the wider their world becomes, the more excited they get about their future, and the more opportunities they’ll have the confidence to grab onto.”

Chizick works with a small team of students in Philadelphia who curate the submissions they receive as well as are mentored through the process of doing their own reporting and article writing for the magazine. All team members have to do one writing assignment and one community service project per month to be on the team.

“Bilingual media outlets are rare, especially for youth, so it fills a void that’s needed,” Chizick said.“There are so many youth with great potential.”

Chizick said that she and other career professionals, such as photographers and public relations specialists, train the team. She’ll also take them to conferences around media, such as the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Conference at Columbia University, which she took them to last November.

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At the conference in November, Chizick went to a session for newspaper advisors led by another advisor.

“She said, ‘If you’re not teaching the students business skills, too, you’re missing something. You’re doing them a disservice.’ And I always thought that’s kind of the business side that I run, and I’ll teach them the editorial,” Chizick said. “But then I thought, I should teach them the business side, and that’s a good skill to have, and we need it. We need to rally. It’s harder now to get advertising dollars, so we need to teach the kids this skill.”

That December she had the students sell advertisements for Motivos’ gala program book, including making a business plan identifying businesses they were going to speak to and who they were going to approach, with a goal of raising $50 each.

The team also goes on service trips, such as one the team took to Honduras with Students Helping Honduras this past summer.

“I meet all types of new people,” said Sasha Rivera, one of the current participants. “She’s gotten me into different programs through the magazine — how [Jenee] was saying earlier how I was doing a program at PhillyCAM. I never would have found out about it if it wasn’t for her.”

She originally joined the magazine to get in 25 hours of community service. She’s stuck with the program now for four years.

“Jenee just made me love it. I loved meeting new people, I love doing new things, and four years later I’m still here,” Rivera added.

This year, Motivos is hiring high school students for summer jobs and has four media fellowship positions available in Design/Marketing, Editorial, Business/Sale and Community Outreach.

Several of Motivos program participants have gone onto careers in media. For instance, Keisha Frazier, who interned at Motivos, is now an associate producer at NBC in New York. Another former student, Shelly Bai, works for Hearst Publications in China.

Chizick mentioned that the magazine has also influenced those who have read the magazine to reach for bigger and better things — such as a young woman she met at a Taller Puertorriqueno event who told her the magazine got her thinking about college. She attended Penn State, and now works at Congreso de Latinos Unidos.

“For our tenth year, we should gather up some funds and try to reach out as much as possible to our huge database of youth that have been involved and say ‘where are you now? and how did the magazine make an impact on your life?’”

Image via Motivos magazine

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