NLP Students Shine at Council on Foundations’ National Conference

Moderator Gwen Ifill and six high school students who completed NLP units elicited an exceptional response when they appeared before 1,100 philanthropic leaders at the Council on Foundations national conference in Washington in June to discuss how they consume news.

Here are three of the many laudatory tweets from those in attendance:

The session was part of the conference’s kickoff luncheon program. Ifill, the co-anchor and managing editor of "PBS NewsHour," moderator of "Washington Week" and a member of NLP’s board, led the students in an exploration of their consumption of news in the nation’s politically polarized society.

The students were Stewart Gray and Carlos McKnight of Thurgood Marshall Public Charter High School and Nabani Ashraf of Bell Multicultural High School in Washington; Angie Ames and Yashodhar Govil of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.; and Margaret Sella of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md.

Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, introduced the panel and described NLP as "a fabulous effort to teach young people how to separate fact from fiction."

Asked by Ifill about his hopes for his generation as consumers of news, McKnight recalled the McCarthy era and the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s. "What I hope for for our generation is to check it out," he said.

"You want the truth," Govil said, adding that the best way to find it is to seek out multiple sources and "to read extensively."

The panel concluded with Ifill asking Gray, who is bound for Stanford, what he will take with him.

"My primary concern is not to be ashamed of who I am and where I came from," he said. "To be confident in my abilities to discern information and news and to be confident in myself."

NLP President Alan Miller appeared on a news literacy panel the next day. He was joined by David Hiller, president of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation; Alison Bernstein, director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University and an NLP board member; and Howard Schneider, dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and founder of the Center for News Literacy there. The panel was moderated by Ray Suarez, host of "Inside Story" on Al Jazeera America.

The Council on Foundations is the leading industry group for the country’s philanthropic organizations.