Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remember the Simpson Street Free Press

Monona's own Dave Zweifel had an excellent column today highlighting the great things that they accomplish at the Simpson Street Free Press and their need for community support.

Dave described the paper thus:
I tell you all this to point out just how unique the Simpson Street Free Press program is. It’s one of the few success stories in bridging that stubborn racial learning gap. The 35 to 40 students involved in the program at any one time almost immediately see their grades rise in school and virtually all of them end up going to college. The kids are a cross-section of Madison youth today -- African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and whites. The program isn’t about games and filling in time to keep kids busy, but about academics and learning.

The young people apply for “jobs” on the Free Press, which include working on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings researching topics, interviewing sources and putting together stories on what they’ve discovered. The paper’s founder and executive director, Jim Kramer, and a team of mostly Free Press alumni, require the staffers to seek perfection by writing and rewriting, sometimes seven or eight times. Despite the rigorous standards, there’s a waiting list of kids trying to get in the program.

About themselves, the Simpson Street Free Press writes:

Free Press student reporters learn practical skills that help them to do better in school. They learn to research, write, question, and think critically. But much more in accomplished with each new stroke at their keyboard. Our writers are authentic role models and youth leaders. They deliver positive messages of achievement and success to thousands of their peers. You can support this important work by joining Friends of the Simpson Street Free Press, advertising with us, joining the Red Rack Express Club or becoming a sponsor. While our publications are well-known and popular, and our task is large, we are a small organization with a modest budget. Community support is crucial to our success.

Sound like the kind of thing you want to support? Of course it does.

So get on over to and sign up to be a 'friend' of the paper. You can quickly make a donation online through PayPal or your credit or debit card.

While you're there you can check out a recent feature story, Wisconsin Landmark Saved From Destruction about the Baraboo Ridge by Annie Shao, age 16.

I blogged about this youth-run newspaper located in Monona's South Towne Mall (in the strip mall next to Happy Wok) about a year ago. (As I noted then, Lake Point Drive used to be called Simpson Street and it was also one of the roughest parts of Madison.).

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