HAMPTON, Va., July 12, 2016 – Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications has selected 50 students to attend the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC) as working journalists and public relations specialists on behalf of the university. Through the support of global strategic communications and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, Hampton students will have a unique opportunity to participate in and report on one of the more fascinating, divisive and potentially historic presidential contests in years.

“This presidential campaign season is chaotic, and it is essential that young people from all backgrounds remain interested, inspired and dedicated to ensuring that our great American democracy continues to flourish and serve future generations,” said Hampton University Scripps Howard Endowed Professor Carol Angela Davis, JD, who is coordinating the project.

Unlike other college students attending the conventions, Hampton University students will organize news-making events featuring prominent Republican and Democratic elected officials and party leaders, provide a platform for Millennials to engage politicians on policy issues and report on all aspects of the conventions, from the nominating floor to demonstrations outside the convention hall. Students will work as event planners, media relations managers, writers, bloggers and photographers, continuously creating content for Hampton University’s social media channels and its radio station, WHOV 88.1 FM.

The student reporters will cover the conventions with a focus on issues affecting Millennials. The students also will hold a town hall at each convention that will feature politicians and locally based issue experts and address the traditions and contributions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 19, Case Western Reserve University will host a town hall on policing and criminal justice reform, climate change and energy policy. Speakers will include conservative leaders Cassandra McDonald, founder of LAWRS Foundation; Jeffrey Green, co-host of the talk show “Tracey and Friends” on WSOM-AM 600 in Salem, Ohio and Blog Talk Radio; Rev. Omarosa Manigault, vice chair, National Diversity Coalition for Trump; and Beavercreek (Ohio) City Councilman Brian Jarvis.

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, the Philadelphia African American Museum will host a town hall that will address mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, energy policy and climate change. Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Democratic Virginia state Rep. Mamie Locke and students from Esperanza College, which has a predominantly Hispanic enrollment in Philadelphia.

“We’re glad to partner with Hampton University to provide this opportunity for our students to exercise their leadership at the DNC,” said Rev. Luis Cortés, founder and CEO of Esperanza. “Our young adults are passionately invested in some of the most pressing issues of our day, including the climate change crisis and the disproportionately high rates of incarceration of Hispanics and other minorities in our communities. These issues affect them and those who are elected to represent them should take their voices seriously.”

In addition to the town halls, Hampton University students will participate in:

  • Receptions at both conventions to salute HBCU graduates, convention delegates and elected officials with political and celebrity guests;
  • A discussion with Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr., former advisor to Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, on the historic relationship between the African-American community and the Republican Party as well as the significance of America’s most storied presidential conventions;
  • A partnership with Thomas Nelson Community College in which Hampton University students will mentor and encourage Thomas Nelson students to continue their studies at a four-year university;
  • A partnership with Yunnan University, China to examine political and cultural differences through discussions with three of Yunnan’s visiting professors;
  • Historical and political scavenger hunts, where the students will work to uncover important aspects of the convention host city; and
  • Media partnerships with Voice of America, Radio One, Revolt TV, Youth Radio, Ideastream and Diva Files to gain experience in television production, reporting, writing, strategic communications, photography and social media engagement.

“Our nation needs young, diverse minds to help navigate our future,” said Don Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller. “I am excited for Burson-Marsteller to work with these students as they learn how to encourage, influence and inspire political participation among all generations.”

This program is an extension of the successful American Dream Project in which Professor Davis took students to the 2012 political conventions. It was designed to teach students, through experiential learning, the importance of understanding diverse perspectives on societal issues and participating in the American political process.

The students will create content through interviews, newsgathering and photography to upload to the project’s proprietary social media sites. To engage with the students along their journey, follow #pirates4politics and #ivotebecause on these channels:

About Hampton University Howard School of Journalism and Communications
Located on a 314-acre waterfront campus at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia, Hampton University is a nearly 150-year-old historically black institution with approximately 5,000 students. About 400 are Journalism or Strategic Communications students at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. The School’s roots go back to 1967, when the Department of Mass Media Arts was first established. In 2002, thanks to a $10 million gift from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the former mass media arts department was expanded into a full journalism and communications school, which then moved into a new building with broadcast, production and technical facilities. Fully accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the Scripps Howard School teaches the core principles of journalism and communications, while producing ethical and competitive leaders who pursue innovation and excellence in their field.

About Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 73 offices and 85 affiliate offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Group, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), the world’s leading communications services network. For more information, please visit www.burson-marsteller.com.

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