What We Do
An Overview of Our Programs

The True Star Foundation operates a unique model that holds weekly after-school, in-school and summer programming in which students are educated about a variety of disciplines in the media industry.  Students not only learn about the profession, they actually work cooperatively to produce, professional-quality work in each area. Current programs are offered in:

The goal of the Digital Media Program is for every student involved to become a better communicator by learning how to blend several types of methods in a concise message.  This blend is a mix of traditional media (writing and reporting) and new media (digital photography, audio and video).

The Editorial Team learns writing skills to become proficient in magazine writing by creating story submissions for True Star Magazine.  This intensive training ground acts as a Jourmalism 101 program that teaches literary skills and enhances young journalistic abilities to analyze major media and social conditions.  This team creates the voice for the magazine by tackiling topics like the presidential election, youth violence, drug abuse, diabetes, and more.  The Editorial Team also copy edits, fact checks, and  selects the strongest stories for placement in the magazine. Topics and issues that are affecting urban teens are openly discussed, and with an instructor’s guidance, are turned into story subjects that are assigned to students.

The Advertising Sales and Marketing Team learn the business of media, i.e. how advertising drives major media, the art of selling and the value of the teen market.  In addition, this team learns professional development skills and communication skills, including how to present, persuade and influence. Teens present to major corporations and ad agencies, as well as develop marketing programs for consumer facing companies attempting to reach the youth market.

The True Star Radio Broadcasting Program gives urban youth a basic understanding of radio broadcasting. Sales, programming, production, and promotions are the departments covered in this program. Students also execute a two-hour on-air shift at  Urban Broadcast Media (UBM), and then participate in an open critique session.

The Photography Team gives urban youth a basic understanding of photography and the power of capturing the moments of everyday life.  Teens learn how to approach photography by carefully selecting topics, detailing the tasks of an assignment, researching subjects, using imagination to visually alter the subject, and a constant reworking towards the goals of clarity and consistency.  Through actual camera work, students also complete a number of assignments as well as critique other photographer’s work.  The Photography Team builds a stock photo database for True Star and its media properties as well.

The goal of the Graphic Design Team is to learn technical design capabilities in the field of graphic design.  This includes becoming proficient in design software, i.e. Adobe Design Suite, on industry standard equipment such as MAC computers.  This team learns design from a hands-on approach by developing creative materials via design software, and using art direction to design and layout True Star Jr. magazine, create marketing materials, and other collateral as they relate to True Star.  Youth also learn how to think critically to determine the needs of a potential client, the message the design should portray, and its appeal to customers or users.  At the conclusion of each program, teens will have developed a portfolio.

The Street Team Ambassador Rep (STARs) learns the art of grassroots promotion.  This program teaches youth how to engage and connect with the larger community to deliver a specific message or promote a call-to-action.  Youth are trained on messaging and on how to strategically deliver the message to a target audience.

The True Star Jr. program mirrors the True Star Magazine program at the junior high school level. It is an interactive offering serving as an intensive training ground, teaching students literary, oratorical and written communication skills.  Additionally students learn research, fact-checking and editing techniques and, all skills necessary to be successful in various fields such as:  journalism, business and communications.  Students also become proficient in interviewing and reporting.  Students create the voice for the magazine, covering traditional, controversial and popular topics.  The young journalists become proficient in analyzing major media and social conditions.

Major Funders and Partners

  • Robert R. McCormick Foundation
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Polk Bros Foundation
  • Chicago Tribune Foundation
  • City of Chicago – DFSS
  • After School Matters (ASM)
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Thornton Fractional School District 215
  • State Farm
  • iHeart Media
  • Urban Broadcast Media (UBM)
  • Hive Chicago Learning Network
  • Chicago City of Learning (CCOL)
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Chicago Youth Voices Network