A Global Impact

By Desiree Holz '23, November 24, 2020
Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp receives two grants, including one from the U.S. State Department.

Project Look Sharp, Ithaca College’s media literacy program, received several new grants — one from the Park Foundation and one from the U.S. State Department.

“The State Department grant specified that applicants needed to use Project Look Sharp’s unique approach to teach media literacy and critical thinking to Panamanian students as a part of their English language instruction,” said Chris Sperry, director of Curriculum and Staff Development at Project Look Sharp. “They crafted this grant with us in mind.”

“I received an email from the head of the National Association for Media Literacy Education saying, ‘I just saw this grant that’s based on Project Look Sharp’s approach’ and what’s funny was that, at that point, we hadn’t even heard of it,” said Cyndy Scheibe, executive director and founder of Project Look Sharp.

Having received the grant, the team at Project Look Sharp is currently designing two weeks of training for approximately 100 teachers and teacher-trainers in Panama during January 2021. This will enable the teachers to incorporate question-based media literacy decoding into their teaching of English language arts in schools throughout Panama.

“There’s a lot of resonance around the world for this work, and it’s very student-centered. It teaches critical thinking during a time when we need to work on well-reasoned thinking on the part of our next generation of students.”

Chris Sperry, director of Curriculum and Staff Development at Project Look Sharp

Project Look Sharp also received a grant from The Park Foundation for the 11th time.. It will be used to create new lessons to focus on sustainability and global warming, anti-bias and racial justice and other issues. The funding will also be used to invest in new technologies to publicize Project Look Sharp’s work to the general public and to adapt lesson plans to the current online learning environment.

The funding from the Park Foundation will also be used to help train future Project Look Sharp staff, ensuring that the longstanding relationship between the two will continue.

“We really see the Park Foundation as our partner in many ways,” said Scheibe.

In addition to these grants, Project Look Sharp’s approach to media literacy integration was highlighted in a Democracy Ready NY report about media literacy education in New York State public schools. The report advocates Project Look Sharp’s approach of integrating media literacy into existing curriculum, rather than simply creating a standalone media literacy unit.

Currently, Project Look Sharp is pursuing additional funding for a program in New York City to pilot a statewide program that would thoroughly integrate media literacy lessons in all New York State schools.

Project Look Sharp provides free resources for educators for integrating media literacy throughout the curriculum, including over 500 media literacy lessons for different grades and subject areas. It also provides professional development for educators across New York State, the nation and the world.