Announcing the recipients of the 2021 Les Brownlee scholarship, Intern Grant awards

The Chicago Headline Club and the Chicago Headline Club Foundation have selected Borderless Magazine and the Evanston RoundTable as recipients of the 2021 Intern Grant awards, and DePaul University senior Cameron “Cam” Rodriguez as the winner of the Les Brownlee Memorial Scholarship.

The Chicago Headline Club Foundation annually awards two $5,000 grants to fund internships at non-for-profit media organizations. The funds are designated to support the direct costs of internships from July 1 through June 30, 2022. The $5,000 annual Les Brownlee grant is awarded to a Chicago-area journalism student in honor of Brownlee, who died in 2005 and was the first African-American member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the first African-American president of the Chicago Headline Club.

For the intern grants, the foundation board selected winning news outlets from a diverse array of applicants representing nonprofit print, broadcast, and online news organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area. The foundation assessed the candidates and evaluated their plans to provide hands-on, impactful experiences and stipends for journalism interns.

“The Chicago Headline Club Foundation is honored to be able to support vital internship opportunities at these important news organizations. Internships are essential positions for training rising young journalists in the essential skills and values needed to excel in a competitive news market,” Foundation President Molly McDonough said. “We are thrilled to support the work of small non-profit news organizations that are making an impact.”

Chicago-based Borderless Magazine works with immigrants and their allies to tell their own stories and trains journalists to more ethically report on immigration issues.

“The Chicago Headline Club Foundation grant will help us deepen our work creating pathways for emerging journalists from immigrant communities in Chicago and beyond,” said Nissa Rhee, co-founder and executive director of Borderless Magazine. “We believe who tells the story of immigration really matters. We appreciate the foundation’s investment in Borderless Magazine’s work making our industry more representative of the people we cover.”

The Evanston RoundTable works to foster civic engagement and address complex issues facing Evanston’s diverse community. It has been recognized for its in-depth, objective coverage of Evanston’s city government, schools, social issues, arts and culture, and sports.

“This grant will help the RoundTable to recruit and mentor a budding journalist from a historically marginalized community to help us report on the groundbreaking attempts to combat systemic racial inequity in Evanston,” said Tracy Quattrocki, senior editor at the RoundTable. “We expect to use the funds to deepen our reporting on educational equity in Evanston, the impact of remote learning on student achievement, the redistricting of racially diverse neighborhoods, and the push to open a school in the city’s predominantly Black Fifth Ward.”

For the Brownlee scholarship, the club and the foundation received a record 31 applications from an array of excellent candidates from private and public institutions and community colleges from across the Chicago area. Rodriguez was chosen on June 2 by the Foundation Board after an extensive review.

Applicants for the Les Brownlee Scholarship are current undergraduate journalism students at Chicago-area colleges or universities. Candidates are assessed by a committee of the Headline Club Foundation and evaluated on their previous experience, clips, cover letter and demonstrated interest in pursuing a journalism career.

“There were many terrific candidates this year, which made our job of selecting only one even harder, but Rodriguez was an exceptional candidate,” Foundation President Molly McDonough said. “She stood out, and we are proud to give her this scholarship to help her continue her studies and cover part of her tuition. We think she will do great things in journalism.”

Rodriguez is graduating this month from DePaul University with a BA in journalism with a minor in geography and geographic information systems. She is enrolled in a graduate journalism program at DePaul pursuing her Master of Arts in journalism with a data journalism concentration. She has a wide skillset, including editing and producing multimedia work, data, research and visualization, and interactive mapping, and she has demonstrated a dedication to using emerging journalism tools and traditional strategies to engage readers and viewers.

“I’m so grateful for this scholarship from the Chicago Headline Club Foundation. This will have a huge impact on my studies and I’m honored to carry on the legacy of Les Brownlee,” said Rodriguez after learning she was the winner.

Rodriguez is managing editor and a newsletter editor of DePaul’s “14 East Magazine,” has served as a research intern at WTTW-Channel 11 (PBS) in Chicago, and as an election fellow monitoring social media channels for misinformation and voter questions last fall at The Detroit Free Press. This summer, she will be a Dow Jones News Fund intern with USA Today’s national data team.

Applications for next year’s Brownlee scholarship and intern grants will open in February of 2022.

Visit for more information about the Chicago Headline Club and its Foundation, which provides funding to support professional, student, and citizen journalists for the enhancement of responsible and ethical media practices.