Up to $15K in PBS scholarship funds available to local media students

PROVIDENCE – Established in December, the inaugural Rhode Island PBS Scholarships offered by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation scholarship will award up to $15,000 to prospective local students of journalism, broadcasting and communications, according to the Rhode Island Foundation Thursday.

In designing the new scholarship program, “we wanted [the amount] to be meaningful enough” to cover most of the tuition at the top-notch media programs of the University of Rhode Island or Providence College, said David Piccerelli, president of the Rhode Island PBS Foundation.

For students who may be financially-burdened, he added, “this would be a good way to get a great college education funded.”

Funding for the scholarship program, said Piccerelli, came when the station participated in an FCC “incentive auction” which transitioned the local broadcast from UHF to VHF airwaves which saved the station money.

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Piccerelli explained, from there, the station, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017,  “did a refresh on our strategic plan with the knowledge that we would have funds available to us to do a lot of different things for the community” – including this scholarship program.

“Broadcasting is a really narrow focus,” Piccerelli said and the eligibility was opened up to journalism and communications majors so more students could access the funds.

Applications will be accepted from graduating Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass. high school seniors who plan to attend a four-year post-secondary school or one which is already enrolled in such a higher education institution.

According to the application guidelines, applicants must also show a “demonstration of merit towards a successful career in broadcasting, communications and/or journalism.”

Currently, according to Piccerelli, there is $1 million put aside for the scholarship program. However, he explained, the Rhode Island PBS Foundation’s “intent” is to award one $15,000 scholarship per year.

Because the scholarships are renewable for three years after initial receipt, by the fourth year there will be four scholarships being awarded to local students.

He did note if a student requested a scholarship of less than $15,000 the station might “consider” a partial scholarship of the remainder to add up to $15,000.

The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 6.

The Rhode Island PBS Foundation has tasked the Rhode Island Foundation with the management of the $1 million in scholarship funds and the application process. For more information visit the Rhode Island Foundation’s website.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.