Seven-Week Summer Apprenticeship Program

Ron Culp, DePaul University

$25,000 grant

Working with The Midtown Education Foundation (MEF) in Chicago, DePaul has created a public relations and internal communications program aimed at the 400 at-risk city high school students who participate in the MEF summer camp. The camp, operated since 1965, boast a perfect track record – 100% of participating high school seniors have graduated and enrolled in college.

DePaul has built a robust public relations curriculum into the MEF summer camp. A seven-week summer apprenticeship for 18 minority students introduces them to public relations. The kids produce a weekly internal newspaper, “The Midtown Voice,” covering the academic, character education, and personal development programs offered to the students over the summer and expose all of the summer camp participants, their parents, guidance counselors and coaches to the profession of public relations.

Under the direction of two full-time instructors, (an African-American adjunct professor from DePaul and a PR student), the PR program offers students courses in media writing, ethics, and understanding the media. The students also learn about career opportunities in public relations, and will develop, present and execute a public relations campaign for MEF summer program.

Professionals in the Chicago PR community will be engaged as guest lecturers at the Midtown and as hosts for site visits. Participants include professionals from major PR firms (e.g., Edelman, Golin Harris, Ketchum, Weber Shandwick), senior leaders at major Chicago companies (e.g., Boeing, McDonald’s, Tribune Company), and PR specialists at Chicago sports teams (e.g. Kevin Saghy, social media manager for the Cubs and former national president of PRSSA).

Ron Culp and Bob Kornecki act as program sponsors, and help coordinate outreach to the PR community in Chicago. After a distinguished career in both corporate and agency public relations, Ron now directs the graduate program at DePaul, serves on PRSA’s Educational Affairs Committee, the Board of the Plank Center and the Accrediting Committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Bob Kornecki spent his 35-year career with Burson-Marsteller and Edelman. He serves on the board of the Chicago chapter of PRSA as well as the Dean’s Advisory Council at the DePaul College of Communication. He is author of the popular book, “How to Thrive in the Public Relations Business.”

The Midtown Educational Foundation and DePaul have provided a template for their program that can be viewed here: Program Template and Syllabus.

Highlights of the program can be viewed in Conversations and PR Tactics.