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Rhode Island PBS Scholarship Fund
By Jean Cohoon / February 21, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

“We are committed to the principle of lifelong learning and carry that message ‘beyond the box’ into the community,” states David W. Piccerelli, president of the Rhode Island PBS Foundation.

That commitment to community learning was expanded recently with the establishment of this scholarship fund. “This fund supports one of the items in our strategic plan, to make a community impact on education,” Piccerelli explains.

Scholarships from this fund will be awarded to residents of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts who are attending, or are graduating high school seniors planning to attend, a four-year post-secondary school with the goal of a career in broadcasting, communications, and/or journalism. Scholarships will be renewable for up to four years. Learn more and access an appliction.

“A scholarship from this fund could almost be enough to pay for a student’s education at Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island, which have excellent media communications programs,” David says, adding, “We see this as a way of having students choose journalism and communications as a profession.”

Rhode Island PBS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, having transmitted its first broadcast in 1967 as WSBE-TV Channel 36. Established through the State Board of Education, the station later operated under the auspices of the Rhode Island Public Telecommunications Authority. It was during this period that the Rhode Island PBS Foundation was established to raise funds for the station.

In 2012, the station successfully petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transfer the license from the state to the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, making WSBE a community licensee. More recently, the station participated in an FCC “incentive auction,” designed to realign the use of broadcast airwaves. For WSBE, this meant moving from a UHF channel to a VHF channel, a move that provided revenue for the station to invest into programming and services to the community, including this scholarship fund.

In choosing to establish the fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, David explains, “From our perspective, it’s a natural choice. The Foundation already administers scholarship funds with an excellent reputation, and this builds on our existing partnership in other projects.”

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