SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 27, 2003--
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographers Focus 7th and 8th Graders on
Public Service in Washington Mutual's "Home of the Free"
Mix middle-school students with high-end digital cameras and some
of the country's most respected photographers and you begin to get a
picture of Washington Mutual's innovative "Home of the Free" education
Launched last year in the New York-New Jersey region, Home of the
Free gives seventh and eighth grade students an assignment to document
the daily activities of civil servants, community leaders and
government officials in their communities. Armed with brand new Canon
G2 digital cameras and the advice and guidance of experienced,
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists, student teams compete for
recognition as the best student photographers in their city -- and
nationwide. This year, Washington Mutual's Home of the Free program
will expand to include students in Denver, Chicago, and the New
York-New Jersey regions.
Under the direction of program chair David Hume Kennerly, student
teams will learn how to photograph and document the daily routines of
local civil servants. Kennerly is a Pulitzer Prize-winning
photojournalist whose work includes the now iconic photo of Richard
Nixon's final wave as he departed the White House. In addition, a
panel of judges selecting the region's best student photographs will
be led by Pulitzer Prize-winning program co-chairs Eddie Adams (NY),
Carol Guzy (National Co-Chair), Dean Krakel (Denver) and John White
(Chicago). Regional broadcast anchors are also lending a hand -- Ernie
Anastos from CBS in New York and Antonio Mora from CBS in Chicago.
"Washington Mutual's unique educational program, 'Home of the
Free' started out as a lesson in civics and photojournalism," says
Kennerly. "But it has also helped students learn that their lives are
touched everyday by public servants -- who they may have passed a
dozen times without ever really noticing. This program helps kids feel
connected to their community in ways that will last a lifetime."
How Home of The Free Works
Each participating school will receive a high-quality digital
camera from Canon, a nationally approved curriculum and a $500
honorarium. The public schools were chosen based on their proximity to
a Washington Mutual Financial Center and the percentage of students
receiving free or subsidized lunches. Each middle school in the
program is then paired with a local Washington Mutual Financial
Center, where student photographs will be displayed. The best
photographs from each school will compete with the work of other
student teams for recognition at a reception and exhibition at the
Historical Society in each region. The best student team in each
region will then be invited on a trip to Washington, D.C., for a
national exhibition, which will also include work from Kennerly's
upcoming book, "The Balance of Power: The Government and the Press at
the Turn of the Century," to be published Spring, 2004.
"The looks on the students' faces when they saw their photographs
being displayed at the local Washington Mutual branch told me
everything I needed to know about the Home of the Free program," said
Amina Rochman, United Federation of Teachers. "The students' sense of
pride and accomplishment were palpable. I look forward to working with
a new crop of student photojournalists on this year's program."
Students Work With Experienced Mentors
Working journalists in each of the three regions have been
recruited as Media Mentors to guide local student teams. The best
student photographs will be selected by a board of judges that
includes noted photographers and photo editors from local and national
media. Photographs will be evaluated based on their journalistic,
historical, and narrative content -- winning photographs in each
region will be presented at an opening reception at the local
historical society and will also be displayed and their local
Washington Mutual Financial Center.
"Getting young people interested in history can be a challenge,"
said Kenneth T. Jackson, president & CEO of the New-York Historical
Society, site of last year's Home of the Free. "Imagine our delight
when these seventh and eighth graders showed up already excited about
the process of documenting their communities for future generations."
One student team from each of the three region's Historical
Societies will be invited to participate in a trip to Washington,
D.C., to be honored by a national exhibit. An opening reception for
the national exhibit, hosted by Washington Mutual, will include
national, state and local elected officials, civic and educational
leaders, Kennerly the team of Pulitzer Prize-winning co-chairs and
judges, Home of the Free media hosts, students, parents and teachers.
In addition, each of the Historical Societies will have a Home of the
Free exhibition opening beginning in November. All of the work in the
national exhibit, as well as the work in each of the three regional
exhibits, will be available on the Internet at
"The Home of the Free program created such excitement in New York
and New Jersey last year, that we were determined to expand it to
other regions of the country in 2003," said Deanna Oppenheimer,
Washington Mutual president of Banking and Financial Services. "The
media mentors, co-chairs and competition judges include an incredible
roster of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists. When we see our
participating students and teachers connect with photographers whose
work has been published in such prominent media outlets as Newsweek,
Vanity Fair, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press, you begin
to see the students' young horizons broaden just a little bit."
Program Schedule and Official Sponsors
The Home of the Free program will kick off in Chicago, Denver and
New York-New Jersey at the start of the school year in September.
Regional judging events will take place in October, and regional
exhibit openings and receptions will take place at the New York,
Chicago, and Denver Historical Societies in November and December
(Chicago: November 12; Denver: November 13; NY/NJ: December 3). The
student trip to the national exhibition in Washington, D.C., will take
place in June, 2004.
Along with Washington Mutual, official sponsors of Home of the
Free program include: Canon U.S.A., which is supplying
professional-quality G2 digital cameras to the student teams; the
Chicago Historical Society; the Colorado History Museum, and the New
York Historical Society, which will be hosting the student receptions
and exhibition in each of the three regions.
About Washington Mutual
Washington Mutual is one of the nation's leading retailers of
financial services. A hallmark of the Seattle-based company's more
than 100-year history is its unwavering commitment to its communities.
This is reflected in the company's pledge to reinvest $375 billion in
low- and moderate-income communities over a 10-year period, and in
focusing the majority of its charitable giving on K-12 public
education and affordable housing. Coupled with its employees'
commitment to volunteerism, Washington Mutual is actively striving to
make its communities better places in which to live and work.
Additional information can be obtained on the company's website:
CONTACT: Washington Mutual
Derek Aney, 646-521-3327
Big Mouth Communications
Amy Bonetti, 415-384-0900
SOURCE: Washington Mutual