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Middle School Students Compete for Exposure in National Photojournalism Program
    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"
                          Educational Project

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 program.

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."

National Exhibition

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