SPJVA donates to Sierra Jenkins Scholarship Fund

In an email vote this month, the board of directors of the SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter agreed to donate $150 to the scholarship fund established in the memory of Sierra Jenkins, a Virginian-Pilot reporter who was fatally shot in Norfolk in March.

The board also urged SPJVA members and supporters to consider contributing to the fund. Donations can be made at https://bit.ly/SierraJenkinsScholarshipFund.

The Virginia Press Association’s charitable arm, the Virginia Press Foundation, has partnered with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, to establish the Sierra Jenkins Scholarship Fund.

Jenkins, 25, was tragically shot and killed on March 19 while leaving a Norfolk pizza restaurant. To honor the Norfolk native’s memory, the fund will provide one-time scholarships to Virginia residents pursuing a degree in journalism or communications at a four-year Virginia college or university.

“The Virginia Press Foundation’s mission is to provide training and resources for student journalists,” said Anne Adams, president of the board of the foundation. “This scholarship fits directly with our mission and helps students further their education in our incredibly important field.”

Jenkins was a 2019 Georgia State University graduate who worked as a news assistant at CNN before returning to her hometown in 2020 to join The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press news teams.

“Sierra was all the things you look for in a journalist: curious, energetic, smart, driven,” said Kris Worrell, editor of The Virginian-Pilot and The Daily Press and a VPA and VPF board member. “She loved being an education reporter for her hometown newspaper and she had a way of getting people to talk to her. Maybe because she was so warm and such a good listener. People trusted her.”

Hampton Roads Community Foundation President Deborah DiCroce said that her organization is humbled to be chosen to administer the fund.

“Sierra’s death is a senseless tragedy, and our heart goes out to her family and friends,” DiCroce said. “The fund will forever keep Sierra’s memory and passion alive by supporting students who believe in the power of journalism to inform, enlighten, and inspire.”

“We could not have established the scholarship without the sound guidance and management provided by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation,” said Adams. “We are deeply grateful to the foundation for steering this effort.”

The fund will begin accepting applications in December of this year and scholarship will be made available to students in the 2023-24 school year.

Published by SPJ Virginia Pro

SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

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