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Hope Squad is the pre-professional, year-long training program for K-12 students in new approaches, methods, and technologies in transformative journalism. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the first cohort of Hope Squad, currently with 18 students, will meet once a month on Zoom and later meet in-person at the Communities of Hope Summit. During each meeting, students will learn directly from a specialized professional and workshop their own stories. Participants will be paid for each story they produce and submit as part of the program and will have their stories published by professional media.


Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort are currently closed, but contact us about the 2023-2024 cohort.


If you are interested in supporting this program, you can make a donation or contact us directly. Thank you!

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Meet the Cohort!

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Camila Kulahlioglu

Camila Kulahlioglu is a senior in high school at The Bronx High School of Science in New York City. She is a Staff Reporter for her school’s newspaper, The Science Survey, and has been involved avidly in the Bronx Science journalism program for the past three years. She employs journalistic writing as an outlet to express her opinions about current topics, ranging from the arts to politics, and to inspire her peers to be engaged in current events. Camila especially enjoys feature writing as it challenges her to present a subject through a new lens. In her free time, Camila enjoys exploring New York City’s many historic neighborhoods and their fascinating architecture. She plans to pursue interdisciplinary studies connecting applied mathematics and journalism when she goes to college.

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Sonya

Kulkarni

Sonya Kulkarni is a senior at Bellaire High School and the two-year Executive Editor-in-Chief of her school's award-winning student newspaper, the Three Penny Press. She found her passion in community-based reporting after interning with the PBS Student Reporting Labs to collect student opinions on headline news, and believes writing can give a voice to the unheard. She is passionate about public health, business, and medicine, and aspires to become a physician when she graduates, striving to shape a future of medically literate individuals by increasing scientific awareness amongst youth. Outside of school, she can be found reading, working on research projects, and drinking copious amounts of tea. 

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Kelly

Broder

Kelly Broder is a senior at Sandwich High School on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. She is the founder and editor of SHS Quarterly, a periodical focused on social advocacy. Kelly interns as a weekly reporter at her local newspaper, the Sandwich Enterprise. She joined the Hope Squad through the SPJ Northeast Summer Journalism Institute. Kelly is involved in the Anti-Defamation League’s ‘A World of Difference’ Program, is the Secretary of the Civic Action Team at Sandwich High School, a member of Chicas For Change and Fiber Arts Club, and is an active alumni of Project 351. Kelly works as a server at Beth’s Bakery & Cafe. She hopes to study Journalism and Women’s Studies in the Boston area. Kelly is dedicated to social activism with an emphasis on gender equality and intersectionality. Her older sisters, Jenny and Abby, are her best friends and driving supports in all her endeavors.

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Hannah

Steinberg

Hannah Steinberg is a junior at Pelham (N.Y.) Memorial High School. She loves writing and is the news editor and reporter for her school paper, the Pel Mel, and is a writer and the opinions and ideas editor for her town paper. Hannah also writes for the Headliners in Education newsroom and was a part of SPJ’s Northeast High School Journalism Institute. In her free time, Hannah loves to read, explore the world, drink coffee, go shopping, and listen to music. She runs the Student for Refugees club at her school and volunteers teaching English to refugees. She also started an Ocean Conservation Club at the high school since it is an issue she is very passionate about. Hannah is interested in broadcast journalism and aspires to be a journalist for CNN.

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Brooke

Elliot

Brooke Elliott is a senior at Lindenhurst High School. With a passion for writing and literature, she plans on pursuing a career in journalism. She is editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and recently worked on the Greene Team at the Robert W. Greene Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook. She’s also a four-year varsity tennis player. Outside of the classroom, Brooke has worked as a sailing instructor for the past three years, as well as a lifeguard for two. She loves living on the water, and every year she volunteers at the Great South Bay cleanup. She enjoys collecting vinyl records, reading, and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

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Gianna Costanzo

Gianna Costanzo is a senior at Woodland Regional High School. She joined the Hope Squad after attending the SPJ Northeast High School Summer Journalism Institute. She has worked as the Copy Editor and Online Director for her high school paper, Hawk Headlines News, since her junior year. She is also the President of her school’s Crime Scene Investigation club and an executive member of the Quill and Scroll Honor Society. In her spare time, Costanzo enjoys reading, going to the beach and spending time with family.

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Emily

Boyle

Emily Boyle is a senior at Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey. She is Features Editor of the student newspaper Eastside, and Head of Design for the Demogorgon Literary Magazine. For the second year, she is an inductee of the NSPA Honor Roll of Student Journalists. During the summer, she has written for Headliners in Education and the SPJ Summer Institute. She enjoys traveling, going to concerts, and writing.

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Theresa Stronach

Theresa Stronach is a Senior at Dedham High School. She joined the Hope Squad after attending the Society of Professional Journalists Summer Institute. At her school, she is a player on the softball, hockey, and field hockey teams. She also enjoys working as the president of the DHS chapter of Best Buddies. She has worked as the Editor in Chief of the Dedham Mirror since she was a Sophomore. Additionally, she finds joy working as a part of her school's performing arts company as a stage manager and member of the executive board. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her friends and family.

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Alexia

Nastasia

Alexia Nastasia is a recent graduate (International Baccalaureate diploma) from Lindbergh High School in Saint Louis, Missouri, and a 2022-23 participant in the U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad Program (placement in Senegal). In recent years, Alexia has been a member of various leadership bodies from local to international levels including the Saint Louis County Youth Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of FOCUS Saint Louis, the Youth Preparedness Council of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,and the Student Advisory Board of Girls Learn International. She has been a summer intern in Bank of America's Student Leaders Program and an apprentice in Missouri Historical Society’s Teens Make History Program. She contributed to editing the high school magazine and is on the core teams of the Feminist Focus blog and The Greenzine. After the gap year in Senegal, college, and graduate school, she plans to seek a career in diplomacy with a social justice focus.

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Alysa

grillo

Alysa Grillo is a high school student from Brooklyn, New York. She attends Curtis High School in Staten Island and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma student. She has a great interest in writing and continues to take on opportunities that will allow her to grow as a writer. At school, she is the editor of the newspaper, as well as editor-in-chief of the yearbook. From this experience, she has been able to write about various topics including sports, student life, and issues important to the student body. She joined Communities of Hope because she wanted to learn how to shed light on sensitive issues that communities are facing in the best way possible. In her free time, she enjoys running and hopes to run a marathon one day.

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Katrina Machetta

Katrina Machetta is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a reporter/contributor for several publications, including the Los Angeles Times, PBS News hour, Youth Journalism International, Stanford Daily News, Navajo-Hopi Observer, Yale Daily News, STEM Magazine, YR Media, Faithfully Magazine, Auteur Magazine, and Habitat for Humanity News. An avid community leader, she serves as Teen Court Advocate for underrepresented youth at the City of Houston’s Municipal Courts, President and Communications Director for Miss STEM International, Co-founder of Auteur Magazine, and Founder of Crafting Connections. She is a storyteller that aims to tell the untold stories in our society. She is a spoken word poet, writer, journalist, and community advocate. Her work has been featured on local and national stages, and she aspires to evoke passion and intellect in her writing to create a more vibrant world.

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Savanna Atstupenas

Savanna Atstupenas is going into her junior year of high school. She is an inspiring journalist who has completed a journalism program with Elon University, SRL in Arizona and Communities of Hope at Roger Williams. Savanna is constantly looking to advance her knowledge of different forms of journalism. She enjoys working with people from all over the place. Savanna’s strengths lie in her ability to write, interview and interact with anyone and everyone. Her teacher Doreen Picozzi has been a major inspiration in her life and continues to help her with her work and push her to try new outlets of journalism. Savanna is looking forward to growing her knowledge in journalism and hopefully making it her career in the future.

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Julia

Wysokinska

Julia Wysokinska is a senior at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College in New York City. Her participation in the City Limits CLARIFY internship was her first foray into journalism. She joined the Hope Squad after attending the SPJ Northeast High School Summer Journalism Institute. She is a staff writer for her school newspaper, Common Sense. Julia is a member of the Teens for Press Freedom News Team, and she is a writer for the Bipartisan Feminist Project. In her spare time, Julia enjoys reading, meeting with friends over a cup of coffee, and working on her creative writing.

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Akasha

Jackson

Akasha Jackson is a senior at Manhattan Hunter Science High School and editor of the Manhattan Hunter Gatherers. She explores themes and covers pieces focusing on current events and science technology. Akasha joined Hope Squad in order to develop her journalism skills and to learn how to use journalism for positive community development and activism. In her free time, Akasha enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with family.

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Lauren

Faltas

Lauren Faltas is a senior at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey. She is currently the sports editor of her high school paper, The Patriot Press and also a staff writer for her local paper, TAPinto.net. Lauren loves to write and attended the Society of Professional Journalists High School Journalism Institute this summer to grow as a writer. In her free time, Lauren loves to bake, take pictures, spend time with friends and family, and read. During the school year, Lauren is the photo club president and has been since her junior year. She is involved in several other clubs and plays softball during the spring

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Sahat

sopirala

Sahat Sopirala is a senior in high school from Southlake, Texas. He is the editor of his school news website and is also a contributor to the yearbook and literary magazine. Interested in the humanities, politics, and science, he considers himself a well-rounded individual with an unbiased perspective. His hobbies include writing, watching movies, photography and reading. After graduating college, with his top school being the US Military Academy at West Point, he will serve as an Army Officer and possibly enter the field of law.

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Riya

Mahanta

Riya Mahanta is a rising junior at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Mass., where she is the managing editor of her school’s newspaper, The Harbinger. She enjoys journalism because she can write about things that interest her, as well as inform others about important things going on in the community. She also likes to spend time with friends and family, listen to music, and play tennis.

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Zahra

Choudry

Zahra Choudry is a senior at Walt Whitman High School on Long Island. She is interested in joining Communities of Hope to delve deeper into environmental journalism and propel solutions to the climate crisis, as well as contribute to democracy and sustainability through journalism.