PHILADELPHIA, PA – March 25, 2014 – (HISPANICIZE WIRE) – The AL DÍA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announced today a major restructuring of its VARELA Awards, which will place this well-known Foundation at the cutting-edge of promoting Multicultural Journalism in the United States, and therefore in a position to receive substantial funding for multiyear programs, vastly expanding an existing five-year-old project in this city.

The project has been nurturing young journalists in Multi-media and Multicultural Journalism, bringing together the best Journalism graduates from the University of Texas, El Paso Campus, and Temple University, from Philadelphia. These students have benefited from AL DÍA Foundation’s unique and proprietary “Master Practicum Model of Journalism FELIX VARELA,” a program created in memory of the founder of the first Spanish-language newspaper in the United States East Coast, Cuban priest Father Felix Varela y Morales, who published “EL HABANERO” in Philadelphia in 1824, today exactly 190 years ago.

Rather than offer cash prizes for outstanding work in Journalism on Latino issues, as it did for the past five years, and due to the obvious absence of content on Latino issues in U.S. media in general, the AL DIA Foundation has decided to take “a more proactive approach towards helping develop the new generation of young reporters that will be needed in newsrooms across America in the new Millennium,” said Hernán Guaracao-Calderón, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of the AL DIA Foundation.

“From its inception, the AL DÍA Foundation has helped young Journalism School graduates to acquire the skills and the confidence to perform in the rapidly changing landscape that our profession is fast traveling through.”

To start, in 2014 the Foundation will award at least two $25,000 Fellowships, for a total investment of $50,000 during the first year of the new phase of the VARELA Journalism Award. Until now the Foundation had designated four $10,000 prizes. It has delivered those four prizes, for a total investment of $40,000.

This year, 2014, in one year alone, the Foundation will award a minimum of $50,000.

The Foundation, led by Philadelphia journalist and news media entrepreneur Hernán Guaracao-Calderón, has made it a goal to raise funds for a total of $250,000 during the 2014-15 cycle.

This will provide an opportunity for 10 Journalism graduates to take the AL DIA Foundation’s ’s “VALERA Journalism Master Practicum”, in Philadelphia, the cradle of American Democracy and a Free Press.

Starting this year, the VARELA Awards will be offered in a competition among recent U.S. Journalism School graduates, from any J-School located in any of 50 States, who does articulate a compelling reasons for them to receive one-year fellowship for an AL DÍA Foundation’s “VALERA Journalism Master Practicum” in a multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual newsroom, in a hands-on setting.

Journalism graduates may apply for one-year paid fellowships awarded on the basis of a thorough essay application. The AL DÍA Foundation will provide the application at no cost. The Foundation will make the applications available online with a deadline for sending applications in of August 7 , 2014.

The prestigious VARELA Award Jurors & previous VARELA Award winners will judge the applications and select the winners. The Foundation will announce the names of the winners during the first week of October 2014.

This year, the results and awards will be announced in a special ceremony at National Constitution Center, a national landmark in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. The ceremony will feature a national News Media celebrity as a special guest who will personally hand the awards to the young winners of the 2014 edition.

Jorge Ramos, anchor of UNIVISION TV Network, and Senior Correspondent of FUSION, the new ABC/UNIVISION Cable Channel, is the first choice and he has already been invited in a letter sent to him several weeks ago by Hernán Guaracao-Calderón. A final confirmation is pending.

Winners will be presented during this event, which will be attended by special guests from all over the country, on November 13th, 2014. This national event will become part of the rich history of Philadelphia, the cradle of the American Democracy and the Free Press, not far from where Father Félix Varela single-handedly wrote and published his first newspaper in the US, in Spanish.

“From its inception, the AL DÍA Foundation has helped young Journalism School graduates to acquire the skills and the confidence to perform in the rapidly changing landscape that our profession is fast traveling through,” said today Hernán Guaracao-Calderón, speaking from his office in Philadelphia.

“Beyond the internships and fellowships from the past, the AL DÍA Foundation will further its mission in ways that no other organization—local or national, mainstream or Latino—is yet taking the time, or the funds, to do anywhere in the country,” Guaracao-Calderón said.

Albor Ruiz, Hall of Famer from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), said, “It is an honor to serve as a judge for the VARELA Awards since its inception; these awards are a unique hands-on opportunity for young journalists to develop their talents to succeed in the brave new world of multicultural newsrooms and multimedia journalism.”

“This bold move on the part of the AL DÍA Foundation will help increase the existing pipeline of well-prepared multimedia & multicultural journalists for jobs in English and Spanish news media in the U.S.,” said Journalism Professor Zita Arocha, director of borderzine.com at the Univesity of Texas at El Paso and another VARELA Judge.

The two other members of the Varela Awards Panel of Jurors are Emilio Sánchez, President & Editor-in-Chief of VOXXI.com, and former US Bureau Chief of EFE, and Linn Washington, Journalism professor of Temple University in Philadelphia.

The current President & CEO of the John J. & James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, FL, Mr. Alberto Ibargüen, was the honored guest of the first VARELA Awards six years ago when it was first held at Mitten Hall on Temple University’s Campus, with the support of the Dean of Communications at that time, Dr. Concetta Stewart, who also serves today as board member of the AL DIA Foundation.

The AL DÍA Foundation has awarded since 2008 the VARELA Awards, named after 19th century priest, and Philadelphia-based newspaper publisher and editor, Father Félix Varela y Morales, who published exactly 190 years ago in this city the first Spanish-language publication known in the East Coast: “El Habanero”.

The Philadelphia-based AL DIA Foundation is a non-profit organization associated with, but independent from the for profit corporation AL DIA Newspaper Inc, DBA as AL DÍA News Media, Philadelphia’s premiere Latino News Media organization for more than 20 years. AL DÍA News Media is a news organization that covers an array of topics ranging from Politics to Culture in both Spanish and English.

Guaracao-Calderón, the Founder of AL DIA News Media in 1991, also started the AL DIA Foundation 15 years later, in 2006.

He is a graduate of the School of Journalism at University of Iowa and was a Fulbright Scholar in the United States in 1988.

If you’d like more information about the VARELA Awards, the AL DÍA Foundation, or AL DÍA News Media, please visit http://www.felixvarelaaward.com or http://www.ALDIANews.com.

PHOTO CUTLINE: (l-r) Hernán Guaracao, Chairman of the AL DÍA Foundation, Matt O’Brien and Claudia Nuñez, winners of the VARELA Awards 2008, with Alberto Ibargüen, President of Knight Foundation and guest speaker at the ceremony. Additional photos and cutlines available in the Media Assets Zip file.