Program Coordinator, THE REAL CHI

Job Type

Full Time


Minimum: $38,000
Maximum: $48,000




906 South Homan Avenue
United States


Free Spirit Media

Job Title: Program Coordinator, THE REAL CHI

Reports To: Civic Media Manager

Supervises: THE REAL CHI Production Coordinator and Managing Editor


The Program Coordinator for THE REAL CHI is a dynamic staff person who is the lead administrator and manager of a newsroom producing a weekly digital news site, THE REAL CHI: Community News from Free Spirit Media. Serving emerging journalists, age 18-24, the Program Coordinator is responsible for the overall news content and educational value of the newsroom and is dedicated to clearly setting and communicating editorial strategies, goals, curriculum and assessments.

The Program Coordinator for THE REAL CHI is also the manager of the Free Spirit Media Open Lab. The Open Lab space exists to provide access to cutting edge technology software and equipment. Through Open Lab, the program coordinator is responsible for coordinating FSM’s Semi-Pro special project initiatives and filtering opportunities to qualified Open Lab participants who engage in freelance work. The Program Coordinator also supports participants who engage in producing independent work in this space.

The Program Coordinator has deep roots in community journalism with strong ties to specific coverage areas. THE REAL CHI aims to produce in-depth, solutions-oriented community journalism dedicated to covering black and brown communities on the South and West Side of Chicago, centered in the North Lawndale community and including Austin, Garfield Park and Little Village.

The Program Coordinator leads the editorial team in developing beat coverage strategies to find and produce hyper- local, relevant news stories, breaking news stories, human-interest features and investigative journalism pieces in the print/web, audio and video mediums. The news crews create media using DSLR camera packages and Final Cut Pro editing software.

The Program Coordinator for THE REAL CHI demonstrates strength in youth advocacy and workforce development. The Program Coordinator will be responsible for building pathways for emerging journalists from Free Spirit Media’s beginner-level programs and the larger community into THE REAL CHI’s newsroom and potentially on to jobs in the media industry. Additionally, the Program Coordinator is able to spark creativity, confidence and leadership through journalism and video production.

The Program Coordinator is astute at networking and is able to maintain and build partnerships that expand FSM’s journalism portfolio. The Program Coordinator is a team player who can maintain focus, perspective, attitude and attention to detail in a fast-paced, creative and young adult driven environment.

Program Responsibilities:

▪      Develop and design media production programming, including writing curriculum and lesson plans, as well as teaching and instructing young adult participants video production and supporting new media educational curriculum trends

▪      Prepare and implement daily lessons, including lessons on news writing, reporting, camera operations, editing and producing

▪      Provide expert knowledge and skills to a team of beat editors to ensure that content is understood and facts, dates and statistics mentioned are correct

▪      Support the Production Coordinator in managing technical aspects of the newsroom, including care, set-up/tear down, management of camera and editing equipment

▪      Support the Production Coordinator in managing the production aspects of the news room, including teaching hands on video production and photography skills and building social media campaigns

▪      Manage time within the newsroom and ensure that quality content is produced, tracked and distributed consistently and under deadlines

▪      Manage and develop production and distribution partnerships for FSM’s journalism portfolio

▪      Create and maintain youth development environment where participants receive academic, artistic, social and emotional support

▪      Manage recruitment and retention of all participants

▪      Collaborate with FSM’s Industry Pathways manager to support pathways for young adult participants

▪      Manage the organization’s Open Lab by coordinating Semi-Pro special projective initiatives and providing a supportive space for participants to produce independent work

▪      Ability to utilize social media (twitter, Facebook, instagram, etc.) to support the Development and Communications team

▪      Build community and industry partnerships and engage professional journalists and media makers as guest speakers, mentors, and strategic partners

▪      Other programmatic duties as assigned

Administrative Responsibilities:

▪      Coordinate Department of Family and Support Services and HIVE Connected Learning partnerships

▪      Supervise, coach and support the Production Coordinator and Managing Editor

▪      Manage participant attendance, paperwork and pay

▪      Coordinate and cultivate relationships with local media professionals to serve as guest speakers and field trip hosts

▪      Work collaboratively with site administration and other service providers to ensure quality program delivery

▪      Participate in FSM meetings and professional development trainings

▪      Support FSM reporting and evaluation efforts

▪      Other administrative duties as assigned

Qualifications, Education and/or Experience:

▪      Experience in community and/or professional journalism

▪      Demonstrate experience working with high school aged youth and college students in education, after school, or youth development settings

▪      Demonstrate experience in production of video, film, or journalism, as well as post-production tools

▪      Experience in partnership development

▪      Experience working with youth representing diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages, and abilities

▪      Experience or interest in designing and developing project-based programming with youth

▪      Ability to use and teach how to operate DSLR and external microphones

▪      Ability to use effective and persuasive speech and writing in instruction, presentations, meetings, and site visits

▪      Experience or interest in developing innovative ways to incorporate social media into curriculum

▪      Bachelor's degree (BA) or greater from a four-year college or university- focus in journalism preferred

Work Requirements:

This is a full-time position, based out of the Nichols Tower in Homan Square/North Lawndale. Hours may exceed 40 hours a week. Occasional evening and weekend hours required. Regular access to a car is required.


Compensation & Benefits:

Salary: Competitive and commensurate with experience; range $38,000-$48,000.

Benefits: Competitive package including healthcare, dental, and vision; IRA match after 1 year.

Paid Time Off: 18 Paid Time Off days accrued during first year in addition to 16 paid holidays.

Professional Development: Funds available to support staff in achieving skill objectives.

Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply


To Apply:

Please e-mail resume and cover letter to with subject line: The Real Chi Program Coordinator - {Your Name}.

Free Spirit Media is an equal opportunity employer committed to fostering a diverse and equitable environment in which all staff can excel regardless of race, ethnicity, age, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability. People of color, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans are encouraged to apply.

About Free Spirit Media:

The mission of Free Spirit Media is to cultivate diverse youth voices to transform media and society. Free Spirit Media provides youth on Chicago’s South and West sides with a comprehensive foundation in media literacy and a hands-on media production experience through a youth development lens. We employ a holistic program model to develop youth into productive, connected, and engaged adults. Since our founding in 2001, Free Spirit Media has empowered more than 5,500 youth to share their stories, discover their potential, and engage their peers and communities through digital media. Free Spirit Media’s programming includes school-based media arts education, after school digital media programs, and advanced pathways programs that connect participants with opportunities in professional media industries. Participants at all ages and levels of our programming are supported in developing 21st Century skills that prepare them for success in college and careers. Please see for more information.