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Endowment established for WUWM's Eric Von Broadcast Fellowship

two women speaking
Ann-Elise Henzl
WUWM Advisory Board member Faithe Colas and WUWM Race and Ethnicity Reporter Teran Powell speaking at an event in 2023.

Helen Ambuel has long believed that people need to hear voices like theirs on public radio and that public radio journalists need to represent the communities they serve.

And so, Helen, a member of WUWM’s Advisory Board since 2015, decided to do something to help make her belief a reality.

WUWM Advisory Board member Helen Ambuel.
Courtesy of Helen Ambuel
WUWM Advisory Board member Helen Ambuel.

She established an endowment, the Eric Von Broadcast Fellowship Fund, at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with a gift of $100,000 from the Henry and Emily Baldwin Donor Advised Fund.

“I’ve seen how the Von Fellowship has helped young journalists learn the ropes of broadcasting, find their voices, and launch their careers. My gift affirms my support for the fellowship and WUWM’s community service mission," she says.

The Eric Von Broadcast Fellowship, established in 2017, honors the late Eric Von. Eric was a 25-year veteran of the radio industry. Just prior to his death on September 8, 2016, Eric worked with WUWM on the Precious Lives project, a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and youth in the Milwaukee area.

Now in its sixth year, the Von Fellowship carries on Eric’s legacy and fosters diversity and inclusion within the media landscape by providing a year-long, paid fellowship to a recent college graduate new to the journalism profession. An emphasis is placed on recruiting candidates from marginalized groups typically underrepresented in broadcasting.

Faithe Colas, Eric’s widow and also a member of WUWM’s Advisory Board, is more than grateful for Helen’s gift. “I have dreamed of endowing the fellowship as a way to create an enduring opportunity for young journalists of color. Helen’s vision and generosity has created a connection, not only between the two of us, but between Helen and Eric’s legacy and each Von Fellow who takes their experience out into the world to create more diversity and representation in the journalism profession. My hope now is that we can grow the endowment so that it will fully fund the Von Fellowship.”

The endowment is a fund that is invested to provide long-term support for the Eric Von Fellowship in perpetuity. A portion of the fund is made available to support the fellowship annually, while the remaining assets are retained in the fund to provide for growth over time.

WUWM’s first Von Fellow, Teran Powell, launched her post-fellowship career as WUWM’s race and ethnicity reporter. Now, in addition to reporting, Teran mentors the Von Fellows. Together with WUWM’s news director, Teran has developed a curriculum to assure that the fellowship is an intentional and comprehensive experience for each Von Fellow and provides the essential foundational skills demanded by employers to break into the industry.

Helen’s belief. Eric’s legacy. Faithe’s dream. Woven together, they create a powerful pathway for young journalists to build the necessary skills, connections,and confidence to bring all voices to the table and demand full representation in the world of journalism.

Learn more about WUWM's past and present Eric Von fellows and how you can support the Eric Von Broadcast Fellowship by visiting WUWM.com/ericvon or calling WUWM's Susan Koppa McClurg at 414-270-1122.