Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by BVN

S. E. Williams |

Report for America  held its second annual “Local News Awards” ceremony at Loyola University Chicago, June 10 where it presented awards to journalists in a dozen categories. 

The ceremony was the finale event at the national service program’s “National Gathering 2022” which brought together hundreds of Report for America corps members from across the country for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the evening’s top winners was Black Voice News Reporter Breanna Reeves, who was not only awarded First Place for Service Project of the Year, she also received a second place honor in the category of Community Leadership Writing for her report, “Government Working to Improve Equity in Distribution and Use of COVID-19 Treatment Options”

Breanna Reeves, Black Voice News, receives the Service Project of the Year Award from Steven Waldman, president and cofounder of Report for America. (Photo by Michael Karam, The GroundTruth Project).

Reeves received the Service Project of the Year Award for her work with the Society of Extraordinary Women’s (SOEW) Ignite Leadership and STEM Academy’s GIS and Journalism Program. 

Describing Breanna’s leadership in relation to the program SOEW President/CEO and Founder of the Ignite Academy Shirley Coates shared how under Reeves guidance, students participating in the program, “Created in-depth news stories on various subjects including climate change and the effects on the inland region, and social justice.”

As part of the program students conducted interviews and included data they collected using GIS technology to support their stories. “We were very fortunate to have Breanna as our guest instructor,” praised Coates. 

As heralded by Report for America, other first-place winners included  Samantha Hogan, The Maine Monitor, for Investigative Writing; Kayla Canne, Asbury Park Press, for Enterprise Writing; Julia Shanahan, Rappahannock News & Foothills Forum, for Breaking News Writing; Maria Sestito, The Desert Sun, for Community Leadership Writing; Phoebe Petrovic, Wisconsin Public Radio/Wisconsin Watch, for Audio; Madeleine Cook, Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer, for Video; Jackie Botts, CalMatters, for Dispatch; and Breanna Reeves, Black Voice News, for Service Project of the Year.

Report for America regional manager, Jason Blakeney who coordinated this year’s awards, explained how the selection process worked noting that entries were judged through an anonymous document that displayed only the journalist’s words or visuals. There were  no designs, no links to other work, no identification of the newsroom. According to Blakeney, this put newsrooms, regardless of size, on a level playing field. He added how it is always difficult to select winners when so many worthy entries are submitted, but the quality of those recognized truly represents the standard of journalism for this corps,” he said. “I was so impressed combing through the work and blown away by the impact these journalists are having on their communities.”

Follow this link to view a full list of 2022 RFA award winners.

Shirley Coates President/CEO of the Society of Extraordinary Women and Founder of the Ignite Leadership and STEM Academy’s GIS and Journalism Program.

Reeves has set a high bar for herself in the coming year. “We are looking forward to [Breanna] joining us during our fall session which begins the first Saturday in October,” shared Coates.

Follow this link to learn more about SOEW and the Ignite Leadership and STEM Academy’s GIS and Journalism program.

Report for AmericaReport for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities across all 50 states. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephanie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at