The E. M. Kennedy Investigative Reporting, IR, Scholarship.
Named in honor of Eleanor Mary Kennedy, 1933-2001. Awarded periodically by the Publishers of the Montclair Dispatch. Any student who has written for the Montclair Dispatch and who has reported on any issue which required skills in the Investigative Reporting arena is eligible for the award. The Award is to be used for summer attendance at any institution that supports investigative Reporting skills development. The award is a cash award from between $500 and $1,000.00 USD. It is our hope, our goal, that you will use your skills for the greater good and to pay it forward in due time.
Eleanor Mary Kennedy, 1933 – 2001 was a tireless advocate and staunch defender of the common rights of citizens across the United States. Mrs. Kennedy fought for and ultimately secured the first government transparency and access laws, The Open Public Meetings Act in New Jersey in 1975. Spending a night in jail for civil disobedience, later dropped, earned her accolades from her local chapter of the League of Women Voters in Montville, NJ. For years thereafter, she and her League would attend every municipal meeting and took copious notes, earning her the disdain of the elected officials. A solid intellectual she was a graduate of Fontbonne University ’56 in MO with a BA in English, A teaching certificate from NJ ’72 and an AS degree in Computer Science from Saint Petersburg College ’76 in FL. She was a lifelong reader, she read three papers each day; the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times. She saw all four of her adult children off to college. As the Chair of her Board at the League of Woman Voters in Montville she also served as the organizer of outings and protest across the New York area and Washington DC.
While Mrs. Kennedy was not a journalist, her reporting appeared in many local and national papers. She was always eager for others to understand what was really going on, how they could help, and why it was important for the populace to get involved. Mrs. Kennedy used many skills to uncover the facts and extract the documents from the government. Reading through reams of data to ferret out the hidden workings of government entities and elected officials. All of these skills and more are considered Investigative Reporting, IR, today. She was particularly skilled at confronting power and privilege on their own ground, never wavering or retreating even when faced with SLAPP lawsuits. She was eager to pass on those skills and even more so to see them deployed for the greater good.
Political activism, environmental activism, government reform, social justice, voting rights and civil rights were just some of the levels she fought on. She fought against the Vietnam War, for health care, Medicare and literacy access for all. Against nuclear waste disposal in Florida and against wetland developers in New Jersey. She helped pass fair housing laws in NJ in the 1980’s.
In Florida in the late 1980’s she marshaled local and national support, raised funds and worked with local officials to secure and protect the Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Islands from future development and ensured they would stay that way by securing them into the state park system.
Her final project in the 1990’s was as an employee of the County Wide Literacy Coalition, wherein for four years she created a program to teach adult volunteers who then went on to teach in the many independent literacy programs around Pinellas County in Florida.