Towson University receives New Voices grant for MD school information mapping Web site

Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) has been awarded a two-year grant from New Voices to create an online Maryland school information mapping site. CGIS will develop the site in partnership with Maryland Commons, an interactive online journal of news and commentary devoted to public policy in Maryland.

New Voices, a pioneering program that seeds innovative community news ventures, selected CGIS and seven other winners from 304 applicants nationwide. All of the 2009 grant winners will develop robust Web sites with frequently updated content focused on geographic communities.

“With all the anxiety about the future of journalism and news outlets, these projects are a breath of fresh air because of their creativity and commitment to serving communities,” Bruce Koon, New Voices advisory board member and news director of Northern California’s KQED radio, said.

Using new open-source GIS Web mapping tools, CGIS will combine Maryland Department of Education data with user-friendly geomapping tools to create a single interactive application that will provide immediate access to data and news about K-12 schools at the local, county and state levels. Users will be able to access school data via the map or by entering street addresses, and they will be able to submit comments. The Web site’s maps will complement news and commentary written by Maryland Commons staff. Parents, educators, policymakers and journalists will be the intended audience for the site.

More information can be obtained about the project by contacting Neil Didriksen, publisher, Maryland Commons, at 443-465-1342. For information about the grant program and project partners, visit, and  

Maryland Commons focuses on major issues and public policy questions that affect all Marylanders. The online journal is published weekly by Maryland New Media and includes original articles, interviews and analyses that provide Maryland residents with background information and insight into significant current events.

New Voices is administered by J-Lab at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C., and is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. J-Lab helps journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life with projects on innovations in journalism, citizen media, news games, interactive stories, entrepreneurship, research, training and publications.

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