The Star Tribune Media Co. is expanding its News in Education program through a partnership with Google.

Supported through the Google News Initiative, the 18-month program will study news consumption among younger audiences, design youth-oriented digital news products and increase classroom engagement. The aim is to modernize the News in Education program, which provides curriculum and access to Star Tribune products to more than 300 middle and high schools.

"Our industry recognizes that today's students are going to participate in a fully digital information marketplace," said Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer for the Star Tribune. "In an era where 'fake news' has dominated too much of the public conversation, this initiative underscores the importance of news literacy among young and diverse audiences in ways that more directly respond to their needs and preferences."

As part of the partnership, the Star Tribune will create a fellowship for an education audience specialist. Field research with educators and students will begin immediately. New digital products will be tested starting in 2020. Google and the Star Tribune plan to share what they have learned so other communities also can develop youth education programs and products.

The Google News Initiative partners with organizations to fund projects that help journalism evolve digitally and support quality journalism work. It also has a fact-checking initiative and works to help stem the spread of misinformation globally.

"Attracting and retaining engaged consumers is the key to sustainable local journalism," said Jason Washing, managing director of news partnerships at Google. "That's vital to the civic health of every community."