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Some high school student filmmakers will have their work shown nationwide, thanks to The Roku Channel.
Last spring, the company partnered with youth organization Fresh Films for the Roku Change Makers Program, which trained more than 250 high schoolers from 23 cities nationwide in filmmaking, with career mentorship from Roku employees. Under the leadership of Roku’s Mitch Rogers and Leslie Lai, participants had the opportunity to create short films featuring a social subject close to their hearts and how progress is being made in their communities and now, select projects will premiere as Roku Originals on the company’s streaming channel.
“Watching our inaugural class of Roku Change Makers grow into confident storytellers has been a profound experience. We’re proud to have cultivated an environment that empowered a diverse group of young people from across the country to courageously share their stories,” Roku head of alternative originals Brian Tannenbaum said in a statement. “When we created this program with Fresh Films, it was of the utmost importance for us to not only mentor and teach students, but also to amplify their voices by putting their work in front of actual audiences.”
The seven-week program took place last year from March 10 to April 21, and the second cohort will begin its training on March 9.
“Fresh Films was started to fill a void in the entertainment industry where diversity is an issue,” Fresh Films founder and managing director Kelli Feigley said in a statement. “Through the Roku Change Makers program, Roku and Fresh Films have turned DEI words into action. By offering expertise and industry experiences, as well as distribution on a major streaming platform, this program has further supported the diversification of the entertainment industry. Talent is everywhere, and youth just need an opportunity like this to open the many career possibilities in their futures.”
The first batch of Roku Change Makers Program projects include:
Atlanta: Photography teacher Kevin Parker discusses the lessons he teaches to his students and the art he shares with the world.
Chicago: High school senior Korey Ziemkowski tells the story of how she founded a nonprofit that builds food pantries and works to improve people’s lives.
Detroit: Angela Reyes talks about how the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation helps to uplift teens from difficult and dangerous circumstances into bright futures.
Iowa: Farmer Brandon Reis tells how he took steps to improve the health of his farmland and how he helps other farmers to do the same.
Los Angeles: Karla Sanchez shares how her job as a Collegebound Coordinator enables her to help high schoolers find their ideal education and career paths.
Phoenix: Musician and hip-hop dancer Dezzy Yates shares how he came to use his passion to help himself and others heal from difficult pasts.
Pittsburgh: Dr. Terrie Suica-Reed, founder of the Phase 4 Learning Center, shares how her school has helped students learn, work and make connections to succeed both before and after graduation.
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Writers Guild of America