The Blackhouse Foundation Teams With Strayer University for Criminal Justice Screenwriting Contest

Strayer Studios - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Strayer Studios

The winner of ScriptED will be announced at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.

The Blackhouse Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for black content creators, has teamed up with Strayer University for a new screenwriting competition focused on criminal justice.

Intended as an educational component in the for-profit school's Ethics in Criminal Justice course, ScriptED is looking for pitches and sample scripts for a 10-episode series that illustrates specific topics in the curriculum, such as discrimination, corruption, racial profiling and use of excessive force. The contest is open to U.S. residents over 21 who have not yet earned more than $60,000 in a single year for screenwriting or directing.

Strayer has more than 50,000 students, most of whom take their classes online. In 2016, the school launched Strayer Studios to create multimedia content that would make their curriculum more engaging.

More than 60 percent of Strayer's online students are African American, and criminal justice is one of the school's most popular degree programs, Strayer Studios spokesperson Elaine Kincel tells The Hollywood Reporter. Having already worked with Emmy-winning producers to create nonfiction content, the school approached Blackhouse to explore making scripted narrative content for the first time.

"We were excited about being on the forefront of education for folks for whom it makes a critical difference," Blackhouse Foundation chair Brickson Diamond tells THR. "Beyond that, [the partnership] also is a platform opportunity for creators."

Submissions can be made at the ScriptED website and are due by Dec. 21. They will be evaluated by a five-judge panel that includes former Newark Municipal Court Chief Judge Victoria Pratt as well as producer Aaliyah Williams, an executive producer on Netflix's upcoming Gentefied.

The top five finalists will pitch their scripts next month at the Sundance Film Festival, where the winner will be chosen and announced. Strayer is also sponsoring a panel at Sundance, moderated by Diamond, on "The Power of Storytelling in Education."

The winner of ScriptED will receive $10,000 and a six-month virtual artist-in-residency at Strayer, working with Strayer Studios to develop his or her pitch into a series to be screened in the Ethics in Criminal Justice course each week.