Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation Awards Philadelphia OIC Workforce Academy $50,000 to Support Digital Media Production Program

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Philadelphia OIC enjoys a longstanding partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation aimed at tackling the digital divide in Philadelphia by teaching digital literacy skills and exposing residents to digital resources. In this spirit, Comcast recently committed to a second-year investment of $50,000 to support the Philadelphia OIC Workforce Academy (OICWA) Digital Media Program.

In April 2018, OICWA launched a Digital Filmmaking Program in partnership with Big Picture Alliance, an apprentice program created to engage, educate and empower youth through project-based hands on learning. The program develops digital media literacy skills including screenwriting, video, audio and editing and expanding their learning skills in creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Throughout the process, students gain “real-world” experience, including presenting their work to industry professionals at film and television studios and hosting public screenings and broadcasts.

To date, 20 OICWA students participated in over 100 hours of digital media instruction, resulting in improved academic performance and engagement and four paid summer internships. This grant will expose 130 students to digital literacy workshops where they will be introduced to digital media concepts, skills and career pathways. Additionally, proceeds from the grant will create a new digital media lab where students will gain hands-on-training with industry standard video production equipment and Adobe editing software.

“Comcast is proud to continue supporting Philadelphia OIC’s efforts to provide Philadelphians with the skills they need to be successful in today’s digital economy,” said Robert F. Smith, Regional Vice President of Community Impact, Comcast. “Our longstanding partnership in the areas of workforce development and digital literacy and inclusion has helped connect underserved communities to the crucial technology and training needed to make real progress in reducing the digital divide.”

Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation seeks to invest in and provide charitable support to nonprofit organizations and programs intended to have a positive, sustainable impact on the communities it serves; programs that align with the Foundation’s mission to empower communities to thrive by helping to provide access to technology, relevant digital skills and training, and inspiring volunteerism and service.

“Comcast is always at the table when we are discussing strategies to arm our youth and young adults with the digital literacy skills that they need to be successful in life,” said Aisha Dennis, M.Ed., Executive Director of Philadelphia OIC Workforce Academy and Vice President of Education, Philadelphia OIC. “We benchmarked our students’ performance before their engagement in the Digital Filmmaking program and post, and they’ve all made substantial measurable gains in their 21st-century skills development – and Comcast’s investment in this program made it all possible.”

“The transformation we have seen in our OIC Workforce Academy students is a testament to the kind of project-based, hands-on, and applied learning that digital media arts provide,” said Aleks Martray, Executive Director, Big Picture Alliance. “Not only have students shown improvements in their academics and engagement, but they’ve developed key creative and technical skills needed to navigate the field of film and media. Comcast’s investment has been essential to achieving this impact.”

In October 2018, the students presented their films to an audience of 100 people at the Prince Theater.  OICWA students are currently working on a documentary about the history and future of OIC, told through the students’ and staff’s perspectives.

“A Little Love” is a short documentary that explores how Philadelphia OIC Workforce Academy students carry on the legacy of civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, who founded Opportunities Industrialization Center in 1964. This project trains and exercises students’ research and interview skills as they interview staff and community elders and explore connections between this historical legacy and their aspirations for the future. The film will be completed in May 2019 followed by a public screening.

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