Almost ten years ago, members of two local Leagues of Women Voters (LWV) were looking to engage young people, especially young people from underrepresented communities. With start-up grants, the LWVs established New Voices for Youth (NV4Y) -- an after-school program at Menlo-Atherton High School (M-A) that empowers young people to use film to tell their stories. The start-up grants were used up long ago and the ongoing grants and contributions have gotten smaller. New Voices will not continue at M-A in 2014 unless this campaign succeeds.
When you support NV4Y, you develop new storytellers and new stories. We don’t know who they are and what their stories will be, but we do know that silencing their voices won't help.
What happens at New Voices for Youth
Students meet weekly, after school, with our Project Directors, Tanuj Chopra and Ana Angel. First, they make short, profile pieces and, then, they brainstorm, interview, and story-board to create longer pieces. They record sound and edit with Final Cut Pro. Students work collaboratively sharing their talents and interests and, finally, they present their films at a public screening where they speak about their experience at NV4Y. Recent documentaries have focused on Teen Parenting, Cliques, and Diversity at M-A.
Why your support for after school programs is important:
Strong after-school programs extend education after the last school bell rings at 3:00 when students work with adults on creative, personal projects. Students in NV4Y tell us they’re more motivated to work hard in academic subjects. Historically, students from underrepresented communities have had high drop-out rates but our students graduate, go to college and will become future leaders in their communities. Participation in NV4Y fosters civic engagement.
Public funds for after-school programming have evaporated in the last 10 years. Over the last 4 years at M-A, we've seen too many positive, popular after-school programs for youth vanish due to a lack of financial support.
We don't want to be the next.
Luckily there's an option today that serves as a model: crowd sourcing. As a community of parents and residents, we can all contribute online and aggregate the funds needed to keep NV4Y alive in 2014.
About our youth facilitators
Tanuj Chopra holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA in Film Direction from Columbia University. He's helped youth make films in New York, Washington and California. His own independent film Punching at the Sun debuted at the Tribeca and at Sundance film festivals. Right now, he commutes from Palo Alto to LA to direct and produce several projects including the web series, Nice Girls Crew (http://chopsfilms.com/)
Ana Angel, also local, grew up in San Mateo and got hooked on film-making and media arts while in college. She has a Masters in Mexican American Studies from San Jose State and a BA in Ethnic Studies from Cal State East Bay. Ana has over 8 years of experience coordinating youth leadership programs and facilitating filmmaking and digital media projects. Ana’s other projects include working as a Service Coordinator for the Palo Alto Housing Corporation where she runs a digital arts program for low-income teens.
In addition to the M-A program, Tanuj and Ana created a NV4Y program at the Siena Youth Center, part of the St Francis Center in the North Fair Oaks community of Redwood City.
What they say about us
NV students, surveyed after they participated, wrote,
“ I feel like I helped the community by putting an issue out there and actually spending time on this particular issue to bring awareness to the community itself.”
“It opened up thoughts and questions about society in general.”
"I really loved being a part of this program and I am more than thankful to have met all the wonderful students and mentors."
"I feel like video can touch more people than I thought."
M-A Student Support Coordinator, Miki Cristerna, says,
“New Voices provides both technical and inspirational guidance to students looking for an avenue to explore local, national and worldwide social issues. By engaging youth in socially conscious multi-media projects, they are given an opportunity to have their voices heard in a multitude of platforms. Menlo-Atherton High School is incredibly fortunate to have the local Leagues of Women Voters and New Voices for Youth as community partners on our campus.”
Where do your donations go?
The lessons our students learn in film production are lessons that translate to all areas of their lives. In a time when many young people are distracted and disenfranchised, NV4Y gives them a space to create media with a message, to tell their stories to anyone who will listen.
When students post their films online, the community (and the world) can engage with their work. Anyone can watch that work online for free! The NV4Y documentaries about teen pregnancy are candid about what it’s like to be a teen mother and they generated feedback: Did they consider options? What about the young fathers?
Other Ways You Can Contribute
If you're unable to contribute financially but want to support our mission, please spread the word about our campaign. Tell your friends about our effort to train young filmmakers.
Donations and Perks
Donations of ANY size are welcome! Every dollar helps us reach our goal.
Perks are listed on the side but you don't have to pick a perk! We would like to include the names of all contributors on the Wall of Thanks at www.newvoicesforyouth.org