Youth Produce Radio, TV, and Video

Four youth media initiatives are encouraging young people to work with educators in their community to create compelling digital media content. Through the PBS Foundation and the Adobe Youth Voices Venture Fund, three PBS member stations - KCET in Los Angeles, WGBH in Boston, and WILL in Urbana, Ill. - and McNeil/Lehrer Productions, producers of the PBS program The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, received funding for projects that offer both educational value and youth engagement.

The funding is helping KCET increase efforts to engage young people in using multimedia and digital tools to build personal portraits of their home communities for the station's online cultural journalism initiative, titled Departures. A hyper-local online documentary series, Departures chronicles Los Angeles' neighborhoods one block at a time. The station's team of new media producers worked with students from Lincoln Heights to co-produce Departures: Los Angeles River ( - conducting interviews and producing videos of the River's advocates. Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice will design a digital portrait of Venice, California, for Departures: Venice, to premiere in September 2009. Departures: Monterey Park/Chengdu, debuting in November 2009, will be developed by Chinese American youth in the San Gabriel Valley and by adolescents in the Sichuan province of China.

With the venture fund grant, WGBH launched Opening the Door to Youth Voices, which provides opportunities for youth to create video shorts focusing on the global climate crisis, and to develop important communication and academic skills while becoming involved in their communities. Youth from around the country were encouraged to pitch and produce a trailer for an "open content-inspired" video short based on the themes presented in "Heat," a FRONTLINE documentary on climate change. Nine finalists were selected to receive a $2,000 production grant and editorial support from the Lab to create their video and debut it on the WGBH Lab Web site.

WILL's Youth Media Workshop builds positive connections between black youth and adults, particularly their teachers. Youth Media Workshop partners with public schools in the Champaign-Urbana, Ill. area to help young African-Americans develop radio and television documentaries that link their generation to the civil rights and black power generations. The funding is helping train additional teachers, transition students and teachers from audio to video production, and teach students Web development skills that they can later use to redesign the program Web site ( with new content and interactive features.

McNeil/Lehrer Productions used the funds to support, the.News nationwide competition that uses technology and video production to engage students in social studies, language arts and civic affairs. the.News is a noncommercial, multi-platform news broadcast for America's high school and middle school students. The competition was designed to encourage students in grades 6-12 to produce video news reports on how decisions made in Washington, D.C., affect their communities. Student winners' videos now appear on the.News Web site (

The PBS Foundation established the venture fund through a $1 million grant from the Adobe Foundation Fund to support projects that provide opportunities for young people to learn critical technology skills and create digital media with the support of local education communities.

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