I don’t usually reach out for help on a personal level on this site. I love apps, gadgets, and other random things which are usually what get posted. But since 2007, my wife, along with my college advisor, have co-directed a youth empowerment media-based program called H.Y.P.E (Healthy Youth Peer Education).1 It’s gone through many changes since the beginning, but the basic goal of the program is to give youth — particularly from the inner-city — a clear voice to shape their place and power in their community through documentary making. In short, it’s fantastic.
Here’s the problem; funding is hard and grassroots efforts work. Much like the successfully funded — and fantastic — App Camp for Girls, H.Y.P.E. needs help getting their latest project off the ground. Remember, this is a program in which teen voices and opinions are held in the highest regard. In their words, here’s what they’re fighting, and what their latest goal is:
The Problem: This year the school district in Allentown, Pennsylvania cut art class, gym class, and library instruction down to only nine hours per student for the entire year. Next year, the district proposes to eliminate all three classes entirely to help make up for the inadequate school budget. One-third of the teaching staff is about to be laid off. We understand that there is a crisis in educational funding in our state and the country overall, but without art there is little room for creativity at the school. Eliminating arts from the schools will directly impact nearly 18,000 students ages 5-18.
Our Solution: We will use our skills to create a feature length documentary about the importance of arts in the lives of children; the impact of eliminating art from the school curriculum; and examine the evidence from other communities about the benefits of investing in arts education for the individual and community at large. Our documentary will take one year to produce—six months to film and six months to edit.
If you’re so inclined, please consider donating toward the project. Like I said, I’m not one to ask for things, but H.Y.P.E. is something I believe in deeply, and on a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of the work they’ve done. Keep in mind, these are documentaries written, shot, and edited by high school teens that gain these skills during H.Y.P.E.’s 5 week run in the summer.2
Thanks for considering it!