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Digital Media Academy Promises and Delivers for D.C. Students

Lights. Camera. Action! The sights and sounds of summer learning in the Hollywood, right? No, right here in Washington, D.C. if you were one of 15 Kenilworth Parkside youth who participated in the Digital Media Academy (DMA) sponsored by the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) this past summer.

Students in the program share their "Daily Downloads," in which they upload media assets they produced to their digital portfolios and journalize about their learning experiences. (Photo courtesy of DCPNI)

Students in the program share their “Daily Downloads,” in which they upload media assets they produced to their digital portfolios and journalize about their learning experiences. (Photo courtesy of DCPNI)

With the help of an OII Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grant awarded to DCPNI in 2012, DMA gave students in this Northeast D.C. community an extraordinary opportunity to learn from top media artists, journalists, web designers, and other professionals representing more than 23 media-related organizations, a number of which offered internships behind the camera or microphone. The students shadowed Media Mentors who showed them the ropes at such nationally known media enterprises as Google, Black Entertainment Television, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and XM Satellite Radio.

Weekly workshops and coursework provided insights into college and career possibilities in a wide range of fields from media marketing and advertising to PR and journalism to information literacy and digital citizenship. And on Fridays, the students experienced firsthand what classes are like at the Corcoran College of Art & Design or how the Newseum preserves America’s past through its news makers and journalists, as well as other city venues in which the media arts play a significant role in serving the community and its culture.

This immersion experience in the media arts was coupled with service learning as the students produced public service announcements (PSAs) focused on teen pregnancy prevention. They were aired on local ABC and CBS broadcast networks as the youth and DCPNI Executive Director Ayris Scales were interviewed about the program. The students’ Digital Portfolios, showcasing their PSAs, were premiered at an August event at DC’s popular venue, Bus Boys and Poets (named after Langston Hughes), that included DCPNI Honorary Chair Alma Powell.

Students in the Digital Media Academy were honored at a premiere of their PSAs in August by DCPNI Executive Director Ayris Scales and Honorary Chair Alma Powell. (Photo courtesy of DCPNI)

Students in the Digital Media Academy were honored at a premiere of their PSAs in August by DCPNI Executive Director Ayris Scales and Honorary Chair Alma Powell. (Photo courtesy of DCPNI)

Later this month, you’ll hear from students involved in the DMA, sharing personal reflections on what they learned and how it can put them on the path to future success, whether in digital media technologies or in other career pursuits for which the DCPNI summer learning opportunity opened their minds, sparked their creativity, and stimulated their thinking about social issues important to them as well as to their community and nation.