As the director of community relations at the Newbury Film Series (NFS), I co-founded ReelVision, a youth filmmaking project for teens labeled at-risk in Boston. It was like starting my own company — I put my heart and soul into this community project. I created a partnership with the Art Institute of Boston (AIB), a prestigious art school next to Fenway Park. Through this partnership, ReelVision students earned pre-college credits while making their own films from start to finish which was huge for them. Reel Vision students were the first in their generation to step onto a college campus — imagine that. They made films that addressed their lives and concerns on topics like racism, violence, smoking, drugs, gangs, and privacy rights. Their films impacted thousands of community members and were distributed to national youth film festivals, local community access stations, and television channels.
To help pay for the program, I cowrote a grant and was awarded $5,000 from the Foley Hoag Foundation. This grant felt like $5 million to me, because it was going to get ReelVision off the ground. And it did. With our advisory board, we raised the additional funding for all Reel Vision students to attend for free.