Teach For America (TFA) announced the winners of its annual Social Innovation Award, including education advocate-turned-filmmaker Kelly Amis, who was one of the first 500 college graduates to be accepted into this national teacher recruitment program.
Amis will receive a $50,000 grant from TFA’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative to support TEACHED, an innovative series of short films documenting the causes and consequences of education inequality in America, particularly as experienced by urban students of color.
Based on Amis’s twenty years of teaching, research and advocacy in K-12 education, TEACHED is intended to provoke thoughtful discussion on challenging issues, remind viewers of the civil rights struggle behind many of today’s education battles and motivate more people to engage in urban education reform. Amis explains, “The short film format is designed to be more conducive to interactive screenings–the films can be easily interspersed with guest speakers and heightened audience participation–and also intended to reach a larger, more diverse audience through online streaming and social media.”
The first three TEACHED short films, collectively titled “TEACHED Vol. I,” premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November 2011 and have since won “Outstanding Achievement for Short Documentary” at the Williamsburg International Film Festival and the jury prize for “Spirit of Independence” at the Amsterdam Film Festival. They are currently available for online viewing via SnagFilms and for community-organized screenings.
Teach for America received 87 applications for two tracks within the Social Innovation Award: an Overall Track for alumni entrepreneurs like Amis who have already tested their idea and a Pre-Pilot Track for those who are in the early planning and development stage. The awards were made possible with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, and Joyce and Larry Stupski. Full results for this year’s awards are available at http://www.tfasocialinnovationaward.com/2013-award-winners.html.
TEACHED is a non-profit film project fiscally-sponsored by the International Documentary Association. TEACHED Vol. II and Two Boys, a feature-length documentary being filmed in Washington, DC, are currently under production.
Synopses of the TEACHED Vol. I films:
The Path to Prison (7 min.)
A former gang-member from South Central, Los Angeles helps explain how so many capable and intelligent young men-especially African-American males-end up uneducated and incarcerated in the ‘land of the free.’
The Blame Game: Teachers Speak Out (16 min.)
Public school teachers speak candidly about their profession and the consequences for students-especially urban minority students-of policies that treat all teachers as equal and make it difficult to fire a teacher even in the most extreme circumstances.
Unchartered Territory (17 min.)
Featuring some of the most successful pioneers of this still-developing frontier, Unchartered Territory explains what charter schools are, why they were created and why some are performing so well and others…not so much.