An Atlanta startup non-profit which teaches teenagers digital media and film skills has launched an Alliance, with the help of several digital media giants and other companies, to grow the talent pipeline in these industries. The re:imagine/ATL Alliance aims to fill the 1.2 million jobs nationwide in film, music, broadcast and digital media with diverse, representative talent.
Alliance partners include the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which committed to leading a three-year $285,000 investment, as well as Turner, MailChimp, Spanx, Pinewood Studios, AT&T, and a number of other companies ranging from small to large.
In total these partners have already committed over $450,000, along with pledges to provide education, equipment and resources, training and job shadowing, and internship roles to the students that re:imagine/ATL caters towards.
“Corporate investment in our future workforce is absolutely critical,” said Betsy Holland, Turner’s Director of Culture & Engagement, in a statement. “Engaging directly with young creatives, and preparing them with the necessary skills, will ensure relevancy and authenticity for Turner.”
In its four years since inception, re:imagine/ATL has served 700 teens from over 30 schools in metro Atlanta. They reach students directly in schools, through after-school programs and camps, and in workshops.
Founder and Executive Director Susanna Spiccia initially started the non-profit to connect young people by finding common ground in storytelling.
“Everyone has a story. At the time I did not have the ability to teach the production skills we were sharing with students, so I became dependent on professionals in the industry to help instruct,” she shares. “This network of professional storytellers has tremendously grown amongst the freelance community and the companies themselves.”
“At the same time, we have talented young creators graduating high school and our programs, many of them are not going to college, and their next steps are not always clear,” Spiccia says. In 2016, she joined the inaugural Center for Civic Innovation Civic Innovation Fellowship for social entrepreneurs, and has continued to grow the organization’s offerings to meet the needs of students across the board.
Spiccia explains that the Alliance is the result of several months’ study and strategy-building to find a way to continue to connect students to job opportunities while in school, as well as provide touch points after graduation.
“If companies meet these creative minds when they are young, they will spend less energy recruiting, build more company loyalty, and tap into an innovative workforce representing more of the people these companies are trying to reach.”
Atlanta is a fertile ground for such an effort. Thanks to the generous film, video, and digital entertainment tax incentives passed over the last few years, the state is an undisputed entertainment hotspot. Georgia surpassed California to become the number one location for feature films; the eSports and gaming industries are also buzzing.
“As far as I know, no industry in a city has done something like this,” says Spiccia. “We are also collecting data on the schools, students, and partners, to better build out an economic case for our city and state.”
Spiccia and the current Alliance partners are calling for other organizations to join them. re:imagine/ATL’s operating budget to serve its goal number of students is projected at $1.2 million over the next three years, a figure Spiccia hopes to reach through the Alliance.
“The goal is to move away from traditional grants, and attract more film, media, music, marketing, and advertising company dollars to invest in our youth through the re:imagine/ATL Alliance,” she says.
Photos provided by re:imagine/ATL