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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Program Offers Free Classes in Photography, Filmmaking and More to Underserved Youth

B-Roll Arts & Media, based in Laurel, Maryland, helps teens learn to love learning

Teens learning photography at B-Roll Media and Arts in Maryland

Washington, DC — When high school students Chinarose Riley and Monchelle (Momo) Gray stepped out of the box of traditional education and signed up for free classes with B-Roll Arts & Media, Inc., a non-traditional, non-profit training program, they both fell in love with learning.

“Thanks to B-Roll I found my passion in videography and filmmaking,” said Riley. “I learned to expand my creativity and how to use the tools that are available to make a statement with art. Hands-on learning experience is what I needed. It was like falling in love.”

Gray agrees. “I’m not good with words and I’m not comfortable in static classroom spaces,” she said. “Photography is my medium. My pictures help me say who I am. B-Roll has helped me hone arts and media skills that will last me a lifetime.”

Their shared experiences and collaborations also sparked a mutual respect and a long-lasting friendship. “Oh yes, Momo and I definitely BFFs,” said Riley, with a smile.

Founded in 2012 by Robert Jackson, a 30-year veteran in radio, television and film production, B-Roll Media & Arts, Inc. (www.b-rollmedia.org) is a Maryland state-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. B-Roll works with city and county organizations to provide free-of-cost media & arts training and education to underserved youth ages 13 through 21, as well as to youth with learning disabilities or Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs).

B-Roll recently formed a partnership with Community Empowerment Association in Pittsburgh, PA to offer classes there and is working to expand to other communities across the country.

In eight years, B-Roll’s team of experienced in-house and consulting educators has provided more than 250 youth with qualified, comprehensive and applied experience in film, television, audio engineering, art and music.

“At B-Roll, we believe that traditional education is not designed to accommodate non-traditional learners,” said Jackson. “We believe there is a need to flip the script on education, building a student-centered plan for learning.”

One hundred percent of the youth who are identified as potential beneficiaries and who enroll in the program have finished successfully, he noted. “More than 10 percent go on to higher education or further studies in the arts and media field. Seven percent of those who complete the training get jobs or internships based on the B-Roll work they have produced,” Jackson said.

B-Roll successes Riley and Gray both exhibited interest in the arts early in life. Riley, 16, a junior at McDonough High School, got the arts gene from her father, who she describes as a “art freak”. “He loves photography and trained me to use a camera when I was little.”

When her father gifted her an expensive camera at age 14, her mother found B-Roll classes for her to learn how to use it. Riley has attended every session since. “I learned everything about a camera and about angles and composition. Then I took videography classes and learned about staging and lighting and editing.”

“It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher go on and on about something you’ll never use,” Riley said. “It’s quite another thing to participate in a real photo shoot and be excited and engaged.”

Riley plans a career in broadcast journalism and wants to explore filmmaking as well. “I’m looking now for colleges that offer the courses I need,” she said.

Gray, 17, is a senior at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School. Her parents are both architects and, she said, “They tell me I was using the 3-D computer drawing program Sketchup before I could talk.”

“My dad found B-Roll for me 5 years ago and I’ve attended every time they offered a session,” she added.

Gray exudes excitement and energy when she talks about a future in the arts. “I love fantasy, sci-fi and the supernatural,” she said. “I want to create pictures or films that either make you unsettled or happy or both.”

She notes that it’s important for women to tell their own stories in film and photography. “When men tell women’s stories, they may not get it right. Most people’s worlds are shaped by media and I hope to be able shape their perceptions.”

Gray is currently looking for opportunities to intern or work full time after she graduates in May. “I want to work where I can help to make short films,” she said, noting that she currently has written seven scripts that she’d like to produce.

“My life is in the arts,” she says, “That’s where I’m comfortable.”

For Jackson, students like Riley and Gray are his life. As a youth, he experienced the struggles and humiliation of going through school with an undiagnosed learning disability — Dyslexia. He found solace and direction in media arts which gave him confidence, built his self-esteem and put him on the path to a highly successful career in media & broadcasting.

Jackson has worked with notable media outlets such as Black Entertainment Television, NPR, CNN News, National Geographic, and NBC’s Today Show, Meet the Press, Nightly News, and The Chris Matthews Show, among many others.

Jackson now works to share the skills of a lifetime with young people through B-Roll.

“We believe that we can redirect the lives of youth who struggle in classrooms by focusing on positive activities in media and the arts that can lead to a stable and economically secure future,” Jackson said.

View samples of Riley and Gray’s work at https://www.b-rollmedia.org/b-roll-news

For more information, media representatives may contact Charlotte Roy at charlotte@mcmilloncommunications.com