Charity Details

Community TV Network

You can help to empower youth through media education.

Issue Area: Arts, Culture, Humanities , Education , Public Benefit
Non-profit Status: 501(c)3
Community TV Network (CTVN), a leader in community access to media, empowers low-income young adults and children in Chicago to identify, address, and resolve issues through the use and understanding of digital media arts. CTVN instills in youth the awareness, motivation, and tools they need to create a positive future for themselves and their neighborhoods. Engaging youth in the creative and collaborative process of digital video production, we use the resulting media content to promote positive youth and community development with the overall goal of raising the educational success and economic viability of the neighborhoods where youth participants live and work. Since 1974, our technology and arts curriculum has empowered more than 10,000 urban youth with a platform for self-representation while building self-esteem, community awareness, and intellectual curiosity. Video—our primary educational tool—is taught through hands-on, interdisciplinary, student- and problem-centered programming, capturing the attention of our focus age group in a society dominated by visual media. Digital video production provides youth with tools to enhance academic learning, further developing essential skills that will lead to success in other subjects and endeavors. Our alumni, who come primarily from low-income neighborhoods and attend inner-city schools, have gone on to successful college careers at Southern Illinois University, Columbia College, California Institute of the Arts, The University of Minnesota, The University of Arizona, Howard University, and many more. We provide free after-school programs and in-school classes five days a week, year-round, for over 650 youth, including paid apprenticeship positions, internship positions, on-location job training with professional filmmakers, summer employment, and numerous service learning and volunteer opportunities. Through our partnerships with organizations such as Alternative Schools Network (ASN), After School Matters (ASM), and the State of Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), we currently serve at-risk youth at our central site and at 16 satellite locations in 14 Chicago neighborhoods. Combining an accessible medium with accessible locations, we address the needs of the community by providing meaningful learning experiences in safe and nurturing environments throughout Chicago, by developing youth potential through hands on activities that improve academic and workforce skills, by engaging young people in a media literacy curriculum that hones critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and by cultivating authentic youth voices that articulate positive images of underrepresented youth. Our approach both engages participants in creative youth development activities and uses the resulting youth media messages to directly address urgent community issues. CTVN’s flagship program is “Hard Cover: The Voices and Visions of Chicago’s Youth,” a TV show produced entirely by youth, for youth. “Hard Cover” began its 25th season in the fall of 2011, and holds strong as the longest-running, youth-produced TV program in the nation. Each year, youth from our central site and satellite programs collaboratively produce 24 episodes of “Hard Cover” using state-of-the-art digital video cameras, cutting-edge editing systems, and professional lighting and audio gear. Each episode is then broadcast on cable channel CAN TV 19 in Chicago and Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Youth Channel. In addition to year-round, bi-weekly broadcasts, each “Hard Cover” segment is posted on our YouTube page, which boasts more than 85,000 total upload views. Videos are also shared via facebook and twitter, where our growing presence is pivotal to CTVN’s current organizational focus on increasing dissemination of youth work across multiple social media platforms. Our videos are regularly selected for screening at highly competitive film festivals. Despite limited resources compared to those of their middle-class counterparts, CTVN youth produce videos that are consistently recognized for being the best in their field. Recent festival screenings include the San Francisco International Film Festival (San Francisco, CA); The Real Teens Film Festival (Woodstock; NY); the CineYouth Film Festival (Chicago, IL); at the Do it Your D!@# Self National Youth Video and Film Festival (Boston, MA) the Screen Test Student Fest (Schaumberg, IL); the Westport Youth Film Festival (Westport, CT); The Derek Freese High School Film and Video Festival (Philadelphia, PA); and the Children’s international Film Festival (Boston, MA).
Specific Needs:
Good Working Video Equipment, Computer Equipment, Lighting Equipment, Occasionally office equipment

Our Needs:

Cameras & Photography
Computers & Computer Accessories
Musical Instruments & Accessories
Electronics (other) & Accessories
Kids - School Supplies