Free Spirit Media transforms media and society by providing opportunities for emerging creators from communities of color to produce and distribute original content, and to pursue artistic, personal and professional aspirations. Free Spirit Media pursues this mission by providing an engaging learning environment that stimulates meaningful media creation, fosters an entrepreneurial and visionary culture, taps into the talents of the Free Spirit Media team, and understands that social transformation is only viable when individuals promote and practice equality, inclusion, and solidarity.
Free Spirit Media provides teens and young adults in communities of color on Chicago’s West and South sides with a comprehensive foundation in media literacy and hands-on media production experience. Free Spirit Media runs in-school arts education, after school and summer digital media programs, and advanced creative workforce development programs. Since 2001, Free Spirit Media has empowered more than 6,500 youth to share their stories, discover their potential, build 21st century skills, and engage with peers and communities through digital media.
Free Spirit Media was initially established by current Founder & Executive Director Jeff McCarter in 2000, with the formation of HoopsHIGH, a sports broadcasting after-school program. From a humble start with one program and two volunteer staff members, a team of 26 highly talented and passionate media production and youth development professionals- including program alumni-now lead Free Spirit Media, which has expanded to offer a comprehensive foundation in media literacy and hands-on media production experience across six program sites on Chicago’s West and South sides. Correspondingly, the reach of Free Spirit Media’s programs has grown to serve over 500 Chicago youth ages 14 to 25 annually.