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The Educational Video Center is a non-profit youth media organization dedicated to teaching documentary video as a means to develop the artistic, critical literacy, and career skills of young people, while nurturing their idealism and commitment to social change. Founded in 1984, EVC has evolved from a single video workshop for teenagers from Manhattan's Lower East Side to become an internationally acclaimed leader in youth media education. EVC's teaching methodology brings together the powerful traditions of student-centered progressive education and independent community documentary.
EVC began 24 years ago with a simple idea: put video cameras in the hands of young people from underserved communities and teach them to go out into the city, ask hard questions and tell stories about the world as they see it - with all its problems and possibilities. The result was impactful and immediate. Students with histories of truancy were so engaged that they came to their video class early, stayed into evenings, and even came in during the weekends and vacations to finish their documentaries and meet the deadline of their premiere screening. Their documentaries were honest and gritty portraits of life at home, in school and in the streets of their neighborhoods: families living in East Harlem tenements without heat or hot water, South Bronx youth organizers for environmental justice, youth caught in the juvenile justice system, and teenage survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This was a life changing experience for the youth making these documentaries and for the parents, teachers and community audiences who watched them. These students who had never succeeded in school before began winning awards and scholarships and were hired to work in the media industry.
From this small video class in a Lower East Side alternative school, EVC grew into an award winning organization with four core programs:
Documentary Workshop, YO-TV (Youth Organizers TV), Professional Development Program (PDP), and Community Engagement. EVC was featured in the New York Times, on the Today Show and was twice honored at the White House with the prestigious President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Coming Up Taller Award, presented annually to only ten cultural organizations in the country. EVC youth-produced documentaries have been broadcast on the NBC, ABC and PBS television networks. In addition, their tapes have won more than 100 awards nationally and internationally, including an Emmy.
While video cameras are now a whole lot smaller, and students now learn to edit with computers instead of stop watches and grease pencils, nothing has changed about our original idea or our mission. Our reputation has grown and our reach has expanded, we stay true to our core. We are proud that our pioneering work has now become nationally and internationally acclaimed as a model for media arts education, transforming the lives of thousands of the most hard-to-reach youth every year.
In 2007, building on our model of study groups and teacher institutes, EVC launched the national Youth Media Learning Network, in partnership with the Education Development Center, to offer peer professional development opportunities to youth media practitioners in select cities across the country. EVC’s documentaries, books, study groups, and educational methodology are screened, read, discussed and taught in teachers colleges, high schools, museums, and community centers across the United States and abroad in London, Belfast, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Soweto.
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