learn / 2020
Girls' Voices Now
Girls' Voices Now (GVN) amplifies the voices of 24 young women (age 14-18) from low-income and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles by teaching documentary filmmaking, leadership, collaboration and critical thinking skills. During the program, participants learn to create their own short film and to use that medium to affect positive social change in their lives, communities and beyond. GVN culminates with a public premiere screening, where participants invite audience members to get involved through calls to action.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
While Women’s Voices Now delivers this program directly, we have partnered with different organizations for outreach and to replicate the program and will continue to do so. Last year, we teamed up with The Representation Project to deliver our GVN program in Oakland to an additional cohort of girls. We shared our curriculum and hardware with them, and they helped acquire supplies with a financial grant.
Due to the current pandemic, we will most likely need to review GVN’s usual timeline and format this year. We are currently exploring new partnerships with several local youth organizations and schools that have expressed interest for GVN and could provide both venues and students who belong to our target group.
What is the need you’re responding to?
Women and girls are under- and misrepresented in media and film. Globally, less than 24% of news stories are about women. Locally, in Hollywood, the lack of diversity is just as prevalent: 94% of film executives and 87% of directors across all platforms are white, while 96% of film directors, 81% of board members and 78% of parent media corporation senior leadership are men. Generally speaking, it remains extremely difficult for a young woman of color to access the film and media industry, especially if they come from low-income households.
This imbalance has further consequences: among the 100 top-grossing films of 2018, 33% didn’t feature any Black women or girls, 54% any Asian female character, 70% any Latina, and barely any female Native character. Likewise, very few females from the LGBT+ community were represented (Annenberg Inclusion Initiative). This represents just as many missed opportunities to present realistic, relatable, inclusive representations of women and girls.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
Our organization’s goal is supporting the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights. Despite global progress, huge disparities still exist in terms of gender equity and equality (education, economic and political participation, violence against women, etc).
To ensure long-lasting change, we believe that culture shift is key. Film, with its ability to deeply influence our representations, is one of the best mediums to do so. Film also has the unique capacity to reach audiences locally and globally while providing empathy and deeper understanding of complex situations. It is a powerful medium for positive social change.
GVN fits directly into that model. Ours is the only program in Los Angeles that teaches filmmaking, advocacy and leadership to young women from underrepresented communities. GVN has been an ongoing program since 2018. We have the experience, staff expertise and capacity to deliver it successfully as we aim to expand its reach.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
The number of direct beneficiaries (here, 24) may seem low, but in our experience this is the formula that has proven efficient in ensuring high-quality learning and content production, as well as improve the girls’ self-confidence and develop strong ties between participants. While we aim to keep increasing our reach (quantity), our priority is to maintain GVN’s long-lasting impact on participants (quality). Additionally, the program is expected to have a significant indirect impact on each girl’s family, friends and peers, as well as on audience members (in-person and online).
Number of indirect beneficiaries:
- 187,500 online viewers yearly (low estimate)
- 2,500 in-person viewers (premiere screening, additional screenings, festivals).
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
GVN’s goals are to: (i) train young women from underrepresented and low-income communities to create their own content and increase their access to the film and media industry, or similar fields; (ii) help participants gain confidence in their critical thinking, analytical and leadership skills as high school students and future college students, young documentary filmmakers, youth leaders and citizens; (iii) maximize the reach and impact of their films, by teaching them how to share and use their films to advocate for positive social change during in-person events and online; (iv) on the long-term, GVN works toward a more diverse and representative film and media landscape.
To track progress against these goals and evaluate the program’s impact on their personal, academic and professional prospects overtime, we collect extensive feedback from participants at various stages: online surveys before the program begins, then right after, one year after and three years after it ends. Through this series of survey, we gather: (i) demographic and personal information; (ii) their interest for film and media and/or similar fields; (iii) their hopes and plans for the future, before and after the program; (iv) their knowledge of certain concepts, their proficiency in technical skills and their feeling of self-confidence before and after the program (self-evaluated); (v) and their feedback about the GVN (staff, curriculum, guest speakers, venue, length, etc).
Participants’ insight and answers are central when reviewing the program each year. For instance, based on the 2018 alumnae’s feedback, we extended the program from four to five weeks in 2019 to have more time for team-building and editing. We also adapt our curriculum and guest speakers lists based on their feedback. Among other examples, 100% of 2018 alumni applying to colleges in 2019 said that GVN helped them with their admission process (two of our alumnae were accepted to Columbia, NY and UC Berkeley - on a full scholarship!). In 2019, 42% of participants reported feeling self-confident before the program, vs 83% after.
Finally, we also track some metrics for quantitative evaluation: number of direct participants, audience members at the premiere screening (320 in 2018, 225 in 2019) and other on-site settings (750 for 2018 films), online viewers. Recently, we entered a partnership with Here TV for the distribution of our 2018 and 2019 films. They were featured on their platform in early December and have already gathered 100,000+ views and reached a total potential audience of over 19 million. In addition, our 2018 films have been selected to over 15 film festivals, won two first prizes and 6 accolades as finalists and semi-finalists (work in progress for our 2019 films!). Please watch our previous films at: https://www.womensvoicesnow.org/girls-voices-now-program/
GVN is easily scalable (up or down). With bigger budgets, we hope to increase the number of direct beneficiaries and staff, offer additional workshop throughout the year, partner with other organization to replicate the program elsewhere, and strengthen our impact for each participant.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- Arts education
- High school graduation rates
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to CREATE
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Communications support
- Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation