This post is part of “The Pitch” series, which follows up with socially conscious creatives who submitted to the inaugural Benevolent Media Pitch Night competition in November 2012. At the event, held in Washington, D.C., 13 different projects and organizations presented 3-minute proposals on how to use storytelling and design for social good, for a chance to win funding to make their ideas a reality. (Read about all the winners and finalists here.)
As we gear up to host another Pitch Night during our festival in late-September, we want to know: Where are they now? What’s the status of their project? What lessons have they learned? Do they have any requests for collaboration? Stay tuned!
Daniel Bradley is the CEO of Dreams Work, Inc., a community-based organization that provides youth with opportunities to gain life-building skills and fulfill their dreams through the arts. Daniel has more than 10 years of experience in youth development and community organizing. He is also an expert at violence prevention and resolving gang rivalries. Learn more at www.wemakedreamswork.org.
Tell us about your Pitch Night project.
Dreams Work gives young people in Washington, D.C. the opportunity to use their talents in music, drama and poetry to create an Internet radio show named "Our View." This is a weekly, hour-long talk radio show dedicated to fostering a platform for youth to present and learn about topics that impact their lives. It is a fully youth-led production, where they are able to create all of the content, as well as enhance their communication skills.
What's the status?
We have accomplished what we set out to do. We are not fully funded, but thankfully, small donations have helped us to continue moving forward. Three weeks ago, we partnered with www.blis.fm Internet radio, which now airs our show “Dreams At Work” weekly on Mondays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Streaming from www.blis.fm helps us expose youth to working in a professional studio environment. Most of the kids have never been to a real studio, so it's really special and important to help them visualize a career. We teach them how to collect music, write skits, conduct interviews and create public service announcements.
What else is Dreams Work up to?
Dreams Work operates several community- and school-based programs in Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County and Baltimore. We are a non-traditional arts organization, meaning our focus is not primarily on creating artists. Rather, we teach youth to use the arts as a tool for social change. We also use the arts as a way of academic enrichment.
Currently, a group is working on a project about human trafficking. They are producing a 7-minute short film that highlights some of the underlying reasons trafficking takes place, including demand and financial gains. It is important to our youth to show that “customers” get off free and clear. Dreams Work wants to tell a story that shows people how wrong it is to participate in this horrible act, and if we stop the flow of money, we can stop the problem. This project is sponsored by another phenomenal nonprofit, Sasha Bruce Youthwork.
Dreams Work is creating a space for teens to talk about what's on their mind. After these discussions, we give them a proactive means of doing something about it. Our youth have been able to create a 40-minute anti-bullying movie, a series of short plays about teen dating violence, songs about gang violence and hunger, and PSAs about a range of issues. Our youth learn how to facilitate workshops. They learn to be empathetic leaders and socially conscious artists.
What have you learned from your work thus far?
There are new lessons learned daily, such as ways to adjust program delivery. One of the major things we've learned is that “little can become much.” This work has been accomplished by small consistent donations by people who believe in our work. Since Dreams Work was founded in 2010, we are trying very hard to build a base of active donors, but we are still are not at our goal.
Any upcoming projects or events you want to tell us about?
The biggest is a school-based partnership with the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, called “G.O.O.D. L.O.V.E.” (Guiding Our Own Destiny, Loving Oneself, is Vital to Everyone.) It is a teen dating violence prevention program that seeks to teach teens and pre-teens ways to define healthy relationships. A key step in this process is they must first be healthy thriving individuals who love themselves. This program is expected to launch during the fall of 2013.