Strayer University and The Blackhouse Foundation Launch Scriptwriter Competition to Bring Real Perspectives on Criminal Justice to the Classroom

Strayer University, in partnership with The Blackhouse Foundation—a leading voice working to elevate and increase the number of diverse voices in filmmaking—this week announced the launch of ScriptED, a nationwide competition to discover a talented up-and-coming screenwriter who can help bring real perspectives to Strayer’s Ethics in Criminal Justice course.

“Research tells us that the human-brain is wired to learn through storytelling. With that in mind we created Strayer Studios—a production team dedicated to infusing course curriculum with documentary-style films to better engage students and help them grasp subject matter in more meaningful ways,” said Karl McDonnell, CEO of Strategic Education, Inc. (SEI), the parent company of Strayer University.

“Three years later, after seeing Studios content help increase student engagement and improve outcomes, we are partnering with The Blackhouse Foundation to advance this effort by discovering new voices and stories that embody the diverse perspectives and life experiences of our students.”

The ScriptED competition calls for an original concept and script that includes a compelling and authentic storyline that addresses the key principles and reality of community experiences in criminal justice; therefore, sparking debate and understanding of this topic among Strayer students.

Further details, rules, and submission guidelines are listed here. The top five finalists will win a trip to attend and pitch their scripts to a panel of esteemed judges from Strayer University, The Blackhouse Foundation, the criminal justice field, and the film and television industries at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where the winner will be announced.

The winner will receive $10,000 in prize money and the opportunity to join Strayer University’s team of Emmy Award-winning filmmakers as a virtual artist in residence to develop a series of narrative episodic educational content over a six-month period.

“Storytelling is at the core of who we are as human beings, so it makes perfect sense for us tap into the power of stories through film to inspire learning,” said Brickson Diamond, Chairman of The Blackhouse Foundation. “My hope is that this collaboration will help to elevate and champion up-and-coming talent in an emerging content platform while engaging students with perspectives that resonate with them and help to elevate their education to the next level.”

Judge Victoria Pratt, former Chief Judge in Newark Municipal Court, current Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, and nationally acclaimed advocate for criminal justice reform, will evaluate submissions and serve as a judge during the live pitch session.

“Criminal justice elicits passionate viewpoints, often rooted in personal experience. Visual storytelling can create a deeper and more compassionate understanding among criminal justice students of the diverse experiences and perspectives that exist in our society,” said Pratt. “I’m honored to be one of the judges selecting a scriptwriter who will shape students’ engagement with the complex questions of ethics and criminal justice.”

Aaliyah Williams, executive producer of the soon to be released Netflix series, Gente-fied, and producer of the upcoming feature film Really Love starring Kofi Siriboe, will also participate in the pitch session. Williams’ production company, Just A Rebel, focuses on television and film that “shifts the culture forward”. Its slate, that primarily centers and celebrates Black women, includes the television adaptation of Marita Golden’s critically acclaimed novel, The Wide Circumference of Love. Additionally, Williams leads the “Death of the Code Switch” panel series that spotlights Black filmmakers and writers who have broken down barriers within the film and television industry through authentic storytelling.

“I am thrilled to help discover and amplify storytellers of color who can impact the complicated and important issue of criminal justice in a nuanced and fresh way,” said Williams. “I have long admired the work of The Blackhouse Foundation and look forward to joining forces with Brickson and Strayer University to harness the power of Black and Brown excellence.”

After the winner is announced, they will be recognized at a Strayer sponsored discussion at the Sundance Film Festival titled, “The Power of Storytelling in Education” that will explore the impact of film in education. Other panelists include former WNBA basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw, whose personal story of bipolar disorder and depression is featured in Strayer’s Intro to Psychology course, and University faculty member Ryan Poirier. Brickson Diamond will serve as the moderator.

Strayer University—a leader in educating working adults for more than 127 years—launched Strayer Studios in 2016 to bring online education courses to life and improve the satisfaction, engagement and continuation of students who are often juggling school with other responsibilities, including work and childcare. Since then, Strayer faculty has found that Studios content increased students’ online class attendance, completion of assignments and participation in class discussions. Initial data found that 10% fewer Strayer students dropped courses that incorporated Studios content.

Strayer Studios and the ScriptED competition are part of a series of initiatives by the University and SEI to support working adult students, including the implementation of cutting-edge AI technology and other programs to deliver student services and support persistence towards degree completion.

Interested applicants should visit

SOURCE: Black PR Wire

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