Serena Witherspoon – Berkeley City College
Witherspoon will receive the Indie Award, presented to a dynamic individual who has demonstrated an independent voice in social media, bringing greater public awareness to a current social issue. Her Huffington Post published blog pertained to raising awareness and the importance of youth taking advantage of the voting system to make positive changes in our world.
Witherspoon has a genuine concern for the planet and the people on it. She has decided to not accept the status quo and encourage her peers to help be the change the world so desperately needs. She is currently working with her mentor Joan Blades at “Living Room Conversations” to make positive and reflective political conversations a part of high school education.
Hank Rugg – Youth Radio
Rugg is the recipient of the Rising Star Award, which recognizes an up-and-coming media professional who has exhibited tremendous potential and passion in creating radio/audio features and brings greater public awareness to a current social issue. He wrote a commentary about his experience having to parent his father after his father had a stroke earlier this year.
Rugg paints a distinctive picture of what it’s like to cope with major change and loss as a teen while also dealing with transition into adulthood. His story highlights his perspective as a teen having to take care of someone that once took care of him and employs futurist and innovative principals while confronting an issue that is unique to children with disabled/differently-abled parents.
Luis Flores, Maya Escobar, Mikey Prizmich – Youth Radio
A team of young video producers and journalists at Youth Radio have created a compelling piece about the volatile state of gun violence in many Oakland neighborhoods and all around the nation, with an inside look on the effects shootings have in a community. They are the recipients of the Maverick Award, which recognizes up-and-coming media professionals who have exhibited tremendous potential and passion in creating an animation or multimedia project, bringing greater public awareness to a current social issue.
Prizmich and Flores creatively use animation to convey Escobar’s story, an otherwise graphic and traumatic experience, in an innocent fashion. It exposes a side of this violence that many forget: The effects of growing up to gunshots on our future generations.
Dashawn Clinton, Demario Lewis, DetermiNation Media Group – United Roots
The Innovator Award goes to DMG for its focus on engaging young black men from the Oakland area. Its program is especially tailored to provide culturally relevant healing practices to support young men who are aspiring to advance their own life goals (such as employment, career, educational or other personal goals). As part of the program, youth participants also
develop their media production skills and produce short films, music and graphic design to share their personal stories and/or present a vision of a healthy community of color in Oakland. This nomination comes from their work to partner with the Latino community in San Francisco to inspire a Black and Brown Unity movement in the greater Bay Area.
The DetermiNation Media Group’s video “Amor for Alex” investigates the killing of Alex Nieto by the San Francisco Police in March 2014.