Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California Humanities Awards $277,245 to 17 Innovative Projects


Grant Programs Target Emerging Media Makers & Locally-Initiated Public Humanities Projects

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Claudia Leung,, 415.391.1474 x303

December 19, 2018

(Oakland, CA) — After a highly competitive process, California Humanities is pleased to announce $277,245 in awards to 17 new projects through the 2018 California Documentary Project (CDP) NextGen grants and Humanities for All Project Grant programs.

The seven CDP NextGen awards total $102,245, supporting media projects by emerging media makers age 18 and under that shed light on current issues, solutions, and futures as envisioned by young people. This is the first round of awards in this category, and projects range from a series of youth-produced short films on issues of importance to first-time voters in 2020 in Venice, to a program offering San Francisco public school youth an opportunity to train with a public radio station on a podcast series about media literacy.

The ten Humanities for All Project Grants, totaling $175,000, include a range of locally-initiated public humanities projects, from a site-specific sound installation and interactive website on Japanese internment at the Manzanar National Historic Site, to a series of public events in the San Fernando Valley showcasing community-based indigenous wellness and healing practices. Each project adds a new layer to a rich picture of California’s culture, people and history.

“These two innovative grant programs have invited a very competitive and unique set of applicants,” said Julie Fry, President & CEO of California Humanities.  “I am so pleased that we’re able to support these 17 projects from across California. Each one will provide insight into a wide range of topics, issues, and experiences.”

CDP NextGen grants are designed for youth media organizations in support of emerging California media makers. Presented in alignment with CA 2020: Youth Perspective and the Future of California, a new statewide initiative that focuses on the lives and experiences of young people in California, CDP NextGen invites applications from California-based nonprofit organizations and public agencies with established track records in youth media programming to provide training and support to emerging media makers in the creation of short, insightful nonfiction films and/or podcasts that tell original stories about life in California today. NextGen funding is available for up to $15,000 per project.

Humanities for All is a grant program that supports locally-initiated public humanities projects that respond to the needs and interests of people in California, encourage greater public participation in humanities programming, particularly by new and/or underserved audiences, and promotes understanding and empathy among all the state’s peoples in order to cultivate a thriving democracy. Grants range from $10,000 to $20,000 and are awarded twice a year for larger public humanities projects of up to two-years’ duration.


California Dreamers
Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Lisa Marr
Grant Amount: $12,500

Echo Park Film Center’s Summer Youth Class will focus on untold stories of Los Angeles’ undocumented population and create short documentary films that examine, explore and celebrate the lives of some of the state’s 2.5 million undocumented individuals. Participants between the ages of 12 and 18—including youth who are themselves undocumented—will learn about the current state and history of migrants through film, guest speakers and the surrounding community.

First Vote Project
Venice Arts, Venice, CA
Project Director: Issa Sharp
Grant Amount: $15,000

First Vote engages filmmakers ages 15 to 18 to produce a series of short films that use storytelling to explore issues important to young people who will be first time voters in 2020. In collaboration with a humanities advisor, participants will explore how their interests and concerns relate to the larger social, cultural and political landscape.

Influences and Influencers: San Francisco Youth Map their Media
KALW San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco, CA
Project Director: Ben Trefny
Grant Amount: $14,745

San Francisco Bay Area public radio station KALW will offer a two-phase podcasting project built on the station’s current training program in San Francisco Unified School District classrooms and its summer high school internship. Through youth-led research, workshops, and the creation of a six-part podcast series, the project will explore issues of media literacy and media’s influence on young Californians and their communities.

Nuevas Novelas Filmmaking Bootcamp
Justice for my Sister, A Project of Community Partners, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Kimberly Bautista
Grant Amount: $15,000

Justice for my Sister Collective will provide video production training for 18 young women of color and non-binary youth through an innovative and integrative creative training process. Participants will gain media literacy skills, hands-on experience with film industry professionals and storytelling skills as they produce short documentary films created by the youth themselves.

Speak City Heights Youth Voices
Media Arts Center San Diego, San Diego, CA
Project Director: Larry DaSilveira
Grant Amount: $15,000

Youth Voices is a 12-month initiative intended to amplify the voices of immigrant and refugee teens living in San Diego’s most diverse neighborhood, City Heights. The project will engage 60 students at two area Title 1 high schools, and work with professional media artists, a humanities advisor and project director to produce short documentary films about pertinent City Heights issues.

UCR ARTS – Off the Block – Birth to Innovation
Regents of the University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA
Project Director: Nikolay Maslov
Grant Amount: $15,000

Off the Block is an award-winning, free media literacy and documentary production workshop designed to provide local high school students with an intensive summer learning experience. The workshop exposes emerging filmmakers to the history of film and documentary and equips them with artistic concepts and technical skills to complete their own documentary short.

Understanding Change in Oakland: A Youth Perspective
The Oakland Public Education Fund / Youth Beat, Oakland, CA
Project Director: Jake Schoneker
Grant Amount: $15,000

Youth Beat will work with a team of ten advanced filmmaking students to produce a short documentary film that explores the rapidly changing face of Oakland and what this change means for youth in the city. The resulting film will be broadcast on education access station KDOL-TV and featured in a community screening and discussion event.


Bridging Arts and Humanities: Communities in Dialogue
Regents of the University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA
Project Director: Luis Alvarez Ph.D.
Grant Amount: $10,000

Bridging Arts and Humanities will present eight public forums over two years to explore how the arts and humanities can inform discussions about challenges facing everyone  including social justice and hot-button political issues both local and global. Participants will include top scholars in their fields, experts on the local impact of these topics and local community members personally invested or experienced in these issues, along with artists who will discuss their work on campus and off campus at mirroring events. Audiences will include undergraduate and graduate students from UCSD and nearby colleges, faculty and local community members.

Voices of Courage: Oral Histories of Refugees and Asylum Seekers
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Berkeley, CA
Project Director: Lisa Hoffman
Grant Amount: $10,000

Voices of Courage will present historical and current perspectives on sanctuary, highlighting real life experiences of youth and adults who have fled violence and persecution to seek safety and rebuild their lives in the US. It is led by a team of immigrant leaders, humanities specialists and volunteers associated with the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a community-based organization that serves low income refugees and immigrants. Drawing on content from archival materials and new oral history interviews, the project will facilitate in-person and online activities including workshops, forums and exhibits that help audiences to engage with the asylum seekers’ experience and develop an historical and cultural analysis. The project will also develop educational materials in multi-media formats. Voices of Courage has two main audiences: immigrants who have sought safety and are integrating into U.S. society, especially youth, and non-asylum seekers from the broader society seeking to deepen their understanding and empathy.

Familia y Tradiciones: Four Generations of Change at the Jensen-Alvarado Ranch
Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, Jurupa Valley, CA
Project Director: Antone Pierucci
Grant Amount: $17,500

Familia y Tradiciones: Four Generations of Change at the Jensen-Alvarado Ranch will enhance the visitor experience of this historic rancho through a new exhibit focused on the Californio heritage of the Inland Empire and the multicultural history (Anglo and Mexican) of the family for whom it is named. The exhibit will incorporate immersive and interactive elements specifically designed to engage area schoolchildren and families, including displays of family letters and other ephemera and specially-designed immersive elements, such as a touch-screen kiosk where visitors can listen to period music that would have been played by the family. The project hopes to encourage all visitors to explore their own lived experiences and sense of identity and community and provide a more inclusive and accurate narrative about Southern California history.

Imagining Santa Ana
El Sol Science & Arts Academy of Santa Ana, Santa Ana, CA
Project Director: Sue A. Cronmiller
Grant Amount: $20,000

This project will present an eight-part series of public programs at El Sol Conexion, a new cultural center located in downtown Santa Ana, CA in 2019.  Imagining Santa Ana aims to bring new and diverse audience participants together to explore the city’s layered, multicultural history and heritage through activities and conversations which encourage deeper readings of the past and a richer vision for the future. All talks in the series will feature local artists, writers and historians speaking on relevant themes. Topics include: the city in relation to major events in Mexican history, Santa Ana’s growth from 1900-1920, Barrio history, Santa Ana artists in the Chicano Arts movement, the mural as vehicle and voice for the community, Santa Ana through poetry and literature, local oral history projects, a look into the current art and music scene and a critical and provocative examination of mainstream media representations of immigration.

One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices
Visual Communications, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Sue Ding
Grant Amount: $20,000

One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices is an interactive documentary experience with an emphasis on education, oral history and community dialogue. It consists of three main components: a sound installation at Manzanar National Historic Site, a satellite installation in Little Tokyo (and related public programming) and an interactive website. At Manzanar, where more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, audio files will be geolocated across the landscape. Using a mobile app and headphones, visitors will be able to enrich their experience of the site by accessing oral histories, scholarly observations, and comments of other visitors. The satellite installation and a website will feature versions of this experience for virtual visitors. All three components will be fully participatory, inviting visitors to record their own stories to add to the project, and to engage with the contributions of others. This participatory storytelling approach will encourage visitors to engage with both the physical site and its historical archive in new ways, and create a living document of resilience and community. 

Resilience Archives
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Mia Nakano
Grant Amount: $20,000

Resilience Archives combines arts education, visual arts, storytelling, collection and digitization of community archives into living digital map to create stories and memories and uplift the history of California LGBTQ Asian Pacific Americans. Over the next two years, the project will conduct storytelling and narrative writing workshops in the Bay Area, Fresno and Los Angeles, and support the gathering, preservation and digitization of materials for an online archive and physical exhibit. Culminating events including performances and readings will launch the exhibit phase of the project in Los Angeles and the Bay Area and be live streamed to reach across the entire state. The project aims to create and share new knowledge that will provide a more complete and inclusive narrative about California’s history and diverse populations.

Telling Our Personal Stories: Changing How We’re Seen to Who We Are
Filmmakers Collaborative, Inc. San Francisco, CA
Project Directors: Jennifer Crystal Chien and Sabereh Kashi
Grant Amount: $20,000

Telling Our Personal Stories: Changing How We’re Seen to Who We Are is a two-year public media education series that will provide professional education to emerging filmmakers of color, empower prospective community advocates and at the same time engage general audience members in increasing cross-cultural understanding. This project will develop and mentor two cohorts: emerging documentary filmmakers of color who are seeking to document personal stories and emerging community advocates who want to foster better cultural understanding and may have personal stories to share. They will work together to create short films that document community stories, wisdom, practices and culture that are not often seen in mainstream media, especially from Asian Americans (including Middle Easterners/West Asians), those of mixed race and LGBTQ+ people of color in Oakland. The film screenings and community engagement events will reach 1000 audience members during the initial phase, and thousands more through local festivals, online streaming, and public television broadcast.

The Indigenous in Us: Embracing Ancestral Knowledge and Sharing the Beauty of Practice
TIA Chuchas Centro Cultural, Inc. Sylmar, CA
Project Director: Melissa SanVicente
Grant Amount: $17,500

Indigenous-based arts and wellness practices are reemerging as an option for self-care and community-care. This project will showcase community-based indigenous healing and wellness practices of Native Mexica and local Native American groups whose combined teachers and teachings form a human bridge connecting the Northeast San Fernando Valley to the past and present of the United States, Mexico and Central America. A series of free public cultural events over an eighteen-month period will enable the public to witness the art of incorporating nature, social beauty and abundance into traditional ceremonies involving dance, drumming, songs and oral traditions. People of all backgrounds and ages will be invited to engage in original peoples-inspired celebrations of their humanity. A variety of panels, presentations, workshops and traditional ceremonies will provide opportunities to delve deeply into the rich history and motherlode of knowledge that is the source of today’s expressions of ancestral practices.

Tracing Memory
Friends of the Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Long (Michael) Truong
Grant Amount: $20,000

Through Tracing Memory, a photographic and visual arts exhibition, the Chinese American Museum will examine the significance of the Garnier Building. Now home to the museum, it is the oldest surviving Chinese building in California and a site of importance to the history of the state and the Chinese American community. Using artifacts, stories and artworks, the exhibit will explore the evolution of the Chinese American community and downtown Los Angeles. A slate of free programs that includes walking tours, panel discussions about urban planning and gentrification and a community fair will accompany the exhibit and reinforce its themes. The museum hopes the project will reframe what the historic site means to the Chinese American community, promote connections to other communities of color and all Californians and provide opportunities for learning, story sharing and dialogue.

We Are Not Strangers Here: A Cal Ag Roots Story Series
California Institute for Rural Studies, Inc. Davis, CA
Project Director: Ildi Carlisle-Cummins
Grant Amount: $20,000

We Are Not Strangers Here will shine a light on African Americans in the history of California agriculture and rural communities and black people’s relationship with food, farming and land. The third of the Cal Ag Roots story series, this project has three main elements: podcast audio stories which will be posted on a  digital Story Hub accompanied by text and archival visual materials, a live storytelling event at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland and a Story Listening Booth—a travelling exhibition which will include archival materials and audio files from the podcast series evoking the agrarian experience of African Americans in California. The project, which will unfold throughout the 2019 calendar year, is a collaboration between the Cal Ag Roots Project at the California Institute for Rural Studies, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Exhibit Envoy and three rural museum and library partners in the Central Valley who will host the exhibit and related public programs.


California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect us to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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