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 $90,000 to Six CDP NextGen Projects Supporting Youth Media Storytelling


For Immediate Release 
Media Contact:  Kerri Young, Communications Manager, 

May 10, 2023—(Oakland, CA)— California Humanities is pleased to announce $90,000 in new grants through the 2023 CDP NextGen Grant program to six youth media projects serving emerging mediamakers ages 18 and under from around the state. Projects range from a training program designed to provide Native youth opportunities to produce films about their tribal community, history, language, and culture; to an exploration of the influence of pop culture on young people’s identities; to a production training and media literacy program for system-engaged youth in San Diego.

“We are thrilled to see both new and returning CDP NextGen grantees supporting youth media programming on a diverse range of subjects,” said Rick Noguchi, President & CEO of California Humanities. “Youth participants will not only share meaningful community stories from their California regions, but will also learn important skills in media literacy, filmmaking, podcasting, interviewing, and more.” 

Within a classroom setting, a girl looks into a camera while three other girls look on.
A scene showing a teen boy being interviewed, boom mics and other camera equipment visible.
Top to bottom: CDP NextGen grants will support projects such as Girls’ Voices Now training program (image courtesy of Women’s Voices Now), a Native Youth Take Action Media Workshop (image courtesy of the Barcid Foundation), and Emerging Makers at Second Chance (image courtesy of Media Arts Center San Diego).

If California is sometimes seen as an indicator of where the United States is heading, then the state’s 9 million young people under the age of 18 will play an increasingly significant role in shaping who we are and the issues that we care about in coming years. CDP NextGen is designed to nurture California’s next generation of documentary storytellers and amplify a broad range of young Californians’ perspectives on subjects and issues of importance their lives and communities. The program’s youth-made films and podcasts shed light on not only the problems we face, but also on the solutions that youth are proposing and the futures they envision. 

CDP NextGen is a youth-focused category of California Humanities’ longstanding California Documentary Project grant program. Through CDP NextGen, California Humanities has awarded almost $500,000 to nonprofit organizations and public agencies serving young Californians as they create short, insightful nonfiction films and podcasts that tell original stories about life in California today. We are particularly interested in projects that, in addition to providing technical training in media production, actively support critical thinking and media literacy. CDP NextGen grants are available for up to $15,000 per project. 

CDP NextGen Projects Awarded in 2023 

And It Goes On
Applicant Organization: YR Media
Project Director: Wen Yu

And It Goes On is a short documentary series aimed at uncovering aspects of culture that helped shape who youth participants are today, whether through their communities, individuals, or the subcultures they are drawn to. Students will create short documentaries using a mix of found footage, video recordings, and interviews, and research the history of pop culture and countercultures to understand the influence and evolution of its form and why it continues to thrive today.

CMAC Youth Voices
Applicant Organization: CMAC (Community Media Access Collaborative)
Project Director: Johnny Pecina

A project intended to cultivate and amplify the voices of Central Valley youth, CMAC Youth Voices will foster critical thinking through storytelling while increasing technical and creative skills in media production. The program seeks to empower young people with the skills necessary to not only become better consumers and creators of media, but also provide them with the confidence to educate their community, advocate for their concerns, and increase the impact of their voices.

Emerging Makers at Second Chance
Applicant Organization: Media Arts Center San Diego
Project Director: Seth Gadsden

Emerging Makers (EM) at Second Chance benefits San Diego-area system-engaged youth ages 14–18 by providing them with documentary production knowledge, technical training, media literacy tools, a safe environment to explore personal narratives and social justice concepts, and a deeper appreciation of the moving image. Students in EM are alumni of San Diego Second Chance programs or Juvenile Court Community Schools (JCCS) and have often experienced the foster care system or being unhoused. Participants work with professional filmmakers and collaborate to produce short documentaries that deepen their understanding of the impact of systemic harm, restorative practices, community, and health.

Girls’ Voices Now
Applicant Organization: Women’s Voices Now
Project Director: Chelsea Byers

Girls’ Voices Now (GVN) provides opportunities for girls and femme-identifying youth ages 14-18 from underrepresented and low-income communities of the Greater Los Angeles area to find, develop, and use their voice for social change through filmmaking. The program teaches participants to produce their first short documentary film and how to use it to ignite positive social change they wish to see in their lives, communities and beyond. In addition to technical and creative media production, participants also learn leadership skills such as public speaking, building confidence in voicing opinions, critical thinking, and collaboration, and personal skills such as building self-esteem.

Native Youth Take Action Media Workshop
Applicant Organization: Barcid Foundation
Project Director: Patricia Gomes

The Native Youth Multimedia Workshop program is designed to empower Native youth by providing opportunities to produce films about their tribal community, history, language and culture. With a mission is to improve media portrayals of Native Americans and to increase the number of Native American artists in all facets of the media industry, the program encourages educational achievement through media projects that empower Native Americans, enhance academic and economic growth opportunities, and preserve Native American community culture and heritage.

Nuevas Novelas
Applicant Organization: Community Partners with Justice for My Sister
Project Director: Kimberly Bautista

Nuevas Novelas is a storytelling and community engagement media intensive for teens of color, ages 13-18, covering media literacy, storytelling, and filmmaking. In 2024, Nuevas Novelas will serve 20 emerging youth filmmakers in the San Fernando Valley with a curriculum emphasis on Documenting Urban Planning and Imagining Environmental Justice. Students learn about media literacy, the environmental issues affecting their communities, and how to flip the script on traditional narratives about ethnicity, race, and gender that contribute to misrepresentation in the TV and film industry, as well as the news, social media, and pop culture.

Click here to see the list and descriptions of all projects funded to date. For information about the California Documentary Project program contact John Lightfoot, Director of Media and Journalism Programs, at

California Humanities, a statewide 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 people 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 like and follow on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Participants in CMAC Youth Voices. Courtesy of Community Media Access Collaborative.

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