Teen filmmakers in Raw Art Works’(RAW) Real to Reel film program took on the issues of bullying and teen suicide through the full production of a music video which they conceptualized, wrote, directed, and edited entirely on their own for Boston indie rock artist and activist Jen Grygiel(GRYGIEL). RAW’s teens worked to convey the stories of three gay teens as they support each other through the difficult reality of being gay in high school. Social isolation, bullying, family stress, and heartbreak are all explored within the hopeful stories of youth emerging positively from situations where there seems to be almost no end in sight; a striking visual accompaniment to the powerful words of GRYGIELS’s own “It Gets Better” story.
Woolly Mammoth Sound donated studio time for GRYGIEL’s upcoming single, “Make it Out,” which will be released as a follow up to her successful recent EP GRYGIEL. GRYGIEL partnered with New England-based music retailer Newbury Comics on her last EP to donate the proceeds to the “It Gets Better Project” which seeks to help LGBT youth envision a life worth living. Proceeds of her upcoming single will be split between the It Gets Better Project and Raw Art Works.
"I'm really inspired after working with the students at RAW,” says Grygiel on the collaboration. “They took my song "Make it Out" and made an amazing video that shows the power that youth have. We focus all this attention on getting adults to help kids but actually kids have all the skills they need when adults allow them to be themselves and have a voice. One important lesson that I learned from these students, and the program at RAW, is that it's really important for kids to help each other and for adults to create safe, supportive, environments where they can thrive and be happy."
Chris Gaines, director of the Real to Reel film program at RAW, says “It was cool watching my students, gay and straight, work together as professionals to tell stories that were close to their lives and experiences—stories that matter and that reflect the reality of their world. Jen couldn’t have been a cooler artist to collaborate with; she was trusting of their vision and gave them plenty of room to be honest in their storytelling.” While the video focuses on the stories of gay teens, it also focuses on the larger issue of bullying. “My students felt that they hadn’t seen or heard their own stories told from their perspective in the media. Our film school aims to have kids tell their stories in a really meaningful way, and it’s awesome to see this story played out in a music video.”
Volunteer Mentors in Project Launch inspire our students to pursue higher education and careers after high school. They assist seniors in the many aspects of applying to colleges, scholarships, financial aid, and apprenticeships or job training programs. Project Launch is looking for enthusiastic individuals whose diverse perspectives and skills will bring inspiration and practical help to the lives of our seniors in high school. Mentors are selected based on their background and ability to commit to the relationship. Selected volunteers must attend a two-hour training and commit to one academic year of mentoring.
Becoming a Launch Mentor involves:
· Interview process
· Criminal background check
Check out two recent articles about our college bound grads!
· 'Sky is the limit' for RAW scholarship winner, August 10, 2011
· Classical grad named Bank of America student leader, August 24, 2011
Stats and Quotes from Project Launch 2010-11:
24 seniors from Raw Art Works were matched with 24 mentors.
92% of the seniors applied to and were accepted into colleges for the fall of 2011!
7 students have been awarded four-year renewable MERIT scholarships from various schools.
· 1 student won the POSSE Scholarship for Centre College in Kentucky for $42,500 per year for four years.
· 1 student won the YAWKEY scholarship for $17,778 per year for four years and received a scholarship of $5000 from the United Way
· 1 student was accepted into MIT and will be receiving $43,000 per year for four years.
· 1 was awarded Bank of America Student Leader award which included a summer internship and summit in Washington DC.
"Colleen is the first person in her family to apply to college so the support at home was minimal. I was able to offer support, vision and focus. I felt rewarded being a mentor-- to visit schools with Colleen and see her begin to dream.” – Nancy, Mentor Project Launch
"I came to America two years ago. In my country we have completely different process of applying to college. I didn't know what to do and RAW’s Launch program helped me with all my college process. LAUNCH gave me the motivation to do better in school. I didn't know how I would have done it all if I didn't have someone to help me." -- Tatyana, graduating senior
If you are interested in becoming a Project Launch mentor - please e-mail Susannah at email@example.com.