After becoming Essence Festival’s 2022 streaming partner via Hulu, the Walt Disney Company has decided to further invest into the Black Community. Disney announced at the annual event for the black owned publication that they are partnering with Howard University in a multi-year deal to create the Digital Storytellers Fund. Disney will also fund the creation of creative collaborative spaces on campus housed in the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the Cathy Hughes School of Communication.
The fund aims to create opportunities for emerging media professionals and creatives at The Mecca, designated by Disney as “historically underrepresented students”. Howard is the first school where Disney has created this fund. According to a press release secured by HBCU Pulse, the Disney Storytellers Fund will:
-Provide stipends over a five-year period for student projects focused on storytelling across a variety of media including animation, digital design, gaming, journalism, live action, performing arts, product design, visual design, virtual reality and more.
-Provide speakers and mentors to students in the program to spark interest in these fields and help them build the skills necessary for a future career in entertainment
-Assist in building skills necessary for future careers in entertainment
-Assist students in securing fellowships, internships, and full-time roles
Executive Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Disney Jennifer Cohen spoke about the purpose of the Storytellers Fund and how she believes it will help Howard by saying, “Across Disney’s brands, we are working to amplify underrepresented voices and untold stories. The Disney Storytellers Fund at Howard will help us support students and the innovation and creativity that the university has cultivated for more than 150 years. We are excited to help the next generation of Black storytellers bring their ideas to life.”
Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, also chimed in, saying “Our students at the College of Fine Arts find their creative expression in many ways – in the performing arts, in animation, in the design of the products that we use in life. The Disney Storytellers Fund is a great support for our emerging artists as they explore and develop their potential within and across disciplines.”
The Disney Storytellers Fund is a great initiative to increase diversity in the entertainment and media industries. It also will help many communications graduates at Howard University find job placement upon matriculation. We at HBCU Pulse look forward to seeing the success that the program creates.