After a successful first year that saw three separate cohorts of students from Springfield-area high schools complete the program, New England Public Radio's Media Lab is expanding rapidly under the leadership of director Carlos McBride.
"Media Lab offers a space that allows young folks to relay to the rest of the world; they exist," said McBride. "Their life experiences become the substance of audio projects produced throughout their time in the program, and they're able to engage in all facets of telling stories using sound, from writing to using NEPR's state-of-the-art studios to record and edit their work. It's exciting to see what these young people are bringing to the table to share with us."
Two sessions of Media Lab's after-school program are currently underway. The Springfield cohort includes students from High School of Commerce, Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy, Springfield High School of Science & Technology, Pope Francis High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School. A cohort from Holyoke also was established this year, with students from Wm. J. Dean Technical High School participating in Media Lab for the first time. The curriculum includes recording, interviewing skills, writing, editing, and project based assignments with a graduation celebration planned for May.
This year, Media Lab also expanded to include an Alumni program comprised of seven students who graduated from Media Lab during its first year and wanted the opportunity to continue honing their skills both in front of and behind the mic. In addition to commentary and feature work, they're busy developing a podcast, and plan to explore creating audio books and other projects.
Media Lab has also established a new partnership with The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which works with teen mothers and their families as they continue their education. Media Lab has partnered with The Care Center to work with students enrolled in the center's Media Literacy course at Holyoke Community College. Media Lab is also continuing to work with the The University of Massachusetts Amherst and High School of Commerce's Community Journalism Project
Mass Humanities and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts have recently signed on to fund this work. New England Public Radio also received funding from the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation and the United Bank Foundation in 2016. These generous supporters join the Berkshire Bank Foundation, Inc., Tom and Kit Dennis, Thomas and Marilyn Ewing, The Kittredge Foundation, TD Bank & TD Charitable Foundation and two anonymous donors in funding Media Lab.
"I'm humbled to be a recipient of this grant," said Media Lab Director, Carlos McBride on receiving the most recent grant from Mass Humanities. "The work we are doing at NEPR's Media Lab is vital to the experiences of the young people we serve. Mass Humanities recognizing this is a testament to the commitment of organizations and people who consider the value of equipping young folks with tangible skills that allow for a critical narrative to evolve. It simply reinforces why I am so committed to this work."
Two commentaries produced by Media Lab Students have recently aired on New England Public Radio's Morning Edition. Click here to listen, and find out more about the program.