History & Mission
Reel Works provides free filmmaking programs for NYC Youth. Using a unique, one-on-one mentoring model, we challenge at-risk youth to tell their stories and have their voices heard. In turn, they build vital skills of literacy, leadership and self-confidence to create productive futures.
Reel Works is one of the leading digital media educators in the United States. We are the only filmmaking program that matches teens 1:1 with professional filmmaker-mentors to tell their stories and have their voices heard. It’s a powerful combination that changes young lives while creating startling and original films that have been seen by over 9 million viewers since our founding in 2001. What began as a single workshop of 17 students at the Prospect Park YMCA in Park Slope, Brooklyn has grown to provide free after school and in-school programs give a voice to over 500 youth citywide. Reel Works programs are designed to engage youth through intensive in-school or after-school filmmaking workshops and to provide a safe community and a continuum of learning opportunities that extend from middle school to high school to college and beyond. All our workshops are standards-based, rigorous and centered on literacy, storytelling, hands-on learning and a commitment to excellence. Reel Works has a well-earned reputation for innovation and quality:
- Our student films have been broadcast locally and nationally on HBO Family, PBS, Oprah, MSNBC and, through our partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, WNYC-Life in our weekly series, Reel Works with Avan Jogia.
- Our filmmakers have received countless honors worldwide, including five National Student Emmy awards and two New York Emmy nominations.
- In 2008, the White House presented Reel Works with the Coming Up Taller Award from President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, the nation’s top honor for after school arts programs.
More than anything, Reel Works is a community active learners where young people and adult mentors meet, collaborate and inspire one another to succeed.