Youth Documentary Academy Youth Documentary Academy - Give!
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Youth Documentary Academy


YDA provides tuition­-free mentorship by professionals in the art of documentary film. By doing so, it levels the playing field among elite training academies that exist primarily in bigger coastal cities. Following production, graduates work extensively with YDA staff to distribute their films in highs school, community settings and on PBS. YDA graduates use their work to open the doors to courageous conversations.


YDA students not only gain technical and professional skills for a career in film, television or media, but also a deep understanding of how to transpose a story idea into a documentary film. Film allows them to share their lived experience in a way that empowers and inspires both the filmmaker and the audience, creating advocates around a cause, and allowing our youth to become engaged citizens in our community.


In 2021, YDA partnered with School District 11 to create the first ever Youth Media Matters film festival. The program pairs YDA films with teen mental health experts and organizes screening events with moderated Q&A, opening the door to courageous conversations. Since then, six other school districts have requested this program. We need your help and sponsorships to bring YDA into schools across the region.

Did You Know

Research shows that youth from marginalized backgrounds who can articulate clear narratives about their community show increased resiliency and college readiness.

“YDA films explore key public policy issues that are in our national conversation. I applaud these young filmmakers for so courageously and intimately tackling social issues that matter to them and sharing with such a broad audience.” — Congresswoman Diana DeGette, U.S. House

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