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Students Participate in Disney on the Yard Event 

Howard students gather to learn about the launching Disney Storytellers Fund. Photo by Eliana Lewis.

Disney representatives came to Howard University last week to speak to students about the Disney on the Yard event, which promoted the recent launch of The Disney Storytellers Fund at Howard. 

The Disney Storytellers Fund plans to provide stipends for student-driven projects. According to the press release, the stipends will be provided across a five-year period and will target student projects in various forms of media such as “animation, digital design, gaming, journalism, live action, performing arts, product design, visual design, virtual reality, and more.”

Applications for the program open on Oct. 1. 

Chadwick Boseman School of Fine Arts Dean Phylicia Rashad and Cathy Hughes School of Communications Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders along with a representative from Disney set up a table underneath the tent used for Sunday chape services, beside the Carnegie building on Howard’s Yard. The table was covered with Mickey Mouse-shaped rice crispy treats and small informational sheets for students to take with them. Students also received Disney-themed notebooks and pens to continue drafting their pitches.

Gracie Lawson-Boarders (purple shirt) and Phylicia Rashad (creme shirt) pose for a picture with two other ladies. Photo by Eliana Lewis.

As the Dean of the School of Communications, Lawson-Boarders was able to speak about the significance of not only the program but what it meant to her students.

“What I see this program doing – this Disney Storytelling Fund – is it gives the communications students and the fine arts students the opportunity to tap into their creativity, their innovation and then given that opportunity –if they are awarded a stipend – to go and make that happen,” Lawson-Boarders said.

Speaking as the Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Rashad was also able to express the importance of the soon-to-be-launched program and its impact it might have on her students. “This has never happened before,” she said. “This has never happened where there has been funding for student projects – not in this magnitude.” 

Mia Bennett-Jones (Left), Kyndahl Dixon (Middle) and Alexia Thompson (Right) show their Disney items. Photo by Eliana Lewis.

Students at the event expressed their excitement about the program. Mia Bennett-Jones, a junior TV and film major from New Jersey spoke about how influential she thought the program was. 

“I feel like Disney coming out here and giving us a chance to bring our visions to life means so much because I know so many people with ideas but not the funds with the means to pursue those ideas,” Bennett-Jones said.

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At the HBCU 2022 Philanthropy Symphonism held this past July, the Walt Disney Company announced that they would be joining Propel to create opportunities for historically underrepresented students to support future storytellers and innovators. The Disney Storytellers Fund is one of Disney’s first big collaborations with a Historically Black College and University.

Jennifer Cohen, Disney’s executive vice president of corporate social responsibility, spoke on behalf of the company saying, “Across Disney’s brands, we are working to amplify underrepresented voices and untold stories.” Cohen believes The Disney Storytellers Fund will allow students at Howard to gain the support meant to elevate the innovation, talent, and creativity that has existed at Howard for over 150 years. 

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

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