The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are known for their work in health and education around the world, but did you know that they are putting their funds behind a massive effort to incorporate those same issues into your favorite television shows?
A NY Times article highlights the foundation’s partnership with Viacom - the parent company of MTV, and its sister network of Vh1, BET and Nickelodeon - to create ‘Get Schooled.’ The article states that this new partnership involves consultation between Gates Foundation experts and executives at all Viacom networks that make programming decisions. Their goal is to weave education-themed story lines into existing shows or to create new shows centered on education.
One of the Gates Foundation’s projects mentioned in the article is ‘Bring Your "A" Game’, a 22-minute documentary film that is aimed at urban youth showing the consequences of dropping out of high school. The film is directed by actor–director Mario Van Peebles and will exclusively air on BET this year. It details strategies that have improved the lives of Black men and boys and will underscore the importance of educational achievement and high school graduation for survival and success in today’s world.
Among those featured in the documentary include Richard “Dick” Parsons, Chris Rock, Spike Lee, Dr. Cornel West, Ice Cube, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kevin Liles, Lou Gossett Jr., Lupe Fiasco, Hill Harper, Damon Dash, Kevin Powell, Melvin Van Peebles, Geoffrey Canada, Bruce Gordon and former NBA star Alan Houston, among others.
The 21st Century Foundation, an African American foundation, is also a partner in this project. They are spearheading a community engagement campaign that brings together resources and strategies from their Black Men and Boys Initiative, to encourage you and your community to get involved. They urge community groups, faith-based organizations, schools, policymakers, and funders to use BRING YOUR “A” GAME to discuss not only the challenges that affect Black America, but to use it as the basis for conversations about solutions.
Their interactive website features a viewer discussion guide, a curriculum guide for adults who work with youth, templates for creating programming for Black men and boys in your community, and an application for complimentary community screening DVDs for organizational use (limited numbers available.) Visit the website here.