La Casa Azul Productions: Digital Media Apprenticeship Pilot Program

By Bianca Alvarado

According to the United States Department of Education, Hispanics “occupy only 2 percent of the STEM workforce in the United States. Additionally, only 10 percent of college and university degrees awarded in STEM fields are given to Hispanics.” This statistic highlights the large gap in access and service provided to Hispanic communities across the country.

The U.S. Alumni TIES seminar, “Stronger American Cities: Closing the Skills Gap and Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” that I attended in March 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri inspired a project that is funded through an Alumni TIES grant from the U.S. Department of State. The project, “La Casa Azul Productions’ Digital Media Apprenticeship Pilot Program,” is working to train Hispanic youth on how to create digital content work in the technology industry. My team members, Jo Nelson and Freddy Espinosa, and I created an apprenticeship program where Hispanic youth from disadvantaged communities receive training and knowledge on careers related to technology, specifically, in digital media content creation, such as website development, content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, illustration, introduction to marketing, and social media management.

When we started the pilot program our first objective was to pre-screen 20 potential local Hispanic youth that would participate in the training program. We recruited participants through local community events and Hispanic-centered supermarkets by presenting information about the program, talking to the parents, handing out flyers, and allowing parents to register in person. After our group was selected, we began implementing the first workshop. Along the way, we came across a number of issues varying from familial conflicts to kids not having much prior knowledge about computer technology. As a result of learning about these new issues, we made some adjustments to our program and decided to switch the trainings to primarily take place online. With the online platform, students were now able to access content at any time and review the material if needed while we were able to more effectively track their progress and run analytical data. We intend on creating a blended learning program where students learn online but still have a physical space to implement their learning.

Students taking part in the first workshop.
Students can create an account and access the course online at www.casaazulproductions.com.

Currently, we are preparing the next phase of our project where the students will pilot this online course that we have been co-creating with them. With the help of international instructors and collaborators, we are producing educational videos on topics such as website development and illustration to be posted on YouTube. These videos will be created by youth for youth. With the help of international instructors and collaborators, we are producing educational videos on topics such as website development and illustration. These videos will be available on YouTube and be accessible through the online course that we are building.

We are also building an online course for participants which will consist of videos, quizzes, and hands-on projects. The aim of this course is to introduce them to the field of digital media creation. Additionally, we will soon begin an illustration course which will allow youth to turn their hand drawings into digital media. At this point, we plan to extract the best practices that we learn from the overall program so that it can be replicated with the ultimate goal of qualifying participating students to receive an official certification. Looking ahead, our hope is that the students will use the knowledge that they have gained and share it within their communities and use it to empower themselves and ultimately expand their future career prospects.

We are creating educational YouTube-style videos.

For any questions or comments, you can reach me, the program leader: Bianca Alvarado at info@casaazulproductions.com

You can also follow our Facebook page to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/lacasaazulproductions/

La Casa Azul Productions: Digital Media Apprenticeship Pilot Program is funded through an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.

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