The Summer CHA Programs in Documentary Filmmaking, Interdisciplinary Design and Screenwriting

students with instructor walking downtown DePaul/CHA Programs Highlight Video

DePaul/CHA Programs Highlight Video   

instructor with student viewing a handheld video camera

NBC Chicago, Making a Difference   

Chaz Ebert greeting students

Chaz Ebert inspires young filmmakers in the SCA/CHA Documentary Filmmaking Program   


Program Details

Program Details

Since 2016, we have partnered with the Chicago Housing Authority to offer six-week intensives for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) youth participating in One Summer Chicago. The learn-and-earn model provides youth, primarily from Chicago’s South and West Sides, with an opportunity to get paid while learning hard skills; opening new economic pathways within film/media industries. This year’s programs will be taught in-person on DePaul’s Loop Campus from June 26th – August 3rd, 2021.

CDM is looking to hire a Graduate Assistant Program Administrator and several Graduate Student Mentors with skills in one of the following areas: filmmaking, screenwriting, game & graphic design, and photography.

Deadline to apply: Sunday, May 23rd.

Role of Student Mentor and Student Assistant Program Administrator

Each program for CHA youth is designed to be a transformative experience for participants and DePaul student mentors. As a mentor, you’ll spend quality time with youth from across the city learning about their lived experiences while imparting knowledge you’ve acquired through DePaul classes and your own personal development.

The role of the student mentor includes: participating in youth orientation; attending training workshops; being present during all program hours (Mon-Thurs, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm); fostering leadership qualities through team-building and conflict resolution exercises; and building self-esteem and self-agency through the vehicle of socially conscious storytelling in a documentary, screenwriting, graphic/game design, or photography format.

The Student Assistant Program Administrator role will be to work closely with the program director in overseeing the success of all four programs. In this role, they will get to interact with youth from the four concentration areas. They’ll be asked to attend some of their field trips and onsite production days.

Documentary Production

group photo of students

The School of Cinematic Arts six-week intensive Documentary Filmmaking Program prepares CHA youth to become future filmmakers in documentary production. The intensive will create a collaborative environment with university faculty and graduate students where Chicago-area, female-identifying youth (ages 15-20), learn valuable media skills in film/media that provide a voice for social issues that concern them most. The program will demonstrate how young women can employ media in positive ways and usher in a group of future female and student leaders who understand (and advocate for) the challenges young women face.

CHA youth guided by School of Cinematic Arts faculty and graduate student mentors, are immersed in pre-production, production, and post-production with the goal of creating four short distinct documentaries.


The School of Cinematic Arts six-week Screenwriting Program provides CHA youth with the skills to write screenplays designed for television or digital streaming platforms. Through a series of lectures and discussions, participants will be introduced to the formal art of screenwriting. They will apply their knowledge in crafting two short screenplays that will be workshopped over the course of the intensive.

The topics covered include screenplay format, visual writing style, scene craft, story structure, character development, and dialogue. Supported by accomplished filmmakers and graduate student mentors, CHA teens will workshop a group screenplay written in teams of four or five as well as an individual original short screenplay. Throughout the program, participants will screen a variety of curated short films with social themes relevant to youth for story analysis and discussion.

Game & Graphic Design

The CHA Program in Game & Graphic Design seeks to work with youth to facilitate ways for them to express their voice through a tour of tools and media and then process that result in interactive experiences. The exploration of design tools include journaling, interactive fiction, digital painting, digital audio, 2d animation, and how to bring them all together in graphic design and game experiences. The program will provide CHA participants with an open-source creator’s toolbox composed of various applications and tools that can be run from a flash drive on any computer a participant can access.

Guided by faculty and student mentors, CHA youth will explore various processes that reveal their creative personality, how and where it is strongest, and how to use that to drive a final presentation/creation that will be shared with their community. Together, they will explore various locations and environments and ways of expressing the experiences of those environments via our digital media and interaction tools. Participants will audit their communities for issues they can address and explore ways of making these issues accessible and experience-able by others.


Through two lenses—the lens of a camera and the lens of their life experiences—CHA participants gain technical photography skills and learn the power of their personal narratives. CHA youth are trained by award-winning faculty, mentored by graduate students, and visited by industry guest speakers. They participate in photo meetups to get hands-on training and build community. The program is also designed to expose participants to photography as a career option in several genres including portraiture, commercial, fine art and journalism. Every assignment will utilize a new skill to develop cumulative knowledge of professional standards in imaging. Students will be challenged to think conceptually about their own visual development while acquiring technical skills. The program culminates with a final portfolio showcasing their artistry and original voice.

For additional questions email

Faculty Bios