The CHA+DePaul Youth Partnership


Since 2016, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has partnered with DePaul’s Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media to offer youth in public housing valuable skills in cinema, game and graphic design. Through the six-week summer intensives, high school-aged students are trained by our award-winning faculty, mentored by our graduate students, visited by industry guest speakers, and taken on a number of experiential field trips to get inspired by our city’s rich arts culture. At the core, the programs are designed to provide new economic pathways for minority youth and to provide them with the tools to share their voices with the world.

Our Programs

student and instructor with a handheld camera

Become a Filmmaker

Sixteen female-identifying youth learn all aspects of filmmaking from award-winning faculty and top graduate students within DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts. The program fosters new economic pathways and helps raise awareness on the social challenges they face.

students using a computer lab

Game & Graphic Design

Ten youth are selected to explore gaming and graphic design from expert game designer, Allen Turner, faculty instructor within DePaul University’s School of Design. Participants learn to use a variety of industry-relevant digital platforms and technologies, develop creative expression, and provide a voice for their experiences and unique perspectives.

two students discussing with an instructor

Movie & TV Scripts 101

Twelve youth are invited to learn how to write an original screenplay from accomplished screenwriters within DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts. Participants will analyze a series of films studying screenplay format, visual writing style, scene craft, story structure, character development and dialogue. The program culminates with each participant writing their own short movie/tv script.

Extended Outreach

Currently, our programs operate through DePaul’s in-kind donations of classrooms, editing labs, and equipment. The remaining summer program budget is provided by CHA and their nonprofit partner, Springboard to Success.

In 2021, Elevated Films Chicago joined forces to extend access to filmmaking as both an artistic and economic pathway for CHA youth. Their support provides year-round film screenings, mentorship, networking opportunities and exposure to Chicago’s premier arts and culture.

If your organization would like to make a tax-deductible gift to ensure our rich programming continues, we invite you to reach out!   Inquire About Becoming a Sponsor

Film Festivals & Awards

Rise Up

short documentary category

  • Windy City International Film Festival, Chicago, IL
    Winner, Rising Voices Award, July 2017
  • Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, New York, NY
    Winner, Best Documentary, October 2017
    *Academy Award Qualifying*


short documentary category

  • Black Maria Film Festival
    Winner, Jury Award, November 2018
  • Currently in consideration at 7 festivals nationwide.

Other Film Festival Screenings

  • Global Girls Film Festival, (July 2017), Chicago, IL
  • DC Black Film Festival (August 2017), Washington DC
  • Black Harvest Film Festival “Allstate Youth Showcase” (August 2017), Chicago, IL
  • Girls Don’t Cry - Persephone’s Daughters Film Division (Accepted), St. Paul, MN
  • Twin Cities Black Film Festival (October 2017), Minnesota
  • Harbour Global Girls Film Festival (December 2017), Chicago

Press Links

NBC Chicago, Making a Difference | June 27, 2017

Summer Program Aims to Help Kids in Public Housing student film crew interviewing a young adult

Chaz’s Journal on | July 11, 2017

CHA Documentary Empowers Future Filmmakers Two teens working on computers

Comcast Newsmakers Segment | August 2019

Increasing Access to Film Industryfemale student with camera