This weekend at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™, The Walt Disney Company announced the creation of the “Disney Storytellers Fund” at Howard University, a historically Black university.
What is the Fund?
The Disney Storytellers Fund at Howard University will provide stipends over a five-year period for student projects focused on storytelling across a variety of media, including: animation, digital design, gaming, journalism, live action, performing arts, product design, visual design, virtual reality, and more.
“Across Disney’s brands, we are working to amplify underrepresented voices and untold stories,” said Jennifer Cohen, executive vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility, The Walt Disney Company.
“The Disney Storytellers Fund at Howard will help us support students and the innovation and creativity that the university has cultivated for more than 150 years. We are excited to help the next generation of Black storytellers bring their ideas to life.”
What It Will Do
It will create opportunities for historically underrepresented students to have future careers as storytellers and innovators in media and entertainment.
Disney will also provide access to speakers, mentors, and internships to students in the program to spark interest in these fields and to help them build the skills necessary for a future career in entertainment.
The Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts
Howard University is also home to the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, named for the actor who played T’Challa in “Black Panther” and other Marvel movies.
In addition to the Disney Storytellers Fund, Disney will fund the development of a creative collaborative space that will be housed inside the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, and its Cathy Hughes School of Communication, at Howard University.
“Our students at the College of Fine Arts find their creative expression in many ways—in the performing arts, in animation, in the design of the products that we use in life,” said actress Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.
“The Disney Storytellers Fund is a great support for our emerging artists as they explore and develop their potential within and across disciplines.”
Helping Future Storytellers
Through social investments and collaborations like these, Disney is increasing access to careers in storytelling and innovation for those who have been historically underrepresented.
From arts and STEM programs for school-age children to scholarships, storytelling, and technical skills-building programs for teens and young adults, Disney says it is helping today’s youth to pursue their dreams, build their talents and skills, and become who they imagine they can be.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges, located in Washington, D.C.
The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows, and more than 165 Fulbright recipients.
The College of Fine Arts was named in honor of alumnus Chadwick Boseman in 2018, who graduated from Howard in 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in directing.
Boseman passed from cancer in 2020.
Disney at ESSENCE Fest
The Walt Disney Company is one of the main sponsors of this year’s ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, LA.
In addition to reaching the festival’s audience, Disney is using the event to release news about upcoming projects, like the conversion of the U.S. “Splash Mountain” attractions to “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.”