Community Spotlight “Enfoque”: An Interview with a Bay Area Inspire Awardee

At the start of 2016, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF) awarded grants to eight young Bay Area residents with fresh ideas for building better communities. These awards were made possible through the Bay Area Inspire Awards, which provides $10,000 grants to 18-30 year olds living in San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo Counties. Below is an interview with one of these awardees, Ana Avendano, who used her award to build a coalition of local, self-taught artists (such as videographers and photographers) to provide free or affordable services to small nonprofits.

PVF: Tell us about your project. What inspired you to launch it?

Ana: I have a passion for media-making and found myself applying this passion and skill by volunteering with various nonprofits in the Bay Area. I would work with them to create short documentaries and profile pieces to help them with their marketing and at the same time tell their story and what they do for the communities. As a self-taught media maker, one of the challenges is finding affordable media equipment and access to resources and support. I also noticed that many nonprofits also lack the resources to work with professional media makers. In volunteering, I was helping them in their media and storytelling needs, and they were helping me in developing my skills and my professional portfolio.

PVF: Tell us about some of your project accomplishments to date.

Ana: To date, Enfoque Coalition is led by eight community leaders and media makers. Each of us has a unique skill and artistry. Our goal is to develop Enfoque as a community media resource for both aspiring media professionals and community organizations. We have partnered with three organizations thus far and have completed a total of eight video projects as a coalition. We were also featured in Redwood City’s Spectrum Magazine as an up-and-coming community-led initiative! In December, we hosted a community dialogue to celebrate art as well as hear from community members. We asked for feedback and learned about what they would like to see from local media-based projects. This feedback will help drive how we move forward in the development of Enfoque.

PVF: What are the next steps for your project?

Ana: Enfoque Coalition members are now developing the project as a community-led initiative to operate under an established community organization. We have partnered with PAL, Redwood City, where we will launch our media lab, open our doors for aspiring media makers, and begin officially partnering with other nonprofits and small businesses to offer our media services, including training. We plan to launch a fundraising campaign in early spring and seek out and create an advisory board.

PVF: What is your hope with how this project will create change in the community?

Ana: Enfoque’s mission is to preserve the power of art in our community by empowering and cultivating the next generation of local aspiring professional media makers. This vision can be adopted in other communities as well.

PVF: What would you like donors to know about funding community projects led by young people like yourself?

Ana: Funding the next generation of young professionals means funding projects that are led with passion and creativity, projects that are grounded in the community, and projects with social justice at the core. Especially in this time, a lot of social injustice is surfacing, and young people are taking action. We want to see positive change in our community, and we have a lot of creative ideas and solutions.  When someone believes in our passion, that gives us the confidence to push these ideas forward.

PVF: Anything else you would like our readers to know?

Ana: You can learn more about our work at www.enfoqueproject.org.

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