PRESS RELEASE: Winners Announced for Benevolent Media Pitch Night

About 100 people attended the inaugural Benevolent Media Pitch Night, hosted at nclud, a web design studio in Washington, D.C. Photo by Erica Schlaikjer.

Cash Prizes to Support Multimedia Projects on Breast Cancer Awareness and Faith-Based Community Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 8, 2012) – Benevolent Media, a media and events company focused on celebrating storytelling and design for social good, today announced the winners of the inaugural Benevolent Media Pitch Night, held on November 5.

The $2,000 Grand Prize was awarded to documentary filmmaker Chithra Jeyaram, the founder and creative director of Real Talkies. The funds will be used to build the website for “1001 Breast Cancer Nights,” an online video portal to share, discuss and experience stories of breast cancer.

“It will be an immensely powerful, empathetic and healing space,” said Jeyaram, whose project aims to increase global breast cancer awareness. Each year, approximately 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide.

“It’s gratifying to feel that [my project] resonates with people,” added Jeyaram, who gave up a career in physical therapy to become a filmmaker. “This is a really personal issue for me.”

Jeyaram said she was 22 when she discovered a lump in her right breast. A biopsy indiciated that it was a benign tumor. “Every time I am due for these diagnostic tests, I have this inexplicable gripping fear of an impending breast cancer diagnosis,” Jeyaram wrote in her pitch proposal. “Because of these experiences, making a film about some aspect of breast cancer was always on the horizon for me.”

She said she plans to organize a mini “hackathon” to design the website, present it at cancer conferences next year to leverage additional funding and build new partnerships, and, finally, conduct filmmaking workshops and provide cameras to help women and their families create new video content for the website. The project is expected to commence in 2013, with a projected completion in 2016.

The winner of the $335 People’s Choice Award, voted on by the audience and funded using a portion of the money pooled from the price of admission, was Jack Gordon, the producer of Faith in Action DC. His multimedia project documents and celebrates the community service and social justice efforts of diverse people of faith throughout the Washington, D.C. region.

Faith in Action DC will use the funds to expand its website and “convert it from a blog-style format to more of a nonlinear format that encourages user participation, so people can upload their own stories and photos,” Gordon said.

The target audience for the website is people of faith who live in the D.C. region.

“This audience is intentionally broad so that people of whatever religious, spiritual, or cultural background can engage with and feel inspired by the examples they see in the images and stories of neighbors serving their community,” Gordon wrote in his pitch proposal.

Faith in Action DC is currently planning a summit for young adult faith leaders in February 2013. Gordon said he welcomes support from volunteers interested in interfaith action, as well as experienced web developers, to help carry over the conversation from “physical, real-time, face-to-face” to social media, especially on Twitter.

The pitch night included 3-minute presentations from 12 other finalists:

  • Abigail Baxendale, Grief Sucks
  • Arianne Neigh, The Global Archive Project
  • Brian R. Weinberg, GAMECHANGERS (powered by blendedprofit.com)
  • Daniel Bradley, Dreams Work Inc presents #ourVIEW
  • Eddie B. Ellis, Jr., Kool Kids Digital Story Telling Project
  • Jami Freyer, Guardians of the City
  • Ericha Gudmastad & Mark Gudmastad, Countering Myths about Albinism in Tanzania
  • Gregg Deal, The Romantic Nationalism Project
  • Linda Ann Walters, The Messenger Bag Project
  • Michael Owen, Baltimore Love Project
  • Rylan Peery, Stories for Peace
  • Shannon Carroll, A Civil Remedy

Finalists were rated on clarity, feasibility, passion and potential for impact. The panel of judges included leading experts in communications, design and technology for social impact. They included Raj Aggarwal of ProvocKristen Argenio of Ideal DesignWilliam (Bill) Colgrove ofThreespotAngelica Das of American University’s Center for Social MediaMichaela Hackner of Forum One CommunicationsAmy Hartzler of Free RangeAusten Levihn-Coon of Fission Strategy; and Brandon Schmittling of Weber Shandwick.

The pitch night was hosted at nclud, a creative web design agency in Dupont Circle.

The event was scheduled as part of Digital Capital Week (DCWEEK), a 10-day festival in the nation’s capital focused on bringing together designers, developers, entrepreneurs and social innovators of all kinds. Benevolent Media hosted its first annual festival during DCWEEK 2011.

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About Benevolent Media

Benevolent Media is a media and events company dedicated to celebrating storytelling and design for good. We do this through editorial content on our website, monthly community events, and an annual festival. We focus on people, organizations and projects that compel audiences to care about a cause, take action on an issue, or promote a point of view through strategic and inspiring multimedia.

For more information visit: http://www.benevolentmedia.org

Erica Schlaikjer

About the Author Erica Schlaikjer

Erica Schlaikjer is the Creator and Curator of Benevolent Media. She lives in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @benevolentmedia and @eschlaik.

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