PhillyCAM launches the nation’s first pre-apprenticeship program in media making

-Courtesy of PhillyCAM

Seven aspiring media creatives from Philadelphia are currently participating in a pre-apprenticeship program for Arts2Work, the first federally-registered National Apprenticeship program in media arts and creative technologies in the country.

A program of the Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, Arts2Work creates pipelines to careers in media entertainment, journalism, advertising, and related fields for artists of color, women, youth, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and those experiencing economic instability. Arts2Work’s mission is to provide access to creative careers for those traditionally excluded from such opportunities and to ensure equity, inclusion and economic sustainability for creative workers, businesses and organizations.

PhillyCAM — Philadelphia’s award-winning community media center — is the first organization in the country to launch an Arts2Work Pre-Apprenticeship program to prepare young people to enter the workforce as apprentices. Instructors and mentors have been working with seven young people since June.


-Keyssh, she/her/they, 19, Southwest Philadelphia, Blacktivist, Writer, and Photographer
-Shanayah Wyche, she/her, 21, Northwest Philadelphia, Writer and Educator
-Ramses Leonel Montes, they/them, 20, North Philadelphia, Producer
-Myrdéliz Montes, they/them, 18, North Philadelphia, Filmmaker
-Darien Woodard, he/him, 18, Northeast Philadelphia, Director/Writer
-Jade Lewis McFall, she/her, 21, Northeast Philadelphia, Media Maker
-Jasmin Carter, she/her, 19, North Philadelphia, Filmmaker

With support from the US Department of Labor, the Alliance for Media Arts + Culture spent a year getting Arts2Work approved as a federally-registered Apprenticeship Program. Companies who hire Apprentices can qualify for salary and tax subsidies and training grants.

“The media industry is built on a culture of unpaid or low-paid internships,” says Wendy Levy, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We are working to create an inclusive model where talented people with big dreams can find an open door, training, portfolio-building opportunities, an industry mentor who looks like them, and a path to a living wage job where their voice is valued.”

PhillyCAM’s program pivoted to a virtual format during the global pandemic, but it has progressed uninterrupted. Each participant is paired with a mentor — award-winning filmmakers, creative entrepreneurs, producers, and educators — to support their career and personal development.

So far, the Apprentices have created stories on the defunding arts and culture programs, the OccupyPHA movement, the representation of trans individuals in the media, and more. The program is registered in Pennsylvania and made possible with a grant from the PASmart program of the State of Pennsylvania (a statewide movement supporting workforce accountability, readiness and training), along with operating support from the MacArthur Foundation and Adobe. It will conclude on August 27.

“I can think of no better time to be preparing young media creatives of color to enter the workforce as the industry is finally acknowledging the lack of diversity in their ranks. Through this experience the pre-apprentices are developing their voices and refining their professional goals to be ready to transform the industry.” said Gretjen Clausing, PhillyCAM’s Executive Director.

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