During Black History Month, Instagram has been highlighting and promoting short-form content as part of its years-long #ShareBlackStories initiative. The platform is taking it a step further by enlisting Queen & Slim filmmaker Melina Matsoukas and the talent from Howard University for a new program, Instagram x Share Black Stories “Future First” Reels Challenge.

The program, now active, will feature selected emerging student storytellers from Howard’s department of media, journalism and film, each of whom will receive a $10,000 production stipend to support costs associated with mounting new work. The students will be mentored by Matsoukas and Howard advisors and educators. Furthermore, the storytellers will have the opportunity to have their content earmarked for sharing across @Instagram and other channels on the platform.

“Having the ability to create in these spaces and have hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, immediately be able to see, react, respond and be affected by your work is so powerful,” Matsoukas explained. “The internet and social media have had a significant impact on the world of media and entertainment, and I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity to work with a historic institution like Howard University, and the team at Instagram, to mentor the next generation of artists, to share what I’ve learned, and to learn from them, too.”

Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders called the program an “awesome opportunity” for students. “It provides a forum to showcase the creativity of our talented students to shine through the Black stories they create.”

Per the university, the challenge is only open to current Howard media, journalism and film students.


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