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The Blackhouse Foundation and Strayer University celebrate diverse talent at Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and filmmakers seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. At the 2020 festival, five of those storytellers were finalists in ScriptED, a nationwide competition to discover a talented, up-and-coming scriptwriter who can help bring real perspectives to Strayer’s criminal justice program.

Donald Dankwa Brooks was awarded first place for his original script which demonstrated a keen awareness of the complex perspectives surrounding criminal justice. He was one of five finalists awarded a trip to the festival in Park City, Utah, to pitch their scripts to a panel of esteemed judges. The judges included representatives from Strayer University, The Blackhouse Foundation, the criminal justice system, and the film and television industry.

In addition to the $10,000 grand prize for winning the contest, Donald also received an additional $15,000 gift from Strayer and an opportunity to be a writer in residence with Strayer Studios—a production team at Strayer dedicated to infusing course curriculum with cinematic content that delivers an engaging learning experience for students.

“It’s exciting to join the Strayer Studios team and bring my concept to life,” said Donald. “I’m proud to be part of this important movement to advance criminal justice learning and spark debate among Strayer students.”

As a writer in residence for Strayer Studios, Donald is currently developing his winning pitch into an animated, interactive learning experience. He will also help create a series of educational videos that pair with criminal justice course curriculum, bringing his unique worldview and winning talent to Strayer students.

“We were impressed with the authentic story Donald told in his script that we believe will spark a sincere debate and better understanding of criminal justice among Strayer University students,” said Brickson Diamond, Chairman of The Blackhouse Foundation. “As we work to elevate and champion diverse talent in film, we hope to continue to partner with education institutions, like Strayer University, to advance storytelling for these new important audiences.”