Freestyle Academy Students Awarded $3,500 in Grants

Over the summer, non-profit organization DoGoodDocs awarded three grants totaling about $3,500 to seven current and former Freestyle Academy students for their documentaries profiling social issues.

Seniors Helena Steffens and Emma Halliday received a grant of $1,000 for their documentary on the organization There With Care, which provides families of ill children with support for their daily needs. Seniors Gabriel Makower and Lora Maslenitsyna  also received a grant of $1,000 for their documentary examining the lack of government support for adults with disabilities who age out of the educational system.  Many of the services and opportunities offered to disabled individuals as children and teeangers no longer apply when they turn 22.

Los Altos graduates Ellie Vanderlip ‘12 and Sonia Tagare ’13 and senior Nicole Falsetti were awarded $1576 for their documentary about the efforts of Paso Robles farm owners to assimilate their workers into American society.

“It was very satisfying [to get the grant],” Ellie said.  “When I got the grant, I had just finished my first year of college and hadn’t been able to do as much production as when I was at Freestyle…being able to get back into the creative loop again was exciting.”

In past years, the grants were awarded through the annual Social Issues Documentary Film Festival. This year however, DoGoodDocs stopped holding the festival and instead offered current students and former students who placed in one of their past festivals an opportunity to apply for grant money to complete or expand upon a current project.

Students submitted applications with a project outline, film budget, potential interviewees and a shooting schedule. In mid-June, the organization notified the students who received grants and sent checks by mail.

With the money, Helena bought new lenses for her camera while Gabriel purchased a glidecam.

“It makes really steady shots.  You can like run with it and it’ll be really smooth,” Gabriel said.

Helena and Gabriel hope to use their new equipment to develop their documentaries to the best that they can be.

“We’re really excited,” Helena said. “We’ll get to even further improve our films which is great because we did have a lot of time to spend on these films, but always, more time is better to further improve them.”