Hear Me 101 Screening May 22, 2014

About 70 students, educators, parents, administrators and community members filled Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room on May 22 for the 3rd annual Hear Me 101 Screening. 

The evening kicked off with light refreshments, food, and music from Professor ASAP of Tracksploitation.  The atmosphere was lively, as students were proud to share their work and others excited to watch.   The audience took their seats at 6:30 for documentaries from Clairton High School, McKeesport Technology Center, Steel Valley High School, the F.U.S.E. after school program, which includes students from Wilkinsburg High School and Imani Christian Academy and special guest, Jay Fyre from Philadelphia.

 Click here to watch the documentaries! (youtube link)

Topic Selection:

Students from McKeesport brainstormed and discussed a variety of topics before settling on three.  The focused on "Hip-hop in Education," "Video Gaming for Learning", and "Depression."  Students at Clairton selected two topics:  "Access to Technology Education," and "Girls Bullying."  The students gave a fresh perspective to bullying by focusing on bullying among middle schools girls.  The Steel Valley TFIM club wanted to explore ways that students are affected by "success" and "failure."  After wrestling with these ideas, they settled on tackling the school ratings systems by pointing out how it affects students, and adding more complex layers to the story of the 437-ranked school. 

A panel discussion followed the films and included panelists Emmai Alaquiva of Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., Amma Ababio, a student member of TeenBloc, and Patrick Dowd from Allies for Children.  Each panelist was given an opportunity to respond to the thought-provoking media, education and social questions posed by moderator, teacher and publisher Michelle King.  The discussion continued with participation and questions from the audience.

Alaquiva focused on building professional relationships, encouraging students to “make more deposits than withdrawals;” as he compared relationships to bank accounts.  He shared his story from homelessness to becoming and Emmy Award Winning producer, entrepreneur and mentor; and told students, “When you think outside the box, you change what’s in it.”

The youngest panelist, Amma Ababio reassured the students that their videos will make a difference and hailed the documentaries as part of a new civil rights movement.  She complemented the filmmakers on their dedication and critical thinking to address, and take steps to make positive change in their schools and communities.

(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

As a former City-Councilman, Patrick Dowd was able to frame the conversation in a policy-driven manner.  He addressed how the PA ranking system, which ranked Steel Valley at 437, was most likely intended to help schools by addressing needs, but instead hurt the image lower ranking schools.  He noted that the documentaries are important because they can show policy makers the real impact of their policies and become a catalyst for change.

At the end of the night, the Hear Me 101 interns were announced.  The interns were chosen out of those who submitted applications to earn a spot as paid staff members of Hear Me to work on building awareness and support for their films.  The interns are as follows: 

Denis McCormick from Steel Valley, Juanita Suber from McKeesport, and Jeffrey McDonald from Clairton.  

Look for more from the interns this summer.  Hear Me and our partners would like to thank everyone who came out to the screening and everyone who helped make the videos possible!  

Share your pictures and thoughts on the screening:  @hear_me_project #hearme101 

Hear Me Goes to ALEC to Record Student Interviews

This blog was reposted from The Brashear Kids Association Blog, which can be found here:  http://www.brashearkids.com/2014/05/hear-me-comes-to-alec-to-record-student.html

Hear Me Comes to ALEC to Record Student Interviews

Hear Me, an initiative of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, came to the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center (ALEC) to record our students' thoughts about the Pittsburgh Police.  ALEC is located next door to the Zone 3 Police Station. Interactions with the police are part of our students' daily lives. 

Through this collaborative campaign with Allies for Children, students from all over the city of Pittsburgh had the opportunity to record their responses to such questions as, "What is the job of a police officer?" and "How would you describe your relationship with police officers?"  Once all the responses are recorded and edited, Hear Me will present them to Mayor William Peduto to help inform the selection of the new Chief of Police.  

Students at ALEC listened to their interviews  and then interviewed one another.  They had such a great time sharing their stories with Jess and Ryan of Hear Me, and we can't wait to share the final edit. 

Hear Me is a collaborative network of community organizations, institutions, businesses and foundations working together to provide a better future for our kids. Through this project, our students have had a chance to share their voice with a wider audience and participate in the democratic process.  To learn more, check out their website.

- Renee

Community Responses to the Hear Me Display at Square Café

The Hear Me display at Square Café has evoked over 60 unique responses from community members since we installed it in May.

The display features rotating stories from a group of passionate students who are committed to improving their education through the F.U.S.E. program, which was started by a Wilkinsburg high school teacher to give students additional learning opportunities outside the classroom. 

F.U.S.E. worked with Hear Me to record the students’ stories and partnered us with Square Café, a local restaurant who is committed to serving the community. The powerful stories and the display have become a topic of discussion in the café.

It currently features a story form Ashley, a 17-year-old Wilkinsburg High School Student, and asks the question: “How can we help students and administrators better understand each other?”


Safety at Wilkinsburg High School  By Ashley, 17

Community responses to Ashley's story:



We update the story and the question every 2 months.  

Previous stories include Sophia's, accompanied by the same question:

(“How can we help students and administrators better understand each other?”)


My neighborhood  By Sophia , 16

Community responses:



and Tatiyana's, along with the question "Who is responsible for the learning environment in schools?" 

My School  By Tatiyana , 17

Community Responses:




To stay up-to-date with Hear Me displays and community responses, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HearMeProject.

For more information or to learn how you can host a display, please email Hoffman.ryan8@gmail.com.


Ryan Hoffman Project Coordinator, Hear Me 

Hear Me 101 films premiere!

The first ever Hear Me 101 youth advocacy videos premiered its videos to a crowd of approximately 75 on Sunday July 15 at CCAC. 


Students, friends and families gathered for hors d’oeuvres and conversation to celebrate their achievements.   Guests had a chance to listen to Hear Me 101 stories in CanEx and read up on the projects’ treatments in the lobby and meet some of the young filmmakers from Clairton City High School, McKeesport Area High School, Steel Valley Senior High School, and Woodland Hills High School.


Representatives from the Hear Me project talked about the students’ journey making short documentaries from concept to final cut.  We shared that we learned how warm and hospitable their schools and communities really are and that through the whole Hear Me 101 program, we hope that these students can begin the process of fighting negative stereotypes of their schools.


Steel Valley student Katie Miller introduced her group's topic:  Does where you grow up determine your chances of success?  "This question led to more questions and more questions."  Clairton student Marcaysia Dawkins' group wanted everyone to see that "Clairton always comes together as a big family."




Congratulations to all these young filmmakers!  Films can be seen at http://www.hear-me.net/ hearme_101.

What's new with F.U.S.E??

Meeting the FUSE students was a great experience. They showed me that some people actually care for their neighborhood & schools. In this particular case, the neighborhood was Wilkinsburg. FUSE had a lot of things to bring to the table that I would of never guessed. The individual students are your everyday teens. They speak up for what they feel is right and Hear Me admires that about them. Wilkinsburg High School and neighborhood is really not the best area for most people, but FUSE will not tolerate the feeling of being swept under the rug. They're proud of where they live, and it's not always about moving away from the problem; there's always an alternitive to that. In the eyes of FUSE, they want to stay in Wilkinsburg & work hard to improve their current situation. FUSE shows us that you can always try and make a difference where you live. School budget cuts really wasn't helping the situation of Wilkinsburg High School. The students need something to look forward to, such as extra-curricular activities & field trips. We at Hear Me have always been a stepping stool for voices to be heard, and we have recorded strong stories from the these students. FUSE has been at this for 6 months and already making a major point. The Hear Me crew supports FUSE and everyone in it.

For more information about FUSE, go to www.fusepgh.org

Hear what these students have to say about Wilkinsburg School District at http://www.hear-me.net/portfolios/23


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."


Wilkinsburg Holiday Event

In response to the students from Wilkinsburg who came to Carnegie Mellon last spring, Hear Me hosted a holiday decoration ceremony in Wilkinsburg on December 1st.   About 25 middle and high school students from the Wilkinsburg School district decorated the Wilkinsburg Municipal Building and tree at the historic Wilkinsburg train station.  Each of the students contributed to a 6-foot-wide “Wilkinsburg Wishes” banner that included their hopes for positive change in their community.  The banner is hanging in front of the Municipal Building for the holiday season.  The event is part of an ongoing community service project through Hear Me, the Wilkinsburg Borough Council and the Wilkinsburg School District.

Here are the stories that inspired the event: 


Hear Me 101

CREATE LAb launched Hear Me 101 in Fall 2011 by partnering with Consortium for Public Education, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

Hear Me 101 is a year-long social advocacy video program piloted with 4 regional school districts. 

Read more at:





We’ve partnered up with the Consortium for Public Education, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project to launch the pilot program of Hear Me 101!

Through the program, we work directly with students through a series of hands-on workshops that teach writing, technical, communication and media skills to youth.  The kids voice their thoughts and opinions on current social issues centered on community and education.   Workshops focus on:

Student groups will produce video pieces to voice their messages publicly to help promote and inspire social change.

The Hear Me 101 team has already met with schools in Clairton, Mckeesport, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills.  The students are enthralled by the idea of creating positive change in their communities!

Below are a couple pictures from Clairton! 

HearMe 101 is a sponsored program of The Heinz Endowments.

Check back for more updates on Hear Me 101.  For more information about the program, visit www.hear-me.net or email hear.me.info@gmail.com.  


Fall Activities

There is a lot going on at Hear Me this fall.

 We are preparing to launch Hear Me 101, which is exciting for us, our partners and participating schools.  

On Monday, we met with Children's hospital to talk about a potential partnership.  Jess and Ryan toured the hospital.  It was a wonderful facility filled with art and activities for kids and adults.  We talked about displays, recording and Can Pals in the hospital.  We hope to hear back from them within the month.

We are currently finishing our display for Big Dog Coffee in the south side.  It will feature 4 CanEx boxes along with large Can Pals artwork.  We will encourage participants to give us feedback with response cards.  The owners of Big Dog fully support the project and we anticipate a great partnership!

In the social media realm, Hear Me is giving away free T-Shirts on Facebook.  Please "like" our page and register to win a free T-Shirt ( they're actually really nice!)

Seven Springs' Story Walk

We had a great time at Seven Springs’ Story Walk last weekend!

The weather was fantastic, the turnout was high and everyone we met was excited about the project.

We gave away about 15 personalized CanPals cans to kids.  We recorded their stories, transferred them to audio chips and put them in cans within minutes.  The kids made their own labels for the cans and we gave them free Hear Me T-shirts for participating.  We even had one group of siblings make a Hear Me video!

We worked in collaboration with David Pribish from PAEYC, who generously directed spectators towards the Hear Me tent.

We also the enjoyed the other groups and activities at Story Walk.

Children's books like "Where the Wild Things Are," and "Who's Shoes?" were read out loud at different stations around event.  There were giant cutouts of characters from the books as well as activities for kids.

Afterwards, we all got to experience Seven Springs’ alpine slide, which was a terrifying ride up for some but a fun ride down for everyone!