The WNET Group’s Community Engagement department develops and expands lasting, productive partnerships with local governments, educators, nonprofits and public institutions to build a dialogue contributing to The WNET Group’s programming and betterment of local communities. In FY21, the public programs and screenings led by Community Engagement reached 8,500+ attendees. The team also managed six national station engagement initiatives – for American Masters documentaries on Mae West, Helen Keller and Oliver Sacks and films A More or Less Perfect Union and Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten.
In Fall 2020, The WNET Group’s Community Engagement team took a look at justice in the United States with two virtual public conversations. “What Does Justice Look Like?” explored whether justice is possible in the face of legislative barriers and discussed how democracy can be made stronger by those most marginalized. More than 200 guests nationwide joined THIRTEEN and its partner, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Next, the Community Engagement team collaborated with Chasing the Dream to welcome more than 100 people to Criminal Justice in America: A WNET Summit. Panelists at the virtual event spoke about criminal justice issues, policies and ideas for creating lasting change with thought leaders from across the U.S.
On the first anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, The WNET Group held a town hall about creating justice and recovery. Moderated by Amanpour and Company‘s Michel Martin, The Space Between Stillness And Action welcomed panelists Michael Mwenso, the Rev. Kaji S. Douša, Dr. Danielle Hairston, and Vincent Southerland who spoke about how the murders of Floyd in 2020 and Duante Wright in 2021 are understood and met by communities at the front lines of experiencing and responding to oppression. Structural racism continued to be examined with New American Dream, a five week series of virtual town halls.
PBS American Portrait — the national digital-first multiplatform storytelling project that asked “What does it really mean to be an American today?” — wrapped up its year-long initiative with a four-part documentary series and public art installation in New York City. In December, the Community Engagement team held a forum that examined community vulnerability and sustainability across New York City through conversation with community leaders and PBS American Portrait submissions.
What’s next? In June 2021, The WNET Group began developing American Graduate: Path to the Future, a developing multiplatform project that will help youth in diverse communities across America explore and prepare for high-demand careers in the post-COVID-19 economy.