Abbott Leadership Institute Youth Media Symposium at Rutgers-Newark Receives 20 Cameras from Panasonic

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(l-r) Raisa Baraka, Assata Baraka, Isis Kirkland, Troy Jasey, Musa Hayes, Gavin Lane, Frankie Walls; photo credit: Ronald Scott
Panasonic Corporation of North America (PNA), through its Office of Corporate Social Responsibility, donated 20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 cameras to the summer Film Academy of the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI) Youth Media Symposium (YMS) at Rutgers University–Newark last month. The total approximate retail value of the donation is $8,000, about $400 per camera.

Founded in 2002, ALI endeavors to increase meaningful civic engagement among parents, youth, and community stakeholders to improve educational outcomes for Newark’s children. In 2006, ALI extended its mission to include the development of advocacy and technical media skills in young people through the YMS summer and afterschool program. The program allows students to develop their voices through the prism of social justice. It also helps them to develop a variety of media skills like filmmaking, photography, journalism, and social media to tell their own stories through their personal perspectives.

With instruction from professionals like Ayana Morris, an Express Newark resident and owner of Leopard Stripes Productions, YMS productions have received critical acclaim. Last year, the students brought home the Newark International Film Festival’s “Best Youth Series” award. In 2017, they clinched the “Best Youth Film” award.
Prior to the donation, more than a dozen students in the summer Film Academy had to share two camcorders. “Now, each student operates his or her own camera for an even more rewarding hands-on experience,” stated Kaleena Berryman, ALI’s executive director. “This contribution to our mission to develop a generation of community storytellers and leaders is a game changer.”

Abbott Leadership Institute Youth Media Symposium 2019 Summer Film Academy Participants;
photo credit: Ronald Scott
The Film Academy students raved about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300. “Its singular lens has 24x zoom (25-600mm) with full zoom range,” commented Frankie Walls, a YMS alumna and current teacher’s assistant. This makes Walls’s fourth summer in the program. The Newark resident, who attended high school at West Nottingham Academy, a boarding school in Maryland, studies film at Ithaca College.
“These are good, high-quality cameras,” said Rabi’ah Hayes, a fifth-year veteran of YMS and a rising senior who is home-schooled. She noted that the cameras, which are capable of 4K recording, are the best they have worked with.
While many of the students aspire to be the next Jordan Peele or Ava DuVernay, some are content to just learn the mechanics of the camera. “I want to be an actor,” West Side High rising freshman Atayveya Heath shared, “but I also want to know how to work a camera.” This is Heath’s first summer in YMS. She is one of five students in the summer Film Academy who graduated from the Middle School YMS Academy at Belmont Runyon Elementary School.
“It is an honor to provide students of the Abbott Leadership Institute Youth Media Symposium with our Panasonic LUMIX cameras. The ALI’s exploration of diverse topics, including educational equity, helps foster important community conversations. We hope this contribution supports the continued development of a generation of storytellers and leaders,” said Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the Office of Corporate Social Responsibility and Panasonic Foundation. This is the first time PNA has made a donation of this kind to Rutgers University.
Gavin Lane; photo credit: Ronald Scott
About the Abbott Leadership Institute
The mission of the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI) at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) is to develop informed and effective advocates for Newark's public schools by empowering parents, students, educators, and stakeholders with information about education policy, and knowledge of effective methods for civic engagement and leadership in school reform. The Youth Media Symposium (YMS), ALI’s after-school youth development program, develops youth leaders in schools and the community by introducing Newark students, ages 13-18, to education advocacy, historical literacy, and the art of using digital media technology as a tool for social change. In 2015, the students of YMS launched their College Success Centers, safe and supportive spaces for students and families to receive guidance and support while preparing for college. ALI’s newest initiative, New-Ark Leaders of Health, is a two-year fellowship program aimed to develop youth leaders to work to improve health outcomes for residents of the city.
About Rutgers University–Newark
Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) is a diverse, urban, public research university that is an anchor institution in New Jersey’s cultural capital.  More than 13,000 students are currently enrolled at its 38-acre campus in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, the Rutgers Law School – Newark, the School of Criminal Justice, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration. RU-N is exceptionally well positioned to fulfill higher education’s promise as an engine of discovery, innovation, and social mobility. It has a remarkable legacy of producing high-impact scholarship that is connected to the great questions and challenges of the world. It has the right mix of disciplines and interdisciplinary centers and institutes to take on those questions and challenges. It is in and of a city and region where its work on local challenges undertaken with partners from many sectors resonates powerfully throughout our urbanizing world. Most importantly, RU-N brings an incredible diversity of people to this work—students, faculty, staff, and community partners—making it more innovative, more creative, more engaging, and more relevant for our time and the times ahead. For more information, please visit

About Panasonic Corporation of North America     
Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America is committed to creating a better life and a better world by enabling its business-to-business customers through innovations in Sustainable Energy, Immersive Entertainment, Integrated Supply Chains and Mobility Solutions. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation. One of Interbrand's Top 100 Best Global Brands of 2018, Panasonic is a leading technology partner and integrator to businesses, government agencies and consumers across the region. Learn more about Panasonic's ideas and innovations at