The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation Announces New Board of Directors and $1.4 Million in Grants to Student Filmmakers

Celebrated producer Lee Miller has been elected as the new President and CEO of The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation, which has awarded $1.4 million in grants to student filmmakers.
The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation announced its new Board of Directors and a milestone $1.4 million awarded through its national Student Grant Program. The program combats the lack of diversity in content and creatives working in the entertainment industry by helping to launch the careers of student filmmakers from currently underrepresented groups. Hollywood veterans donate their time and talent to foster diversity and increase engagement with young content creators.

LOS ANGELES – The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation, which has awarded a milestone $1.4 million to promising students to complete their film, television or new media projects through its national Student Grant Program, has announced an expanded Board of Directors, including newly elected and re-elected officers. The term of office commenced July 1, 2015, for a period of two years. 

The Caucus Foundation Board of Directors are as follows: President and CEO – producer Lee Miller (20 Jerry Lewis MDA telethons); Executive Vice Presidents – Chuck Fries (“Flowers in the Attic”) and producer Jerry Isenberg (“The Clan of the Cave Bear”), Foundation co-founders; First Vice President – Vin Di Bona (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”), a Peabody and four-time Emmy-winning producer; Vice President of The Caucus Foundation Alumni Network (CFAN) Liaison – producer Syd Vinnedge (“The Price Is Right”); Vice President Grants and In-kind Awards – director Jake Rademacher (“Brothers At War”); Vice President Cultural Diversity – producer Gary Grossman (“BBQ with Bobby Flay”), a five-time Primetime Emmy nominee; Treasurer – producer Dennis Doty (“The 75th Annual Academy Awards”); and Secretary – producer Michele Nasraway (“AFV”). The Caucus Chair Norman S. Powell (“24”), an Emmy-nominated producer, is an ex officio member.  

“I am most proud to have been elected president of The Caucus Foundation,” said Miller, whose vast credits include Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards telecasts. “Following in the footsteps of Chuck Fries who has built the Foundation from a dream to its current success is an awesome act to follow. I think the Foundation student awards is one of the great accomplishments of The Caucus and my main objective would be to continue the great work in place and advance the goals of the Foundation.”

Producer Randall P. Dark, director John C. Moffitt and producer Frank von Zerneck were named to a newly created Advisory Board. The alumni network welcomed new CFAN President Karen Pyudik, a 2001 grant recipient who completed her master’s degree at AFI and is currently a producer at 124th Street Films.

The Caucus Foundation combats the lack of diversity in content and creatives working in the entertainment industry by helping to launch the careers of student filmmakers from currently underrepresented groups. Intensive mentoring is provided by the Foundation as grantees make the critical transition from school to the entertainment industry. In the 1980s, more than 80 percent of primetime programming was produced by Caucus members, who offer advice, supervision and support to the new generation of producers, writers and directors.

Awards are made twice a year to an average of 10 students. Most recently, five student filmmakers were selected to receive $17,250 collectively: Alexis Korycinski, AFI, for “The Haircut”; Jesse Gustafson, Columbia University, for “Day 39”; Andrew Ruiz, Columbia University, for “Fish”; Samantha Buck, Columbia University, for “The Mink Catcher”; and Auden Bui, USC, for “The Lost City of Tomorrow.” Grantees are also eligible for annual Caucus Foundation Gold Circle Awards for outstanding student films.

All projects completed with Foundation funding have been featured at film festivals and a remarkable 75 percent of grantee respondents are currently working in the entertainment industry. Students who participated in the grant program found it to be extremely important to their careers. “Winning the grant gave me a great deal of momentum. It can be a very stressful task trying to raise funds for student work, period, but once I received The Caucus Foundation grant, it gave me the confidence to believe in myself and my work,” said Alcee H. Walker, School of Visual Arts, NY. Puja Maewal, UCLA, explained, “The Caucus Foundation grant was a miracle for my film. I shot the movie in India, but before it had been completed, I ran out of money. Luckily, I soon heard that I won The Caucus grant, and I was overjoyed, as it allowed me to finish my film at the quality I felt it deserved. ‘Jaya’ is now helping me launch my career, and The Caucus Foundation has made this all possible.”

The Caucus Foundation has provided $1.4 million in grants, internships and in-kind awards to 142 students since the program was established in 2001. Eligible applicants must demonstrate financial need and be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate, graduate or fellowship program and working to complete a thesis film, television or interactive project for their degree. 

The Caucus Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2000 to promote diversity in the entertainment industry, in terms of both content and personnel behind the camera. The Foundation works toward this goal by helping to launch the professional careers of student filmmakers (television, film and interactive) from groups currently underrepresented in the industry. The Foundation provides women and minority students with a range of services, including awarding grants that defray the costs of completing their student (undergraduate and graduate) thesis films, securing in-kind contributions for these projects, and offering intensive mentoring services by industry professionals who are also Caucus Foundation members.

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Company Name: The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation
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