Nichole Pinkard, visiting associate professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), recently received a Common Sense Media Award for her groundbreaking work in using digital media to boost literacy and create tech-savvy communicators among underprivileged urban youth.
Pinkard was recognized for Outstanding Commitment to Creativity and Youth at a Feb. 25 ceremony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving families’ experiences with media and entertainment, recognized four honorees, including legendary Hollywood filmmaker George Lucas.
The recognition stemmed largely from Pinkard’s work with Digital Youth Network (DYN), a digital literacy program that creates opportunities for young people to engage in learning environments that span both in-school and out-of-school experiences. DYN was launched in 2006 with a $1.6 million grant from the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation as part of its five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative. The Common Sense Media Award is the most recent of Pinkard’s accolades, which include recognition from Chicago Public Radio as one of Chicago’s Global Visionaries.
Pinkard, who joined CDM in January, is creating a certification program that will expand the reach and impact of DYN.
“This year, Common Sense Media chose to honor a group of leaders whose visionary ideas are setting the standard for how our kids will both experience and embrace the incredible technology of this brave new media world,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “From inspiring inner city students to use digital media as a form of personal expression and creativity, to establishing the building blocks of a policy that will ensure an entire generation of kids will not only have equal access to these technologies, but also learn how to use them safely, this year’s honorees are truly committed to helping both parents and kids become safe, smart digital citizens.”
Pinkard received the honor from award-winning actress Alfre Woodard, who emceed the ceremony.
“To be conscious, critical consumers of media, people need to know how technology frames what they’re seeing and learning,” said Pinkard. A new digital literacy is emerging. The digitally literate are media producers, and they participate in today’s global conversation. It was a very humbling experience to be at the Kennedy Center receiving this award. The experience strengthened my commitment to the work and my desire to roll up my sleeves and expand the work with my colleagues at DePaul.”
Pinkard also worked with the Chicago Public Library to create YOUmedia, an innovative learning space for high school students. YOUmedia brings together young adults, books, media and institutions throughout the city to state-of-the-art facilities in a first-floor media center at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., Chicago. Prior to joining DePaul, Pinkard worked at the Center for Urban School Improvement at the University of Chicago to boost technical literacy for elementary school students at charter schools on Chicago’s South Side.
CDM Dean David Miller noted, “The Common Sense Media Award shows that the value of Nichole Pinkard’s work is now being recognized on a national stage. Her exciting initiative is a perfect fit with the other socially conscious work we are pursuing at CDM.”
With more than 3,100 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs, CDM is one of the largest colleges of its kind in the nation and offers a wide range of practical and cutting-edge programs that respond to market demands for new technology skills.