A group of 25 at-risk students has been selected for a program at Santa Monica College geared toward creating promotional spots for television shows and films.

The initiative, Promo Pathway, which was launched Monday, Jan. 3, is a partnership between the South Bay Center for Counseling and PromaxBDA, an association of broadcast promotion and marketing professionals.

The students, 14 of whom are already at SMC, come from areas such as Compton, Wilmington and East Los Angeles, said Jonathan Block-Verk, PromaxBDA president and chief executive officer. Block-Verk’s company worked closely with the center to target and recruit the at-risk young people.

“This program will help these young people understand there’s a future in creative ability,” the CEO said. “They can continue to do graffiti or turn their skills into what could be high-paying careers.”

Each of the students has received full scholarships to cover the fees, as well as equipment, transportation and childcare.

At the end of the one-year program, the graduates will earn a promotion writer/producer/editor certificate and could potentially enter jobs with a starting salary range of $50,000 to $80,000 a year, SMC officials said.

“I’m tremendously excited about this new program,” said Frank Dawson, chair of the SMC Communication Department and a former promotional writer/producer at CBS and NBC. “This is a great opportunity for the college and the students who will have a shot at getting some great jobs in the industry.”

The program is divided into four terms. The first term, a six-week session that ends Feb. 10, will feature basic math and English workshops that are presented in the context of the entertainment media industry.

The remaining terms will cover a wide range of skills, including principles of project management, digital video fundamentals, and promo writing and production. Paid industry internships are a key component of the program.

Promo Pathway grew out of a desire by PromaxBDA to recruit young people from high-risk areas of Los Angeles into the field.

Using the counseling center’s Career Pathways Program as its model, PromaxBDA, a nonprofit association for promotion and marketing professionals working in broadcast media, assembled an advisory board of top professionals in broadcast media and entertainment and studied the feasibility of starting such a program.

PromaxBDA partnered with the South Bay center to secure funding from the Every Child Foundation and a state grant.

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