History

Since its founding in 1974, CTVN has utilized media as an educational tool to improve the education, quality of life, and opportunities available to underserved youth in Chicago.

Executive Director Denise Zaccardi originally created CTVN as a special project of the Alternative Schools Network and in 1980 CTVN incorporated as an independent tax-exempt nonprofit organization.Over 10,000 of Chicago’s at-risk youth have participated in CTVN’s media literacy and video production programs, creating insightful videos for their peers and leaving behind a rich legacy.
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The nearly 500 videos that make up CTVN’s media library form a vibrant and diverse digital catalogue composed of authentic youth voices. The library serves as a valuable teaching resource and offers a history not only of youth media in America but community histories of Chicago rarely seen elsewhere. Every year, new CTVN youth producers add their voices to this unique collection, producing dozens of videos that are broadcast in Chicago and New York City, made available online, and screened in film festivals across the country.

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Over three decades, CTVN has developed a technology and arts curriculum that empowers urban youth with a platform for self-representation while building self-esteem, community awareness, and intellectual curiosity. Video—our primary educational tool—is taught through hands-on, interdisciplinary, student- and problem-centered programming. This accessible and engaging medium captures the attention of our focus age group in an information society with a digital landscape dominated by visual media.As applied by CTVN’s model curriculum, digital video continuously proves to enhance academic learning, which further develops essential skills that will lead to success in other subjects and endeavors.