Since its founding in 1974, the Community TV Network (CTVN) has utilized media as a tool with which to improve the education, opportunities, and quality of life 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 was incorporated as an independent non- profit organization. For 4 decades, Denise and others have developed a digital arts curriculum that builds self-esteem, community awareness, and artistic curiosity among Chicago’s urban youth. 

In 1986, CTVN created Hard Cover, a local cable news show, run by students for students. Since then, Hard Cover has amassed a vibrant digital catalogue composed of many diverse, young voices. Every year, new CTVN students join the project, adding their voices to their media library, which serves as a valuable teaching resource and offers a history, not only of youth media, but of many raw histories of Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods. 

Today, at CTVN, modern video is taught through hands-on interdisciplinary classes that frame the medium as a tool for both the students and their communities. Over 10,000 Chicago students have participated in CTVN’s media literacy and video production programs since our founding. Hard Cover has since become the longest running student-run TV show in Chicago. 


Community TV Network, a leader in student-produced media, empowers low-income students in Chicago by engaging them in the creative and collaborative process of modern video production. CTVN strives to promote youth voices and positive community development. To us, this means raising awareness of meaningful education and economic viability within Chicago’s urban communities. Our programs give youth the awareness, motivation, and tools they need to tell their stories, as well as create positive change in their neighborhoods. 

Core Values: 

I’d like to change the order of these to: Stimulate —> Engage —> Empower —> Promote 

STIMULATE our students’ creativity by introducing the to a variety of historically influential student films and the rich history that CTVN has culminated over its forty-plus years. 

ENGAGE with our students’ personal interests and struggles, in an effort to catalyze the development of their own artistic voices. 

EMPOWER our students with the technical skills to tell stories of their own, as well as the stories of their community, within the medium of modern digital video. 

PROMOTE our students’ work during their time at CTVN and afterwards, in hopes of creating a network of socially conscious artists working towards a brighter future for everyone. 



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