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A film intern and her mentor filming.

Moving the Needle

Mike and Diane Christian support student storytelling for the common good

A documentary about whales. A multimedia story about how fashion can empower young women overcoming injustice. A social media campaign for Healing Justice, Santa Barbara’s local chapter of Black Lives Matter. These are just a few of the prosocial projects created by students in UC Santa Barbara’s Impact Media Internship program, supported by Mike and Diane Christian of Someone Else’s Child Foundation.

Now in its third year, the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Impact Media Internship program combines a rigorous classroom education with community partnerships. Students first complete a four-unit spring term course in the Department of Film and Media Studies. The course teaches students the multi-platform storytelling skills and strategies necessary to create professional assets that influence behavior, drive innovation and promote positive outcomes. Students then apply their skills to help nonprofits promote their work through compelling, timely stories.

The Christians embraced their partnership with UC Santa Barbara. Mike suggested that the internships take place at nonprofits rather than businesses so that students could give back to the community. This circular approach aligned with the foundation’s pillar of economic justice by providing opportunities for training, mentorship, entrepreneurship and paid internships.

Mike and Diane Christian.
Mike and Diane Christian

“That is what makes this program special,” said Mike. “These are paid internships for a group of young people who might not receive compensation for the experience, at organizations that might not have the budget to hire communicators.”

This year, thanks to the Christians, Impact Media provided scholarships to 11 students for internships: seven in summer and four in fall. The students interned with the Family Service Agency, PFLAG, the Santa Barbara Food Bank and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, among others. Two students also interned for Someone Else’s Child Foundation.

“Our students gained valuable professional skills, a portfolio and mentorship. Mike’s insight and vision to develop more professional skills was implemented and achieved, and I am confident that we set this cohort of students up for success in the prosocial and environmental media sectors,” said Ian Keller, lecturer for the Impact Media Internship program.

As part of the most recent cohort, Sage Hinsley ’23 interned for the Climate Ad Project. The volunteer-run organization found it helpful to have one person to lead a complex initiative that translated science into a social media strategy.

“There is no time like the present to become a climate activist, and my journey has accelerated with the help of the Climate Ad Project. By making social media content and utilizing my skills in compilation video editing, I aimed to expose the true harmful effects humans and corporations have on the Earth to a wide audience. This scholarship allowed me to thrive in my internship, meet people from all over the world and jump-start my professional career,” said Sage.

“We are deeply grateful to Mike and Diane Christian for their partnership in the Impact Media Internship program. The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to expanding opportunities for UC Santa Barbara students to receive hands-on training and in-depth instruction in all aspects of media. The Impact Media Internship program gives our students the tools they need to offer real assistance to wonderful organizations,” said Patrice Petro, distinguished professor and Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and Presidential Chair in Media Studies.

Inspired by decades of volunteer work serving children and the community, Diane founded Someone Else’s Child in 1997 to help kids in need. Someone Else’s Child Foundation addresses disparities by connecting youth with consistent opportunities to live, learn, grow and engage as contributing members of their communities to create systematic change.

“Diane and I feel strongly about supporting youth,” said Mike. “We’re always thinking about how we can spur collective action or work in collaborations with other organizations, like UC Santa Barbara. It’s hard to move the needle by yourself, but together, you can do more.”