The Digital Technology Academy is a media arts program that was established by Doug Harris with Athletes United for Pece in 1997 in conjunction with the California College of Arts and the Alameda County Probation Department to introduce high-risk teens to the ever-growing field of digital media production.
The academy joined forces with Contra Costa County's Service Integration Program in 1999 as a way to address the digital divide when access to information technology was limited to many young minorities. Over the years, under Doug's instruction, the academy has offered hundreds of teens an opportunity to learn new media skills in the areas of camera operation, lighting, audio, research, script writing, special effects, graphic design, and non linear editing using Adobe Creative Suite programs Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition and Encore. At the conclusion of the extensive training, teen participants of the academy are assembled into production crews to work on outcome videos and documentary film projects.
In 2000, the Digital Technology Academy began production of "An Exploration of Our History", a documentary film about the history of the unincorporated Contra Costa County community of North Richmond. The academy's first film won awards from the Western Access Video Excellence W.A.V.E. Award, and an award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. In 2001, the county expanded the academy to serve teens in the unincorporated Bay Point community, and eventually expanded the program into a seven-part documentary film series for broadcast on cable stations throughout the East Bay. The educational documentaries were produced to take a close look at the county's history from a social/economic perspective through shared information from historians, educators, polititions, civic leaders, and senior residents.
In 2002, the academy received recognition in the 107th Congressional Record for one of the country's outstanding youth programs by Congressman George Miller. The academy's main objective has been to engage teens in an effort to research, chronicle and preserve their community history through documentary filmmaking. The "An Exploration of Our His
The "An Exploration of Our History" documentary film series has been used for educational curriculum by high schools and colleges, and are regularly aired on cable stations throughout the county.tory" Bay Point series covered segments about East Contra Costa County's celebrated history that included: the Native American Miwork tribes that populated the area, the Spanish Fages-Crespi Expedition in the 1700s, the Black Diamond coal mines in Pittsburg/Antioch, and the famous Port Chicago naval magazine explosion in 1944 to name a few. The North Richmond series included segments about the Standard Oil Company moving to Richmond in 1900, the WWII migration of blacks to North Richmond, the areas popular blues music nite clubs, the Richmond Black Panthers, the 2012 Chevron Refinery explosion, and the unsuccessful plans for annexation to the City of Richmond.