The Digital Technology Academy is a media arts training program that was established by Doug Harris with Athletes United for Peace in conunction with the California College of Arts and the Alameda County Juvenile Probation Department to introduce teen groups to digital video production.
The on-site academy teamed up with Contra Costa County's Service Integration Program in 1999 to address the "digital divide" when access to digital technology was limited to inner-city youth. Over the years, the academy has offered hundreds of teens an opportunity to learn video production skills in the areas of camera operation, lighting, audio, project research, script writing, graphic design, and non linear desktop editing.
In 2000, the Digital Technology Academy began production of An Exploration of Our History, a documentary film series about the history of Contra Costa County's unincorporated communities of North Richmond and Bay Point. The academy participants produced a total of seven documentaries that received film festival awards from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Berkeley Video & Film Festival, and the Alliance for Community Media.
The documentaries produced by the academy closely examine the county's history from a social/economic perspective through interviews with area historians, educators, politicians, civic leaders and senior residents from the two unincorporated communities. In 2002, the academy received recognition in the 107th Congressional Record for outstanding youth program by Congressman George Miller, then Chair of the House Education Committee.
Over the years, the program has been funded by Contra Costa County, the City of Richmond, North Richmond Mitigation Fund, The California Endowment, and has offered teen participant an opportunity to gain meaningful work experience as members of a production crew. The films have included commentary from a host of local historians, politicians, civic leaders, and senior residents.
Some of the topics of the North Richmond documentaries have included the migration of African Americans from the south to Richmond for wartime industry work in the Kaiser Shipyards, the community's black businesses, and the popular nite clubs that featured national blues artists.
The An Exploration of Our History documentary series is regularly used for educational curriculum by high schools and colleges, and are regularly aired on cable stations throughout Contra Costa County. The academy's final documentary produced in 2016, North Richmond: Past, Present and Future, was narrated by Contra Costa County supervisor John Gioia.