Cartoon Network, the television company known for beloved cartoon series’ like “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “Teen Titans,” and “The Powerpuff Girls,” has launched a mentoring program for aspiring animators and filmmakers with autism who are hoping to break into the film industry.
According to a report this month by The Mighty.com, the three-month program is being launched in partnership with the professional film training organization Exceptional Minds. The program is open to second- and third-year students at Exceptional Minds with training in animation, visual effects, post-production, and digital design. The mentoring program is the first Cartoon Network has launched for students on the autism spectrum and can help increase representation of people with autism in the media, as well as access to jobs. Unemployment remains a major problem for young adults with autism, with a 2017 Drexel University report finding that only 14% of autistic adults had paid employment in their communities.
The 20 students chosen to participate in the first round of mentoring from the Cartoon Network Studios Academy will be paired based on their interests and skills. They will also receive advice from professionals in the film and animation industries to help them get started in the fields of animation and digital film production.
Exceptional Minds, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, hopes that its full and part-time film industry training programs will boost employment opportunities for people with autism. Graduate students can participate in the organization’s professional studio, which is an “approved vendor” for major film studios like Disney, HBO, Marvel Studios, and others.
In a Facebook post announcing the partnership with Cartoon Network, Exceptional Minds wrote that it is “so excited to see our students paired for the first time with such talented artists…Day One was a huge success!”