We are thrilled to announce that Yasmin Mistry and her Foster Care Film and Community Engagement Project are the first recipients of the Jessie Streich-Kest Memorial Grant!

Yasmin on the goal of the project: 

"Our goal is to provide role models for youth currently in the foster care system, giving them work experience as well as hope and inspiration for a better future.

Through film and media we intend to dispel negative stereotypes about foster care by showing how school, extended family and the kindness of strangers can help a child find their path in life. By educating general audiences about foster care we can inspire prospective foster parents, mentors or advocates to take action within their communities."

On the project's inspiration:

"After three years working with a developmentally-delayed child, I picked up my phone to hear a little voice saying, “Mama.” This was Ana’s first word and her foster mother had called me, her Court Appointed Special Advocate, to share the experience. As a CASA volunteer, I’ve spent years working with children, their families and the court system to help find kids a permanent home, good educational opportunities and needed medical and social services. As I heard Ana find her voice, I wondered how, and whether, other foster youth ever truly found theirs. So I decided to answer this question using the tools I knew best, animation and film, to give foster youth a chance to be heard."

Yasmin's dedication embodies the ethos of the Artist Volunteer Center:  Her artwork is derived from a long and dedicated commitment to volunteerism. Over the past 8 years she has volunteered as a foster youth advocate through Court Appointed Special Advocates. Read more about Yasmin below.



Charell, age 6, woke up to find herself alone. She made breakfast, dropped her baby sister off with a neighbor, and walked to school. With a dad incarcerated for murder, a mom on drugs & a childhood in foster care, Charell knew it was time to break the cycle. Learn more at: http://fostercarefilm.com/feelingwanted/ Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4320498/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ql_1
Ashley, a young Native-American girl, converts to Islam in hopes of finding structure in a life where it never existed, but with that decision comes the risk of losing one of the few biological connections she still has. My Identity tells the story of how race, religion, and the foster care experience can shape one's identity. Learn more at: fostercarefilm.com/myidentity Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4658394/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ql_1

Director's Bio:

Yasmin Mistry is an Emmy-nominated animator and filmmaker. Her work has been displayed worldwide including recent showings at the White House and United Nations as well as at film festivals such as Cannes, SXSW, Tribeca and Clermont-Ferrand. She is the recipient of the Puffin Foundation’s 2013 film grant, the Brooklyn Arts Council’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 film grants, and a finalist for the Real Ideas Studio Micro-grant. Her first live-action film, “Feeling Wanted” was an official selection of more than 15 film festivals. The film won 8 awards and was nominated for Best Short Film of 2015 by Adoption At The Movies.

When not working as an artist, Yasmin dedicates her time to the foster youth of New York City. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, she received the 2012 Advocate of The Year Award for her dedication to getting services for foster care children with special needs. Yasmin was inspired to create this film when she realized the voices of the children she worked with were not being heard and their stories never told.




Twitter: @FosterCareFilm

Instagram: @FosterCareFilm



About the Jessie Streich-Kest Memorial Grant:

Through this grant, the Artist Volunteer Center supports an artist’s project that is dedicated to advancing themes of social justice, equity, and/or education.

The Artist Volunteer Center is founded on the belief that when artists lend their time as volunteers, not only are they provided with opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of others, they are also given new inspirations for art making. This grant aids the selected artist/collaboration in the completion of a long-term volunteer project, which will culminate in an artwork or series of works inspired by the artist’s volunteer experience. This grant prioritizes the needs of underserved artists, particularly emerging artists, artists of color, queer artists, and immigrant artists. Projects are selected for their artistic merit and their social impact.

In order to be eligible, proposed projects must demonstrate long-term volunteerism in communities. This is defined as a prolonged investment of time and energy in the people and organizational partners where the artist is volunteering. We want to see you develop relationships and spend time with people, a particular population, and/or a cause. However, not every aspect of the project needs to involve community, and final products can range in form. Studio artists, performance artists, musicians, and writers, just to name a few, are encouraged to apply as well as those whose practice is community based. There must a public component as part of the work which might include, but is not limited to, an exhibition, panel discussion, workshop, or screening. In addition to the $1,000 to reimburse costs associated with the project, the Artist Volunteer Center will assist the artist in securing partnerships, and offer the use of its network in realizing the project. 



About Jessie Streich-Kest:

Jessie Streich-Kest was a kind, optimistic, determined, and hard-working young teacher who lost her life in a tragic accident during Superstorm Sandy.

A graduate of Edward R. Murrow High School, her teachers there inspired her to pursue a career in education and to become a tireless advocate for her students at Bushwick School for Social Justice. She worked long hours to ensure that their academic and emotional needs were met. 

Jessie's work at Bushwick School for Social Justice was only a small part of the impact she had on the world. A fierce warrior for fairness, equality, and positive change, she touched many lives with her advocacy for animal rights and social justice. Her short time at Bushwick School for Social Justice demonstrated to everyone around her just how much of an impact one person can make.

This Grant is made possible by the Jessie Streich-Kest Memorial Fund, an advised fund of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, and administered by Brooklyn Arts Council in collaboration with the Artist Volunteer Center.