Turner’s Cartoon Network, which turned 25 last year, is reiterating its commitment to supporting the next generation of innovative animators by working with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to create an annual scholarship for deserving students. Totalling $15,000, the first worthy pair to receive support from the initiative are fourth year student Michelle Lam and third year student Mariana Yovanovich.
Cartoon Network and the school have a long relationship, with several alums creating hit shows for the outlet, such as Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack), Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends), Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time), J.G. Quintel (Regular Show) and Daniel Chong (We Bare Bears).
“We have this very long history of talent coming from CalArts,” Cartoon Network’s SVP and General Manager Ben Miller told Variety. “It was probably about 2015 when we started talking to them about a scholarship as a way for us to pay back for the great relationship and great talent we’ve received from the school. They came up with a proposal for the scholarship program, explained to us how it would work and we were completely on board. Now we’re about to enter the second year of the program.”
CalArts School of Film and Video Dean Leighton Pierce explained that there is no application process for the scholarship, but instead students are nominated based on merit. This is made practical by the school’s robust mentoring program which promotes an understanding of each student as an individual.
“I felt very honored because Cartoon Network was my first internship. Not only did the scholarship help me with tuition and continuing my time here at CalArts, but it felt like I was somewhat accepted by the industry, or that there is a chance or hope for me to enter an industry that I’ve dreamed of being a part of since I was a little kid,” said Lam.
Yovanovich, who is from Brazil, was also greatly affected by the award: “Because I’m an international student, I don’t have many options for scholarships besides what the college can give me. For me, this was such a financial relief. I’m never quite sure if I’m going to be able to come back for another year,” she says. “I have another year to go … I think I will be able to come back for a fourth year and graduate. Fingers crossed.”
The scholarship will be awarded for the second time later this year.