Emerging Educational Filmmaker Grant Recipients – Summer 2024

Congratulations to all the filmmakers in the Summer 2024 cycle. We’re excited for what comes next in your work. Thank you to all that submitted projects and thank you to the grant panel.


Logline: Tired of being overlooked by the public in lieu of more glamorous ocean research, a disgruntled marine biologist and her plucky intern attempt to make marine invertebrates cool – by going viral on tiktok.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Shannon Morrall

Shannon Morrall is a writer/director from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She most recently served as lead producer on Europa, an eco-fantasy short filmed at Sony Pictures Studios’s LED Volume, in collaboration with Oscar-Winning Pixomondo and the Entertainment Technology Center. Her stories tend to explore human connection, joy, and play, often through the escapism of grand adventure genres or with an environmental message. As such, she is passionate about virtual production and using technology to tell stories that are out-of-this-world.

With a BFA in International Politics and Chinese, she got her start as a women’s rights representative at the United Nations and quickly learned how the power of media can make a difference. She then attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA program to study Film Production. 

Shannon is the recipient of the Natural Florida Film Grant to continue her work in educational nature content, something she began in 2015 with a children’s nature web series. She put that grant towards her ocean conservation documentary, “Spear, Spatula, Submarine,” which won the grand jury prize in the 2024 AmPav Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes Film Festival, won the Deep Blue Environmental Award from Hawaii FF and the US Department of Energy, and has since screened at festivals, museums, schools, and community events across the country. 

Shannon continues to work towards using film and media to both entertain and educate by shedding light on topics she’s passionate about.


Logline: When two teenage friends, Angie and Lisa, invite local lesbians to speak at their high school, they ignite a firestorm of controversy and threats, forcing them to confront the harsh realities of activism and allyship in 1990s America.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Elizabeth Bourgeois.

Liz  works primarily in film and live performance. Her directing work has been produced by the American Living Room, New York and Midtown International Fringe Festivals. She has directed three short films, including The Concert, currently screening on the festival circuit. Her two decades of design credits include costumes or scenery for Juilliard, La Mama, Big Apple Circus, HERE, Lincoln Center, and MTV. Film Designs include The Winged Man, Andy Across the Water, and Spider and Jessie.She was the Assistant Costume Designer for the original Broadway production of Avenue Q.

Liz has been the creative director or lead designer for new retail spaces and visual marketing campaigns. Her designs have been commissioned by International corporations, including Marriott, United Way, and the US Open. In her fashion work, Liz implemented small batch manufacturing and recycling technology for a nationally distributed clothing line (Team Chipmunk).

Her work has been exhibited at the Prague Quadrennial, OISTAT World Stage, and the Kennedy Center. She has been an Artist in Residence at Yale, MassMOCA, and Bard. She is a recipient of the Arts of Citizenship Award from the State of Michigan, Meritorious Recognition from the Ohio House of Representatives, and an Emerging Filmmaker Award from Film Florida. She has an MFA in Design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Logline: At Helen Bernstein High School in Los Angeles, immigrants are enrolled in a special program aimed at providing newcomers an equitable education. NEWCOMERS follows the freshman class of students at Bernstein High, many of whom are unaccompanied minors from Central America, revealing a nuanced portrait of the immigrant experience through the lens of the American public education system.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Alejandra Vasquez

Alejandra Vasquez is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film Going Varsity in Mariachi, co-directed with Sam Osborn, premiered at Sundance and screened at festivals around the world. For her next project, she’s following the incoming freshman class of students at a public school program that exclusively serves newcomer migrants, primarily unaccompanied minors.

Project: REST

Logline: REST is a short film following the participants of Roundtable Senior Center’s Drama Club in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A group of Black senior women ages 65-85, respond to Tricia Hersey’s book, REST IS RESISTANCE, A MANIFESTO, by reflecting on how they care for their aging bodies and the dreams that never leave us.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Hannah Myers

Hannah Myers (she / her) is an award-winning Filmmaker and Actor, bred in the Carolinas and based in NYC. She is a 2023 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow as well as a Telluride Film Festival Symposium Alum and annual staff member. Her films have received support from The Gotham (IFP), DOC NYC, Southern Documentary Fund, Mountainfilm, OUT at the Movies, Tanbark Pictures, The Kenan Institute, Out on Film, and screened at festivals worldwide. With roots in the theater, she has worked closely with Atlantic Theater Company, Lincoln Center, Soho Rep., The Bushwick Starr, SITI Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, and Gibney Dance Center among others. Hannah works closely with solutions journalism magazine, Reasons to be Cheerful, founded by David Byrne and SPACE on Ryder Farm. University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA, Drama).


Logline: SEEING WITHOUT SIGHT is a documentary short featuring the empowering stories of girls and women living with visual impairments. Through their journeys, the film challenges viewers to perceive beauty beyond the limitations of sight.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Alyscia Cunningham

Alyscia Cunningham is an award-winning author, filmmaker, tactile artist, and photographer. She focuses on impactful documentaries and horror films addressing women’s beauty and health issues, highlighting resilience and triumph. Alyscia is the Executive Director of Her House Media and a TEDx speaker. Celebrated as part of Forbes ‘The Next 1000’ (2021), she has received accolades from the American Express 100 for 100 Program and is a FrontLine Voice for the Stop the Beauty Madness campaign. Her work is a testament to her passion for storytelling that enlightens, challenges, and inspires global beauty paradigm shifts.


Logline: We the People blows the dust off the U.S. Constitution to reveal a living, evolving rulebook that is as relevant today as it has ever been—inspiring everyday citizens to stand up for what they believe in and make change happen in our country.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Leah Loftin

Leah Loftin is a filmmaker and actor whose work was called “fearless” by The New York Times. Loftin was recently awarded the UK’s Silver Medal at the 1.4 Awards for Brilliant Filmmaking in Nonfiction, and her experimental film work was a finalist for the Aesthetica Art Prize. Named an “emerging director to discover” by SHOOT Magazine, her films have premiered at OSCAR and BAFTA-qualifying film festivals including DOC NYC, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Aesthetica, among others. A working actress in film and television with recent guest star roles on The Blacklist, New Amsterdam, and The Green Veil, Loftin has a deep background in movement-based theatre and has performed Off-Broadway and throughout the US, Canada, and Eastern Europe.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Aura Lewis

Aura Lewis is an author, illustration artist and designer renowned for her feminist, historical, and politically themed works. Aura’s work has been exhibited internationally and is featured in books for children and adults, on television, film, stationery, ad campaigns, branding, murals, and editorial publications. Her publishers include Harper Collins, Hachette, Abrams, Simon & Schuster, and beyond, with illustration clients that include Macy’s, Hallmark, Disney, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Inspired by women’s history, fashion, social activism and culture from around the world, Aura holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Educational Filmmaker 2024 Recipient Image of Evan Sargent

Evan Sargent is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur and artist. She is founder and CEO of Leap_year, a disruptive branding and marketing agency known for building bold brands fast for visionary leaders and serial founders, consulting with brands ranging from Disney to Zoom. Sargent’s background includes over a decade as a creative leader in the NYC advertising world working with major global brands. Her work with Georgetown University was recently selected to be part of the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities. Featured as one of Nasdaq’s “Women to Watch in 2024”, Sargent is also a life-long visual artist and the co-author of the award-winning book “We the People: The US Constitution Explored and Explained”.