CDF Youth Voices Storytelling Fellowship

Our Youth Voices initiative equips young individuals with the tools, training, and influence to narrate their unique stories. Our three storytellers share a common mission: sharing their experiences of growing up in an unequal America. 

In a nation where children, families, and entire communities face marginalization, our storytellers confront these challenges head-on. Armed with the medium of filmmaking, they explore the impact of barriers that threaten their security, peace of mind, and joy. Their stories reflect both loss and hope, shedding light on the strength found within communities, connections, family, and friendships. 

We confront the harm inflicted upon our youth when obstructive barriers deny them opportunities to thrive. Most importantly, we recognize the profound impact of youth voices.  

Watch three powerful stories, expertly captured on film and crafted by our Youth Voices fellows: Merci Hardy, Camilo Montoya, and Mahia Rahman. 

Seeds from the Same Tree

Name: Camilo Montoya
Age: 20

A look into the life of two artists, both first generation Latino Americans, who must overcome their challenging upbringings and support each other as they enter manhood.

I’m Happy. Promise

Name: Merci Hardy
Age: 22

The reflections of a young woman overcoming her battle of acceptance, including her mental health’s role in curating her reality. Over the course of the film, she reveals the lessons she’s learned – the ones she used to refuse. We are left to muse: Can happiness only be felt as it passes through? Can you honestly hold onto it?

The Forgotten Scraps of My American Dream

Name: Mahia Rahman
Age: 17

Through the intimate vignette of family life, The Forgotten Scraps of My American Dream considers the generational struggles and sacrifices immigrant families make to fulfill false promises.