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Philadelphia film director captures vital work of FirstHand through United for Equality initiative

Washington, D.C. – Sept. 29, 2021 – Strayer University is continuing its partnership with The Blackhouse Foundation—a leading voice working to elevate and increase the number of diverse voices in filmmaking—with the launch of United for Equality (UFE). UFE builds upon Strayer’s work of infusing documentary-style short films into online course content by engaging students in the stories of three racial justice advocacy organizations told through the lens of Black filmmakers.

In one of the films, directed by Philadelphia-based director André Robert Lee, a professor, producer and acclaimed documentary filmmaker, students will explore the impact of FirstHand, an initiative from the University City Science Center that aims to spark an interest in STEM career pathways for middle and high school students. This program expands on the Science Center’s larger effort to advance healthcare innovation from idea to the marketplace through startup support services, allocating capital, gathering the innovation community, and building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults. The FirstHand film can be viewed here.

“We’re thrilled to amplify FirstHand’s mission to increase diversity in STEM fields and help educate Strayer students on the opportunities within the STEM industry,” said David Clayton, director, STEM education, University City Science Center, “We hope the film resonates with Strayer students and that they’re inspired by our work in exposing young adults to a wider variety of career opportunities through industry-informed curricula that provides real-world, hands-on experience in an effort to open doors for the minds of tomorrow. ”

The FirstHand film is one of three stories featured in Strayer’s Sociology 210: Social Intelligence course, which launched this summer, allowing students to hear directly from FirstHand, as well as the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Urban League of Central Carolinas, on how each organization addresses racial inequities and empowers change in their local communities and society at large.

“Using film as a medium to showcase societal inequities is incredibly powerful,” said Lee, “My work with FirstHand offers a glimpse into how local advocates can fight against inequities by providing support for under-resourced kids. Capturing these students’ genuine passion and endless potential on film was such a joyful process. Strayer students will be able to feel that emotion while engaging with the film and I’m hoping it compels them to get involved in their own communities.”

Through each documentary, students will gain practical tips for advocacy in their personal lives, explore critical thinking strategies that will help them understand different perspectives and discover how they, too, are agents of change who can contribute meaningfully to create a more united and equitable future.

“By highlighting a diverse set of community advocacy groups, including the Science Center’s FirstHand team, UFE emphasizes why racial justice efforts must cut across industries to overcome structural obstacles that stand in the way of true equality,” said Brickson Diamond, board chair, The Blackhouse Foundation, “The Blackhouse Foundation is proud to work with Strayer yet again to deliver this pivotal lesson to university students, while simultaneously lifting up Black creators, advocates and organizers in the process.”

The films are produced by Strayer Studios, a production arm of Strayer University that infuses curriculum with interactive, cinematic stories produced by award-winning filmmakers to engage students and help them grasp subject matter in more meaningful ways.

Strayer and The Blackhouse Foundation began their partnership in 2020 with an activation at the Sundance Film Festival, celebrating diverse authorship in academic content and film.

“Through UFE, Strayer University and The Blackhouse Foundation are showcasing the forward-focused approach that community organizations can take toward advancing the racial equality movement,” said Andrea Backman, president, Strayer University, “By learning from their success, we hope students will be empowered to make a difference in their own communities.”

To learn more about United for Equality, visit this website.

About Strayer University: Founded in 1892, Strayer University is an institution of higher learning for working adult students. It offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, information technology, education, health services administration, public administration, and criminal justice. Strayer University is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), Strayer University’s accreditation status is Accreditation Reaffirmed. MSCHE most recently reaffirmed Strayer University’s accreditation status in June 2017, with the next self-study evaluation scheduled for the 2025–2026 academic year. MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). For more information, visit

About The Blackhouse Foundation: The Blackhouse Foundation works to expand opportunities for Black content creators by providing pathways to opportunities within film, television, digital and emerging platforms. Blackhouse provides opportunities for minority creatives to learn about the financial, production, marketing and distribution resources that will raise the profile of their content, while also providing participants with a nucleus for continuing support, community and education. For more information, visit


Media Contacts:

Strayer University

Elaine Kincel


The Blackhouse Foundation

Danielle deCongé


Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing