CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge Promotes Important Causes Through Three Short Films

Watch the winning projects from the successful pilot program, telling the stories of Homeboy Industries, SafeBAE, and School on Wheels.
Posted on May 24, 2021 | 12:30pm
Three weeks. $5,000. One five-minute short film about a local nonprofit organization.

That was the task for  teams participating in the inaugural CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge. Now, the results of the pilot program are ready—and they're inspiring!

The mission of the program is to empower early-career storytellers to step into creative leadership positions and to reconfigure the entertainment industry's "talent pipeline" to make it more equitable.

The inaugural cohort of 58 participants rose to the challenge, and CBS is delighted to present these short films, which tell stories inspired by the missions of nonprofit organizations Homeboy Industries, SafeBAE, and School on Wheels.

Each film will be judged by showrunners, directors, agents, managers, and creative executives to determine which teams win awards. In addition, each nonprofit has the opportunity to win vital funds for their mission and they will own the film that their work has inspired.

The participants in the pilot program consist of junior-level employees from within CBS and CBS Studios, as well as emerging talent nominated by outside coalitions that work towards representation in media. Those organizations include the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, and Casting Society Cares Training & Education Program. The 15 finalists walk away with paid experience.

When surveyed, participants reported an average of 16 new relationships sparked between early-career storytellers. In addition, the survey found unanimous agreement that this program is a step in the right direction towards a more equitable, inclusive entertainment industry. All of the survey respondents agreed that they would prefer to work at (or continue to work at) a company that offers creative leadership opportunities.

The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge was founded by Lori Erickson, Vice President of Casting at CBS Studios, with the ongoing input of assistants and executives from across CBS Corporation. Casting Coordinator Lindsey Edge serves as Program Manager.

Erickson expresses special thanks to "David Stapf and Tiffany Smith-Anoa'i, who believed in this idea and invested in it from the jump, to Meg Liberman for her endless support, and to George Cheeks for his enthusiastic endorsement of this pilot program."

A final virtual awards screening will take place on June 23rd at 3PM PT/6PM ET.

Team Homeboy Industries: Hope Has An Address
Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men, women, and youth, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Click here to make a donation directly to Homeboy Industries.



Joshua Walker – Team Leader
Jose Vicente Chavez – Director
Russell Carter – Writer
Shaina Ghuraya – Editor
Nicole Bunnell – Casting Director

Team SafeBAE: Unread
SafeBAE is a survivor-founded, student-led organization whose mission is to end sexual assault among middle and high school students. As the only national peer-to-peer organization of its kind, they help promote culture change by giving teens the tools to become activists and shift school culture through raising awareness about dating violence, sexual harassment and assault, enthusiastic consent, safe bystander intervention, survivor care, and their rights under Title IX. Click here to make a donation directly to SafeBAE.



Hannah Davis – Team Leader
Alle Hsu – Director
Ethan Young – Writer
Kelsey Gumm – Editor
LaCreshia Griffin-Pope – Casting Director

Team School on Wheels: To The Letter
School on Wheels volunteers provide free tutoring and mentoring to children from kindergarten through twelfth grade living in shelters, motels, vehicles, group foster homes, and the streets of Southern California. Since 1993, the mission of School on Wheels has never wavered: to enhance educational opportunities for children who are experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Their goal is to shrink the gaps in their learning and provide them with the highest level of education possible. The program serves as a consistent support system for our students during a time of great stress and fear. Click here to make a donation directly to Schools on Wheels.



Maya Alvarez – Team Leader
Nirav Bhakta – Director
David Aguilar – Writer
Mario Torres Torres - Editor
Maddalena Zuppetta – Casting Director