Jul 27

“To The Letter” Wins First Place In The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge

“To The Letter” Wins First Place In The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge

The first-place prize includes a $10,000 donation to School on Wheels

School on Wheels has announced its animated short film TO THE LETTER has won first place in the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge, which includes a $10,000 donation to School on Wheels. The animated short film is now streaming on Youtube and CBS.com.

TO THE LETTER follows a young unhoused student as she attempts to learn how to read. Letters and words escape her into the cloudy darkness of her frustration until her tutor breaks through and braves the storm with her. The film is inspired by the School on Wheels ABC Literacy Program, which is designed to help unhoused students in kindergarten through third-grade catch up to their grade level in literacy and develop a love of reading.

“School on Wheels was thrilled to be chosen as a beneficiary of the Pipeline Challenge. Our team was able to navigate the experience of being a young student facing homelessness with compassion and empathy and really got to the heart of our program,” said Sinead Chilton, Chief Development & Marketing Officer of School on Wheels. “We are thrilled to have won first place and will use the prize money to provide tutoring services to even more kids like Mia, whose education is being impacted negatively due to their homelessness.”

The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge was judged by a group of 37 showrunners, directors, agents, managers, and production company executives. The participating films were evaluated using a scoring points scale from 1-10 in each of the following categories: script/writing, direction, casting, acting, cinematography, sound design, production value/design, hair/makeup, alignment with the mission of the non-profit and editing.
“I’m blown away by the talent among our inaugural participants, and beyond proud of the cross-company and cross-industry effort that made it possible to empower storytellers at the beginning of their careers and to uplift these important causes,” said Lori Erickson, Vice President of Casting at CBS Studios and Founder of the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge. “Congrats to Maya Alvarez and Team School on Wheels on their beautiful film, along with all of the incredible storytellers who accepted the challenge. If this is the future of entertainment, we’re in the best of hands.”
“With a team of seven animators across the world, we were able to come together virtually amidst the racial, political and health pandemics in our world and create a story with passion and social impact to honor the students of School on Wheels,” said Nirav Bhakta, Director of TO THE LETTER. “We are so proud that our vision was recognized and we were able to win such a generous donation for School on Wheels.”
TO THE LETTER is directed/written by Nirav Bhakta, co-written by David Aguilar, composed by Dhruv Goel, edited by Mario Torres Torres, and produced by Lauren Robinson, Rachel Hanley, and Bhavani Rao, with casting by Maddalena Zuppetta. Maya Alvarez serves as the Executive Producer and Team Lead. The film is animated by Carlos Velez, Megan Lucas, Chris Culpepper, Nguyet Nghi Duong, Rakshit Srivastava, and Chantal Paz. The animation team is led by award-winning animator and VFX artist Chun Chun Chang.

The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge was founded by Lori Erickson, Vice President of Casting at CBS Studios. Casting coordinator Lindsey Edge serves as Program Manager.

About the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge
The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge is a social impact-focused short film competition aimed at empowering assistants to step into creative leadership positions. Junior-level employees within CBS Studios and CBS joined forces with early-career storytellers nominated by Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge and Casting Society Cares Training & Education to create three short films that align with the missions of local nonprofits School on Wheels, SafeBAE and Homeboy Industries in an effort to win donations towards the nonprofits.
To learn more about the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge, visit CBS.com

About School on Wheels
School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. The program spans six counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura, as well as a learning center in Skid Row.

School on Wheels Contact:
Sinead Chilton schilton@schoolonwheels.org

To The Letter Press Contact:
Maya Alvarez maya.alvarez@cbs.com