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Comcast NBCUniversal Joins Forces With the USC Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism To Measure NBCU's Initiative To Help Create More Access and Equity in the Creative Economy

The Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project to Examine Effectiveness of NBCU’s Creative Impact Lab 


August 17, 2023

Comcast NBCUniversal and the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism will collaborate in measuring NBCUniversal’s efforts to create more access and equity in the creative economy. The USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project will conduct a pilot evaluation of NBCUniversal’s Creative Impact Lab, a first-of-its-kind initiative to help aspiring creatives from under-resourced communities break into the industry and learn the craft. 

The Lab commissions diverse apprentices from creative nonprofit agencies who receive a grant from NBCUniversal to develop marketing assets for the company’s nonprofit partners. The apprentices complete each project with guidance and mentoring from NBCUniversal employee volunteers. The final assets receive exposure on the networks and platforms of Comcast and NBCUniversal.   

The goal of the study is to discover the impact of paid creative apprenticeships and the value of professional mentorship. Additionally, the research will evaluate the outcomes for nonprofit clients of the Lab who receive storytelling assets and media inventory.

“In order to ensure that we are on the right path towards meeting the objectives of the Creative Impact Lab, it is important to engage a third party to assess our impact along the way,” said Hilary Smith EVP, Corporate Social responsibility for NBCUniversal. “We could not be more pleased to work with The USC Annenberg School’s Lear Center—one of the premier research institutions specializing in studying socio-economic and cultural impact in the entertainment sector—for this critical effort.” 

“We are proud to have our Lear Center collaborate with NBCUniversal’s Creative Impact Lab. Together, they will identify best practices that we can all deploy to move the needle for greater diversity in storytelling and careers in creative industries,” said Willow Bay, Dean and Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The Media Impact Project’s evaluation of the Lab will focus on two cohorts of student apprentices, nonprofit creative agencies and nonprofit clients who are participating in a project during the third and fourth quarters of 2023, as well as some alumni of the program. The nonprofit agencies included in this group are Reel WorksRE:IMAGINENOVACPhillyCAMVenice Arts, and Wide Angle Youth Media. The nonprofit clients include GameheadsGirls Write NowInternational Bird RescueProsperaSummer House InstituteUrban Arts Partnership, and Village Microfund

Through a series of interviews and surveys, the research will ascertain the skills students developed from the Lab experience, the impact of mentorship and level in which the Lab helps open doors to future work in the industry. Additionally, the study will examine how the marketing assets created in the Lab are used by the nonprofit client and to what extent they help drive engagement.

About The Lear Center:

The Norman Lear Center is a nonpartisan research and public policy center that studies the social, political, economic and cultural impact of entertainment on the world. The Lear Center translates its findings into action through testimony, journalism, strategic research and innovative public outreach campaigns. On campus, from its base in the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, the Lear Center builds bridges between schools and disciplines whose faculty study aspects of entertainment, media and culture. Beyond campus, it bridges the gap between the entertainment industry and academia, and between them and the public. Through scholarship and research; through its conferences, public events and publications; and in its attempts to illuminate and repair the world, the Lear Center works to be at the forefront of discussion and practice in the field.

At the Lear Center’s Media Impact Project, we study the impact of news and entertainment on viewers. Our goal is to prove that media matters, and to improve the quality of media to serve the public good. We partner with media makers and funders to create and conduct program evaluation, develop and test research hypotheses, and publish and promote thought leadership on the role of media in social change.