Nekisa Cooper, winner of the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award with director Dee Rees for their Sundance break-out Pariah, has been named the recipient of the inaugural Project Involve Fellowship. Film Independent and the Fox | HBCU Media Alliance (FHMA) partnered on the new initiative in association with Film Independent’s Project Involve program, which fosters the development of filmmakers from traditionally underrepresented communities. Cooper will receive a $10,000 grant prize for her next feature Bolo, a Southern crime thriller that reteams her director Rees in the story of a Memphis police detective investigating a murder in her own community.

The Fox Film Grant marks the start of Film Independent’s new multi-year partnership with the FHMA, the Fox-based program created with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Membership in the FHMA is open to students, faculty, and alumni of HBCUs and makes applicants eligible to apply for both Film Independent’s Project Involve and the Fox Film Grant. Past Project Involve fellows include Effie T. Brown (Rocket Science), Sheldon Candis (LUV), Jon Chu (G.I. Joe:Retaliation, Justin Bieber:Never Say Never), Cherien Dabis (Amreeka, May in the Summer), Javier Fuentes-León (Undertow), Aurora Guerrero (Mosquita y Mari), Melissa Lee (Circumstance), and Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned).