The American Film Institute‘s two-year graduate film program the AFI Conservatory has received a scholarship funding boost for the coming year that totals $6.2 million, nearly three times the total of previous years. The AFI Board of Directors raised $2.3 million on the backs of a $1 million challenge grant by chairman Robert Daly and gifts by Board of Trustees chairman Howard Stringer and Lawrence Herbert. An additional $3.5 million came from donors including David Geffen, Alan Horn, Terry Semel and the Time Warner Foundation, with the new total going 100% toward the program’s 200 fellows. AFI also announced two new initiatives tied to the the new funding, with more in the works. Here’s that part of the release announcing the gains:


Gary Winick Scholarship
The Gary Winick Foundation has established an endowed scholarship in Winick’s memory. Winick was an AFI Directing alumnus (Class of 1986), innovator in independent filmmaking and noted mentor to young talent. The first Gary Winick Scholarship has been awarded to AFI Directing Fellow Henry Hughes, a U.S. military veteran, whose tuition is covered in small part by the G.I. bill. Hughes is participating in ABC’s STANDING UP FOR HEROES – and through the program has had the opportunity to screen his cycle film for filmmaker George Lucas, who is now mentoring Hughes’ progress.

Latino Donor Collaborative
Through the introduction of AFI Trustee Moctesuma Esparza, the AFI Conservatory has partnered with the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) to promote talented filmmakers from the Latino community by offering scholarship funds to be distributed in varying amounts to eight Fellows (including both First and Second Year) in the 2013-2014 academic year.