When you think about a nonprofit, you probably think of giving back to the community, helping others, donations, etc., but what about a television show structured to train adults who have autism and developmental disabilities and have an interest in video production? Probably not. While JDS Creative Academy (JDSCA) is dedicated to all the above, it’s all part of the nonprofit’s mission, to advance education, training and career pathway opportunities in visual, performing and digital arts. The story behind where it all started might surprise you, and to fully understand what JDS Creative Academy is all about, we need to rewind a bit.
Meet Scott and Diane Strand. They’re a couple with over twenty-five years of experience in the entertainment industry, video production and media marketing, who started their production company, JDS Video and Media Productions, Inc., out of North County San Diego in 2003. They did so after leaving behind their high-level entertainment industry careers in Los Angeles. Within five years, the Strands and JDS had established themselves and incorporated in Temecula. As the business continued to rapidly grow over the next two years, mostly by word-of-mouth, Scott and Diane launched a Drama Club program in the Temecula Unified School District. After the overwhelming response, they decided to create an Actors Studio for all ages to learn the technique and craft of acting, which is now known as JDS Actors Studio.
As they got JDS Actors Studio up and running, the community began asking for other arts education opportunities. This is when the Strands realized that the area really lacked opportunities for the arts.
In response to this request, they sought after the idea of helping students, specifically homeschooled and independent study students, fulfill their Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) requirements per the California Education Core Standard. By opening their services to different populations, the Strands were able to not only allow students to chase their passions and accomplish education goals but help them find pathway opportunities for a career in several different creative mediums. In return, this helped put the Strands a bit more on the map. In 2014, the Strands and a Board of Directors, consisting of media and business professionals, founded the nonprofit 501(c)(3) JDS Creative Academy (JDSCA).
As if running a nonprofit, a video production company and an actors studio wasn’t enough, Diane also sits on the Board of Directors for Workforce Development for Riverside County. This year will be her eighth year. Her involvement with Workforce led to meeting an individual who received services from the county’s Inland Regional Center (IRC). This person was in a Paid Internship Program (PIP), and JDSCA was asked to bring him on as an intern at no cost or training time of the JDS Staff. This caused an epiphany. JDSCA could provide opportunities to more individuals in the region and offer quality work experience in a safe, structured environment.
To that end, JDS Creative Academy set out to write a Title-17 video production job-training program. After getting approved, they recruited a group of talented industry professionals who could train and mentor, and the job-training video production day program began May of 2018. The organization has come a long way since its inception in 2014 and continues to expand. JDSCA is gearing up to have a PIP program of their own.
Everyone at JDSCA is thrilled their efforts are being rewarded and recognized, garnishing nine international Communicator awards for their television program Spirit of Innovation, the training program’s show the SOI Update, and a radio news program on 102.5 The Vine called the JDSCA News Update. In 2019, they were also the recipients of six Telly Awards with one being in the category of Diversity and Inclusion! Diane, Scott and the entire #JDSFamily hold a special mantra and it truly speaks volumes as to what JDSCA aims to do: Provide H.O.P.E, Helping One Person Everyday.