Members of Santa Fe's art community, last night, invested $8,015 in the imagination and self-esteem of 20 DeVargas Middle School students during SITE Santa Fe's micro-granting dinner, SPREAD 2.0.

While accepting the cash contribution, Jason Jaacks—founder of the Reel Youth Stories Project—stressed that while a small group of seventh and eighth graders would benefit directly from the grant, the initiative would not only benefit greater Santa Fe by involving local kids in the arts, but also by inviting the community to get involved, at least at screenings of the students' films.

After five-minute presentations by SPREAD finalists, attendees voted for Jaacks' project over seven others that ranged from activist art installations such as One Million Bones to the multi-disciplinary improv performance piece Storm by Theater Grottesco and Out of Context Orchestra.

Speaking just before the 350-some attendees deposited their ballots, members of the art collective Meow Wolf—the inaugural SPREAD winner—told the audience that the some $7,000 they received last spring transformed their group from a collection of artists with ideas into an active and productive collective. Meow Wolf used the grant to launch its interdimensional spacecraft, The Due Return, and its been busy with commissions and education initiatives at local schools ever since.

Jaacks intends to implement the Reel Youth Stories Project during the spring semester at DeVargas. Using "tabletop filmmaking"—a process that boils down the filmmaking process to tools and methods that fit on a table—the project hopes to teach students various skills from the technical to the social. Two students involved in the first incarnation of the project, Jaacks said during his presentation, started out completely silent, but by the end delivered a presentation, "less nervous than I am now."

Having run the project on $80 and volunteer hours, Jaacks said that he'll use the grant to rent the screening venue, provide transportation for the students, by equipment and provide a teaching stipend.