Nickelodeon is establishing a scholarship program at CalArts

Cable channel Nickelodeon, home to "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Dora the Explorer," is establishing an endowed scholarship program at the California Institute of the Arts' School of Film/Video for students of animation.

"We want to do all that we can to support fledgling talent," said Brown Johnson, Nickelodeon's president of animation. "Setting up this scholarship with CalArts gives us a direct line to some of the best bench-strength in animation talent in the U.S. today."

The channel declined to say how much money it was contributing. The program is intended to help support students in the character animation and experimental animation programs.

It is believed to be CalArts' first endowed corporate scholarship and will be named in honor of Jules Engel, the groundbreaking United Productions of America and Walt Disney Co. animator. Engel founded CalArts' program in experimental animation nearly 40 years ago.

Nickelodeon and CalArts plan to announce the scholarship Saturday at the Jules Engel centennial celebration at REDCAT. The school and channel said they plan to work together in other ways. CalArts will invite animators from the Nicktoons studio to teach and Nickelodeon plans to provide students with internships.

The school, based in Valencia, has trained many Nickelodeon animators and some of the biggest names in the business, including Stephen Hillenburg, the creator and executive producer of "SpongeBob."

Nickelodeon, part of Viacom Inc., runs an animation studio in Burbank that employs more than 400 animators who work on nearly a dozen shows.

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