Levilyn Chriss smiling in front of Governors State University themed backdrop


The Levilyn Chriss Memorial Scholarship in Film at Governors State isn't a tuition support fund. It's a cash award for production support to assist Governors State Film students in creating meaningful work as required by their educational pursuits.

If you are at Governors State and making a film with a social conscience and having trouble covering the costs, please apply for this competitive scholarship.

If you are a grad of Governors State, knew and loved Levilyn, or if you simply like what we're trying to do here - please donate anything you can. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Eligibility Criteria:  
  1. Must be a degree seeking student enrolled at Governors State University

  2. Any undergraduate or graduate student in any Film path major at GSU including: undergraduate students with a minor in Film, BFA film majors and MFA students in Independent Film & Digital Imaging.
Documentation Required:
  1. One page essay of need describing your film project including a budget outlining the associated expenses requested.
Amount of Award – up to $1,000 for production support (Dollar amount and number of awards are based on the availability of current use funds each year).

Levilyn Chriss laughing while holding film camera


Levilyn Chriss smiling while holding film camera

Levilyn Chriss was admitted to Governors State as a graduate student in 2013 and graduated in 2016. She inspired everyone she knew with her kindness and her will as a social conscience filmmaker.

Levilyn initially had a difficult time as a new graduate student. She had financial struggles at first, then found work within the university, and became known among fellow staff as their much loved 'Ma.'

On GSU's film path, she worked for more than a year in making "The Louisiana Project," a thesis documentary about the personal repercussions of her father's death in Katrina.

She was feeling defeated by the unaffordable costs of adding network footage from the hurricane to her film until a night in 2015, when Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films visited GSU as our guest. He explained to her the new rules of Fair Use that he had helped to author, which facilitate the incorporation of news footage into documentaries for personal, transformative purposes.

Levilyn added the footage and finished her film. "The Louisiana Project" went on to win the Best Documentary prize at the 2018 Philadelphia Independent Film Awards.

Upon graduation, she was hired as a full time lecturer at Chicago State University. Professor Chriss continued to work there proudly until she died due to complications of a pulmonary embolism in April 2020. She was much loved by her students.

She was a perpetually optimistic soul with a boundless maternal heart, much loved, now deeply missed. This scholarship honors her memory, and honors those she would have loved to have taught.


Please help move us toward our goal of $25,000. Reaching that target will help us create an endowment in Levilyn's name to ensure her legacy of supporting student film projects continues in perpetuity.

Any gesture of support - large or small - for the Levilyn Chriss Memorial Film Arts Scholarship at GSU will be greatly appreciated.

All donors will be acknowledged on the website with Founders listed first.

Levilyn Chriss as a child smiling for photo

Level One: Friends of Levilyn

 Donations of $5-45

Levilyn Chriss smiling for photo

Level Two: I Can Afford to Give a Little More

 Donations of $50-100

Levilyn Chriss speaking at a podium

Level Three: Founder

 Donations of $500 and higher

*Donations to this fund through the Governors State University Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent of the law and all donors will receive an acknowledgement & tax letter


How much money does the Levilyn Chriss Memorial Film Arts Scholarship distribute every year?

The amount and numbers of scholarships awarded will vary dependent upon funds available. Our goal is to significantly reduce the production cost burden for as many students as possible, and we would love to be able to award each student who applies $1,000.

You can help us create a self-sustaining fund with your donation towards our $25,000 goal.

Does the Levilyn Chriss Memorial Scholarship distribute recurring scholarships or should applicants re-apply each year?

Each award is a one-time award, and students are welcome to apply each year, however in general we anticipate awarding the scholarship to applicants who have not previously been awarded this scholarship.

Is there a deadline for applying?

We will open applications once we have received enough funding to award the scholarship at a level that will make significant difference to a student’s production costs.

We expect to review applications annually around each spring semester and expect funds to be disbursed by the end of spring semester.

How do I apply?

  1. Ensure you meet the criteria listed above.

  2. Complete the current semester’s GSU Foundation Scholarship Application Form.

  3. One page essay of need describing your film project including a budget outlining the associated expenses requested.

  4. Email completed packet to foundationscholarships@govst.edu by the deadline listed above. 

For more information, please contact the Governors State University Foundation Scholarships Office at foundationscholarships@govst.edu or call 708.534.4128.