Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 14, 2012.

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A film 12-years in the making about the educational journey of two middle class African-American boys. Broadcasting on POV in 2013.

Sending our sweet son Miles to panhandle might not raise us the $50,000 to cover remaining post-production costs for American Promiseour documentary, 12-years in the making. So, to help Miles out we're turning to Plan B: virtual panhandling.

Check out our working trailer:

The Context

As you probably know, America’s education system is in trouble. And for young black males, it’s in crisis. Black boys are twice as likely as whites to be held back in elementary school, three times as likely to be suspended from school, and half as likely to graduate from college.

The Film

We had these startling statistics in mind twelve years ago, when we decided to send our son Idris to a prestigious school in NYC.  We turned the camera on ourselves, Idris and his best friend, Seun in order to make sense of the harsh realities facing black males in today's schools.

Twelve years later, Idris and Seun are seniors in high school, and we're now in the midst of our final year of shooting. Since 1999, we've brought the camera along — into our home, into classrooms, to conferences, on school trips, on college tours, to prom and everywhere in between— to capture the year-to-year ups and downs as well as the perspectives of students, parents, teachers and administrators who are all striving for academic excellence. Through the years, we've documented our personal family struggles, and the boys' experience with privilege, stereotypes, culture clashes, learning differences and two eventual divergent paths in education.

The Impact

As the first-ever big picture longitudinal piece exploring the issue, we believe American Promise is of historical and social significance. American Promise is the centerpiece of a comprehensive, cross-platform engagement campaign aimed at engaging parents, youth and teachers to come together to advocate for the academic success of young men of color. Premiering at film festivals in January 2013 and broadcasting nationwide on POV in 2013, the film and the campaign have the potential to spur a new kind of dialogue and action around the subtle factors that affect the success of male students of color. 

The Ask

We have started the editing process and we are finishing our final months of shooting. Our big task now is to turn 12 years of footage into one high-quality, exceptionally compelling, four star-worthy feature documentary. So we're turning to our family of supporters to help us raise the funds to:

  • finish the editing, 
  • do the sound mix, 
  • and score the film.

Over the last 12 years, American Promise has received backing from The Ford Foundation, The Fledgling Fund, The Sundance Documentary Fund, Open Society Foundation, San Francisco Film Society, Tribeca Gucci Documentary Fund, National Black Programming Consortium and the New York State Council on the Arts.  But we still need your help to reach completion.  

By supporting American Promise, you'll help us ensure that we create a high-quality film that engages audiences visually and emotionally. More importantly, you're supporting the belief that the achievement gap in education is not inevitable and that we--as parents, teachers, and community members--have the power to work together to create lasting change for our children.

With gratitude,

Joe & Michèle

Please Note: Because American Promise will be on Public Television, no donor can remain anonymous; we will eventually need everyone's real name and address.  If you have questions about this, please contact us at promise12years@gmail.com.

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280
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    4 backers

    Mommy & Me level: A half-day of singing songs with mom, crawling practice AND a one-of-a-kind original piece of artwork by our very own Miles (the kid in the video).

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    27 backers

    Preschool Level: A warm hug, a mid-day nap with all your friends AND some thank you love from us to you on your Facebook wall.

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    25 backers

    Kindergarten: The above + a reading of "Goodnight Moon," extra show 'n tell time AND Your name featured on the backers page of the American Promise website.

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    39 backers

    1st grade: Everything above + a trip to the zoo, recess with the big kids AND a signed still print from American Promise, featuring photogenic Brooklyn and photographed by our Academy Award-winning DP.

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    7 backers

    2nd grade: Everything above + a new little sibling to torture, an extra large cubby hole, AND a bag of coffee beans from Michele's home country, Haiti.

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    62 backers

    3rd grade: Everything above + 3 free hall passes, extra chocolate milk at lunch AND a signed copy of the American Promise DVD (upon release).

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    3 backers

    4th grade: Everything above + the lead in the school play,the best seat on the school bus AND a half-hour fundraising and/or community engagement strategy phone consultation with our coordinator, Six Foot Chipmunk.

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    23 backers

    6th grade: Everything above + a sleepover, a shout-out on morning announcements AND a limited-edition American Promise t-shirt.

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    7 backers

    8th grade: Everything above + a date for the school dance, a last carefree breath of childhood before high school AND a signed copy of our forthcoming book Promises Kept.

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    2 backers

    Freshman year: Everything above + courage, self-confidence, bully repellent AND the signed Rada Film DVD Collection --The Keeper, Slaying Goliath, Faces of Change and the Killing Zone.

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    4 backers

    Senior year: Everything above + keys to mom's car, winning college applications, a prom crown AND an invitation for two to attend our VIP premiere event in New York City (travel not included).

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    Graduation: Everything above + a bright future AND a two-night stay in a quiet cottage in Woodstock, NY (travel not included)

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Funding period

- (30 days)