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A Cincinnati public school fights to break the cycle of poverty in its Urban Appalachian neighborhood.
A Cincinnati public school fights to break the cycle of poverty in its Urban Appalachian neighborhood.
328 backers pledged $29,181 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$29,181

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THANK YOU to everyone who helped make our Kickstarter campaign a success! For the latest information and updates on our progress, or to make a donation, please visit www.oylerdocumentary.com.

THE FILM

OYLER, produced in association with American Public Media's Marketplace, tells the story of a dramatic turnaround in one of Cincinnati’s poorest neighborhoods. Before 2006, almost no one from Lower Price Hill finished high school, much less went to college. The neighborhood is Urban Appalachian—an insular community with roots in the coal mining towns of Kentucky and West Virginia. The local Oyler School only went through 8th grade. After that, rather than ride the bus out of the neighborhood for high school, most kids dropped out.

Craig Hockenberry makes his rounds in Lower Price Hill.
Craig Hockenberry makes his rounds in Lower Price Hill.

Under Principal Craig Hockenberry’s leadership, Oyler School has transformed into a “community learning center,” serving kids from preschool through 12th grade. Oyler is open year-round, from early morning until late at night. The school provides breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sends hungry kids home with food on weekends. Students can walk down the hall to access a health clinic, vision center, and mental health counseling.

Based on the award-winning Marketplace radio series "One School, One Year," OYLER takes viewers through a year at the school, focusing on Hockenberry’s mission to transform a community, and on senior Raven Gribbins’ quest to become the first in her troubled family to finish high school and go to college. We’re there for the setbacks, as two murders close to home and a worsening heroin problem erode the school’s progress, and as budget problems threaten Principal Hockenberry’s job. We also see the triumphs, as Raven reunites with her father—a recovering addict—and gets recruited by an out-of-state college that could be her ticket to a better life.

Raven Gribbins aims to be the first in her family to finish high school.
Raven Gribbins aims to be the first in her family to finish high school.

WHY IT MATTERS

OYLER tells a gripping story of individuals fighting for change in a unique American community, but it also takes on one of our country’s most pressing challenges—the persistent achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Roughly half of the children in U.S. public schools today come from low-income families, and a debate is raging over how to help more of them succeed. Oyler School's approach—combining academic, health, and social services under one roof—is catching on around the country. But does it work? At a time of growing inequality in our society, your support will help inform the national conversation about how to fix our ailing public schools.

THE GOAL

OYLER has made it this far with the support of American Public Media and the filmmaker's own funds, with a small group of dedicated volunteers who have donated their time, creativity, and expertise. But the costs of finishing a film like this are significant. We need your help to pay for an original music score, sound mix and color correction, rights for commercial music and archival footage, and a professional website. Your contribution will get us from a solid rough cut to a polished documentary film we can share with the world!

THE TEAM

Amy Scott, Director

Amy Scott is an independent documentary filmmaker and the education correspondent for Marketplace, the public radio business and economics show. Her reporting has earned several national honors, including Gracie Awards in 2014 and 2013 and an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2012. Before joining Marketplace in 2001, she worked as a reporter in Dillingham, Alaska, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Scott has a bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied documentary filmmaking.

Patrick Wright, Editor

Patrick Wright co-produced and was associate editor for Music By Prudence, which won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and aired on HBO in May 2010. He edited the feature documentary See You Soon Again, about Baltimore-based Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz and was an Associate Producer on 12 O'Clock Boys. Wright has produced and directed films on HIV/AIDS, clergy sexual abuse, and a profile of Ann Coulter, one of the most controversial political commentators of our day. He is Chair of the Film and Video Department at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Glenn Hartong, Director of Photography

Glenn Hartong is an award-winning staff photojournalist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. His photos have appeared in dozens of publications including National Geographic, Time, Life, Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He is also a Multimedia Producer for The Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati.com, where he produces video and audio and conducts training for photographers and reporters in video production and editing. He is co-owner of ChiliDog Pictures, which specializes in short-form storytelling videos for non-profit and faith-based organizations.

Stacy Doose, Co-Director of Photography

Stacy Doose is a video producer, editor, and co-owner of ChiliDog Pictures. In 2007, Doose became a producer/editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer, where his skills brought him recognition for his video storytelling. He and partners Glenn and Malinda Hartong started ChiliDog Pictures in 2010. Accolades include a 2009 regional Emmy award for coverage of the 2008 presidential campaigns. In 2005 his documentary To The Edge, about a rappel expedition of the highest free drop in the United States, El Capitan, screened at the New York Film Festival.

REWARDS

NEW! A signed PRINT featuring one of the recently-restored rooftop statues adorning the 1930 Oyler School building. The image is 7"x7" and printed on 8"x10" paper.

Our exclusive screen printed TOTE BAG features a design by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker, a cartographic tribute to the neighborhood of Lower Price Hill, home of Oyler School. 

"Oyler at Dawn," a still by award-winning photojournalist Glenn Hartong, available as a POSTCARD or a signed 8"x10" PRINT.

Limited-edition POSTERS by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker. Each 18"x24" poster is a high quality digital print of an original drawing. Choose "Hope Blooms in Lower Price Hill," "Hatmakers" (a nod to the Oyler School mascot), or "8th and State." 

"8th and State," by Anthony Becker.
"8th and State," by Anthony Becker.
"Hope Blooms in Lower Price Hill" (left) and "Hatmakers."
"Hope Blooms in Lower Price Hill" (left) and "Hatmakers."

Risks and challenges

Every project faces risks and unforeseen obstacles, and in documentary, things often take longer than expected. I have tried to build in a considerable cushion for the reward delivery dates. You are backing a first-time filmmaker who will be navigating the wild world of marketing and distribution for the first time. But I am a seasoned journalist working with a team of highly experienced professionals and advisors who are committed to this gripping and important story. We collectively have poured years of our lives and our own resources into this film and will not stop until we see it through.

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FAQ

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    Our sincere THANKS!

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    An OYLER POSTCARD signed by the director with gratitude and a shout-out on our Facebook page.

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    A Lower Price Hill TOTE BAG with a design by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, a copy of the DVD, and a postcard signed by the director.

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    A limited-edition 8"x10" PRINT of "Oyler at Dawn," signed by award-winning photojournalist Glenn Hartong. Plus DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    NEW REWARD! A limited-edition 7"x7" PRINT of the Oyler statue of a student reading, signed by filmmaker Patrick Wright. Plus DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    Receive ON-SCREEN SPECIAL THANKS in the final credits of the film. Plus the DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    A limited-edition "Hatmakers" POSTER signed by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker. Plus on-screen thank you credit, DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    A limited-edition "Hope Blooms in Lower Price Hill" POSTER signed by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker. Plus on-screen thank you credit, DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    NEW REWARD! A limited-edition "8th and State" POSTER signed by Cincinnati artist Anthony Becker. Plus on-screen thank you credit, DVD, special thanks on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    LICENSE TO SCREEN OYLER at your educational institution, non-profit group, or community center. Includes DVD, discussion guide, special thanks on screen and on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    A one-on-one STORY WORKSHOP with the director via Skype or phone (or in-person if in the Baltimore/Washington area). Get feedback on your radio story or documentary or tips on interviewing and working with sound. Plus DVD, special thanks on screen and on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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    2 TICKETS to a Cincinnati or Baltimore screening + DINNER/AFTER-PARTY with the filmmaker and available cast and crew. Includes DVD, special thanks on screen and on our website and Facebook page, and postcard. (Sorry, travel not included.)

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    A significant ON-SCREEN FUNDER CREDIT in the film. Plus 2 tickets to a Cincinnati or Baltimore screening, dinner/after party, DVD, credit on our website and Facebook page, and postcard. (Travel not included.)

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    An on-screen "MADE POSSIBLE BY" FUNDER CREDIT. Plus 4 TICKETS to a Cincinnati or Baltimore screening, dinner/after party, Lower Price Hill tote bag, DVD, credit on our website and Facebook page, and postcard. (Travel not included.)

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    A private or community SCREENING followed by in-person Q&A with the filmmaker and, if available, others involved with the film (continental U.S. only). Plus an on-screen "MADE POSSIBLE BY" FUNDER CREDIT, tote bag, DVD, credit on our website and Facebook page, and postcard.

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Funding period

- (30 days)