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American Promise Debuts at Sundance Festival with an Urgent Call to Action

Groundbreaking Documentary Follows Two African American Boys over 12 Years at Home and School Explores Race, Class and Opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Sundance Film Festival announced its selection of American Promise for the 2013 festival.  The provocative documentary spans 12-years as two middle class African American parents turn their cameras on their son and his best friend, as they make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the nation.  As the boys grow, audiences also come to see complicated truths about America's struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity.


"All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys," said the film's Co-Producer Michele Stephenson.  "American Promise shines a light on these issues so we can begin to address them.  We are proud to be working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters' Mentoring Brothers in Action program to offer a proven and immediate way for all Americans to do their part to unlock the potential of all our youth."

The filmmakers will also launch a national campaign at Sundance to help raise $100,000 and 100,000 volunteer hours for Big Brothers Big Sisters' Mentoring Brothers in Action program. The program's goal is to recruit mentors, particularly men of color, and expand the organization's capacity to serve more African American boys, who represent the largest group of "Littles" and children waiting for "Bigs."  Longstanding research finds that compared to their peers, Big Brothers Big Sisters' mentees are more likely to improve in school and see a positive change in their behavior and self-esteem. This call to action will be an integral part of the film's 2013 festival tour.

"We applaud the American Promise filmmakers for taking on such a personal and meaningful topic," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President & CEO Charles Pierson.  "We are proud that our Mentoring Brothers in Action program gives the American Promise audience immediate and direct ways to become a part of the solution."

Following the Sundance competition, the directors of American Promise will be screening their documentary at dozens of film festivals across the nation. 

PBS's award-winning documentary series POV (Point of View) will broadcast American Promise in 2013, and Random House will publish a companion book about the film and the issues it raises in conjunction with the American Promise Campaign. 

About American Promise Campaign

In partnership with trusted organizations around the country, the American Promise campaign team will mobilize young people, families and educators to take part in conversations and actions around how we can better serve our black boys, ensuring that all our young people are equipped with the same opportunities for excellence. Unlike other projects that focus solely on what is commonly referred to as the "achievement gap," this campaign acknowledges the stereotypes and biases that hinder the growth of young black men, identifies ways that parents and educators can better support black boys' social and emotional needs and encourages Americans to consider the role we play in advancing success for all children. This campaign will be supported by a set of strategic tools, coming in 2013 and 2014:a book by acclaimed author Hillary Beard and published through Random House, guided hyper-local parent-student support groups, a Mobile App that provides regular tips for parents and more.

For more information, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships.  Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children ("Littles") with screened volunteer mentors ("Bigs") and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course.  The first-ever Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary, released in 2012, substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, as well as areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency, and college or job readiness.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, and professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.  These children are often those of single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization's 100-year history.  With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 630,000 children, volunteers and families. Learn how you can positively impact a child's life by donating or volunteering at

About POV

Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and now in its 25th season on PBS, the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today's best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 325 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. In 2012, POV achieved a new milestone, winning five News & Documentary Emmy Awards®. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today's most pressing social issues. Visit

SOURCE Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

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