Wells Fargo and First Generation Films have teamed together to create "Go College!", an award-winning documentary meant to spark conversations about how to make going to college a reality for first-generation US citizens and low-income students.
The 95-minute film was shot over three years, and features some of the top education experts in the nation, while following four low-income students in their journey to attend college and break the cycle of poverty in their areas.
Cecilia is a first-generation US citizen, the daughter of migrant field workers and the member of a 9-person family in Bakersfield, California. Dontay is an ex-drug dealer and gang member, and now-football star living with his single mother and takes three busses and two trains to attend a school for their football team, hoping to gain a scholarship from the experience.
Jess is a waitress who works with her single mother at her grandmother's restaurant in a small town. And "Soma" lives with 9 other Samoan family members in Los Angeles.
Each of these students has high grades, extracurricular activities, and many other responsibilities facing them. However, they are all finding the path to college is not as easy as they thought it would be.
Since its introduction on March 24, local screenings of the documentary on its 10-city tour has reached 10,000 people, with over 1,000,000 more reached through social media hashtags #GoCollege and #WFCollegeTour.
"It's remarkable to know that this film is resonating with thousands of high school students across the country representing every cross-section of American culture and socio-economic background," said John Rasmussen, head of Wells Fargo's Education Financial Services. "There is an emotional connection that students, parents, educators, and civic leaders who participate in Go College! experience because it is such a passionate subject."
Seventy screenings will invite students and educators to view the movie free of charge at area high schools. After the film, viewers are invited to stay and participate in a discussion with filmmakers, cast members, and local education leaders.
"We want students to relate to the students that they see in the film and see their struggles and their successes and learn from their failures," said co-director Adam Fenderson. "By having a film cast member attend the high school and community screening, we're positioning that powerful testimony and real-world experience right in front of these first generation students."
Filmmakers Adam and Jay Fenderson are a husband and wife team from Santa Monica. "Go College!" is their first feature film. A trailer for the movie can be viewed on YouTube.
The documentary film tour will resume this fall when colleges classes start up again with the following cities on the schedule:
- Atlanta, September 15-17
- Minneapolis, October 1-3
- Dallas, October 29-31
- Houston, November 3-5
- Miami, December 8-10