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New Short Film: Unlocking Investment in Rural America

By | blog, Brittney Shepherd, Policy Moves, Producer, Latest News

There’s a worn woolen blanket hanging in the opening of the old trailer. It’s the door through which Maria Alaya, her husband, and four children go in and out of their home. The insulation is falling out in big chunks, a sheet of plywood covers up huge holes in the floor. “The water comes down right here,” Maria told us, “And it pours in over here.”

GroundSpark was in Brownsville, TX a few months ago filming a short documentary to help the Obama administration address persistent rural poverty. Working with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), we created a 10-minute film that makes the case for expanded public and private partnerships that can channel desperately needed funding into long-neglected regions of the United States.

Today, we are thrilled to share this short film, Unlocking Investment in Rural America, with you.

“Groundspark is our filmmaking partner of choice for their ability to frame a social issue with power and complexity, engage viewers and lead them to action. Their work for the Uplift America Fund—a new initiative to invest in persistently poor rural communities—succeeded in elevating an issue too long ignored—bringing it to leading philanthropists, policymakers and investors and engaging them in the solution. Their ability to listen to the customer, adapt to the needs of the stakeholders, and create a product of beauty is unequalled.”

— Andrea Levere, President, CFED

In July, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the Uplift America Fund, a pool of $500 million that can be used to build much-needed infrastructure projects in communities that have suffered for decades from persistent poverty and underinvestment.

Unlocking Investment in Rural America is helping explain why the fund is needed and how public and private partners can get involved.

It’s part of POLICY MOVES, GroundSpark’s initiative to use film to make important progressive public policy more accessible and inspiring. We partner with public interest organizations, government agencies and private funders to bring the best policy efforts to life, igniting change through film.
It was a fascinating challenge to boil down research reports, dozens of statistics, the needs of the USDA, and combine those with good storytelling about the US/Mexican border, Appalachia, the Cheyenne River Reservation and the Mississippi Delta.
We are delighted that the result is helping community organizations access the new Uplift America funds and motivating other government agencies, investors, and philanthropies to find creative ways to work in persistently poor rural areas. You can watch the film here and find out more about Uplift America.

Please take a moment to learn more about POLICY MOVES, GroundSpark’s program to accelerate progressive public policy with high quality documentary filmmaking.


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