Can a Documentary Motivate Kids To Go To College? Wells Fargo Thinks So

Wells Fargo has just announced an initiative called Go College! Aimed at encouraging high school students, particularly low-income, minorities, and those who will be the first in their families to pursue higher education, the banking institution has partnered with the award-winning documentary film First Generation, which tells the inspirational stories of four high school students—an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers—in their quest to become the first in their families to receive a college education. 

“A college education can change not just a life, but the prospects of an entire community,” said John Rasmussen, Head of Wells Fargo’s Education Financial Services. “Wells Fargo has been part of the student lending business for more than 40 years and we recognize that paying for an education is a critical financial event for many students and their families. By partnering with First Generation Films to create the Go College! initiative, we hope to plant seeds of hope in America’s first generation students and make the prospects of achieving higher education a reality.”

The initiative will include 70 screenings in ten cities throughout 2014. Six of the seven screenings in each city will be done privately at local high schools, and the seventh will be a larger theatrical release open to the general public. But while the film may provide inspiration, it merely serves as a jumping-off point for the truly important work of the Go College! Initiative.

After each screening, Wells Fargo and First Generation will conduct a panel discussion that includes the filmmakers, private student lending and financial planning experts from Wells Fargo, and local educational leaders, and provide free information packets on college application processes, scholarship and other funding opportunities, and tips to estimate college costs, all with the goal of shrinking the higher education gap that exists with low-income, minority, and first generation college-bound students, and making college attendance a reality.

“By bringing the film directly to students and speaking with their parents, we want to remove any perceived and actual barriers to college access,” said co-Director Adam Fenderson.

The initiative will travel to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oakland and Washington DC in Spring 2014, and Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, Houston, and Dallas in the Fall.  More information on the film and the tour can be found at www.FirstGenerationFilm.com/gocollege.