The Ford Foundation

On March 25, 2010, the Ford Foundation approved a grant of $100,000 to HCD Fund for support of the implementation of a national outreach, dissemination and education campaign around the film “The Farm: 10 Down.”

The funds from the grant were used for a national campaign of outreach and dissemination, engaging with community, advocacy, and educational organizations, using the film to inspire and inform discussions of criminal justice policy reform. Specifically, funds will be used for:

• Development of curricula and educational tools for various audiences;
• Further development and population of web community (Gabriel City) and internet and interactive outreach materials;
• Travel and Events (Film Screenings) – to bring subjects including Ashanti Witherspoon, “The Bishop” Tanniehill, and Warden Burl Cain, and the principles to screening events to meet with audiences;
• Evaluation – a rigorous program of focus groups, which will evaluate the impact of viewing the film on policy perceptions.

The fulfillment of the activities in this grant have laid the groundwork for our long-term initiative to promote, distribute, and evangelize for the film, “The Farm: 10 Down”, as a tool to promote social justice, specifically to create greater awareness of the crisis of mass incarceration and demand for necessary policy reform. The work has gone exceptionally well, out-performing our expectations both in terms of the number, nature and quality of activities and outputs. This is true largely because each activity, particularly the screening/town hall events, creates a multiplier effect in which many audience members ask to hold similar events and request user guides as materials for that purpose, as well as appearances by the filmmakers, giving us greater opportunity to dialogue nationally. This fact, combined with the fact that we had unexpectedly large audiences, has created a viral effect on demand for use of the film to inform and inspire discussions of criminal justice reform.

Most importantly, audience members are regularly surprised by their own reactions to the film; namely the empathy that they develop for characters whom they would never have encountered and would previously have deemed as unworthy “criminals” and not as human beings. This change in audience members’ perceptions of the massive incarcerated population in the US is universal and the most important contribution the film makes to society, as it is the basis for all social and political change.

The important work now is to continue to build on that empathy, expanding, consolidating and galvanizing the audience as the basis for a growing movement to achieve social justice and address our crisis of mass incarceration. The timing is great to further this discussion, as politicians and correctional departments are facing severe budget cuts and need the political will to reduce and reform sentencing and increase community supervision.

The Fledgling Fund

On November 16, 2010, Highest Common Denominator Fund was awarded $20,000 from The Fledgling Fund, for the creation and distribution of facilitation guides for the meaningful discussion of “The Farm: 10 Down” as a tool for social change.

The Fledgling Fund seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals, families and communities by supporting innovative media projects that target entrenched social problems.

The monies received from this grant will go towards development of curricula and educational tools for various audiences in support of “The Farm: 10 Down.”

The Arcus Foundation

On June 30, 2010, the Arcus Foundation awarded Highest Common Denominator Fund $140,000 in support of MideastYouth to create an interactive, creative platform tracking abuses in the Middle East and North Africa, while also providing a reliable, safe multimedia platform for LGBT people and to interact.

The Arcus Foundation is the leading global philanthropic funder advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues.

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