As high school students begin their academic year and consider college, First Generation Films and Wells Fargo Education Financial Services are bringing the “Go College!” national education initiative to Atlanta with screenings of a one-hour version of the award-winning documentary, First Generation, at Grady, North Atlanta, Tri-Cities, and Meadowcreek high schools. In collaboration with local nonprofit Project GRAD, Go College! will reach and inspire more than 1,500 students and host a free community screening at Atlanta Metropolitan State College on Sept. 16.
The documentary portrays first generation students at a disadvantage due to their families’ unfamiliarity with college applications, scholarships, and the federal aid process. According to Dorothy Styles at Project GRAD in Atlanta, guidance counselors at some Title I schools in Atlanta oversee more than 600 students, leaving high performing first generation scholars with little support from their families or schools.
Go College! Atlanta is the sixth major city on a 10-city tour that will bring together during the Sept. 16 community screening First Generation filmmakers Jaye and Adam Fenderson, cast member Dontay Gray, local educators, student lending experts, and civic and community leaders for a panel discussion on how students can make attending college a reality. Those interested in attending the community screening may register at www.firstgenerationfilm.com/gocollegedates.
“A college education can change not just a life, but the prospects of an entire community,” said Sylvia Jones, a Wells Fargo Education Financial Services expert on paying for college, who represents the company across Georgia. “By working 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.”
Filmed over the course of three years, the First Generation documentary is narrated by two-time Golden Globe Award nominee Blair Underwood and explores the problem of college access faced by first generation and low income students. The documentary profiles the journey of four students attempting to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their communities as they pursue their college dreams.
“Our goal in making the film was to help high school students learn from their peers about the college admissions process,” said co-director Jaye Fenderson, a former senior admissions officer at Columbia University and the author of Seventeen’s Guide To Getting Into College. “But it evolved to become so much more than that — an emotional experience and message that resonated with underserved communities.”
“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. In 2011, First Generation won Best Documentary at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema and was selected as a Special Jury Award winner at the Napa Valley Film Festival in 2012.
Go College! visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oakland and Washington, D.C., in the spring, reaching an audience of 10,000 and more than 1,000,000 people across social media channels using the #GoCollege and #WFCollegeTour hashtags. This fall, the initiative will visit Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, Houston, and Dallas.
“After more than 40 years in the private student lending marketplace, Wells Fargo knows the importance of higher education,” said Jones. “Next to purchasing a home, financing a college education is one of the most important life events for our customers. First Generation is a truly inspiring film and we hope that the film and GoCollege! helps students and their families achieve their goals of obtaining a higher education.”