Our Work

What Works Media Project

Using the Power of Storytelling and Data-Driven Solutions to Impact Policy

The What Works Media Project is harnessing the power of non-fiction filmmaking to highlight "what works" to advance social mobility and the courageous leaders in government who are driving this change.

Watch our newest film – “The Detroit Promise Path” – directed by by award-winning filmmaker and What Works Media Project Executive Director Mikaela Beardsley.



First announced at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the What Works Media Project is a partnership between Results for America; the Sorenson Impact Center; Soledad O’Brien and Starfish Media Group; Mikaela Beardsley and Solutions Media; and Impact Partners.

The authentic, character-driven documentary shorts are profiling results-driven programs that are improving lives, highlighting leaders who are driving positive social change, and demystifying the use of data and evidence to improve decision-making and achieve better outcomes.

Led by award-winning documentary producer Mikaela Beardsley (Executive Director) and award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien (Executive Producer), the What Works Media Project partners with a diverse team of first-class filmmakers with deep experience creating stories that translate difficult subjects and motivate action.

The project’s Advisory Board includes Diana Barrett, President of The Fledgling Fund; Bonnie Benjamin Phariss, Media, Strategy and Social Impact Consultant; David Bornstein, New York Times Columnist and Co-Founder of Solutions Journalism Network; Ann Derry, founder, New York Times video; Michael Gerson, The Washington Post Columnist and former senior policy advisor to the George W. Bush administration; Kevin Madden, political commentator and former Senior Advisor to Mitt Romney; Susan Margolin, Co-Founder of New Video Group; Katherine Rosqueta, Executive Director of The Center for High Impact Philanthropy; and Cary Woods, film producer.

Through partnerships with distributors, high-profile screenings, community events, professional gatherings, educational distribution, and digital placement across a broad array of platforms, the What Works Media Project turns these human stories into powerful narratives that drive policy impact. Our goal is to spread ideas that help fulfill America’s promise — that every citizen has an equal opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

You can download the shareable WWMP 2-pager here.

Watch our What Works Media Project films and TV projects below:

This film explores the Detroit Promise Path, an evidence-based approach that aims to build on the potential of College Promise programs by offering comprehensive coaching, monthly financial supports and other services to help students stay enrolled and succeed.

This What Works Media Project documentary by award-winning filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Mikaela Beardsley follows the lives of three young people as they prepare for a rapidly changing jobs market, and highlights the promise of evidence-based workforce development programs to help them succeed. At at time when millions of American jobs are at risk due to automation and globalization, the film asks: Could our nation’s leaders meet this challenge by investing in proven models that help connect workers to the jobs of today and tomorrow?

Nationwide, roughly 80 percent of community college students will not graduate within three years. Low income students working to get ahead often struggle as they work to balance school, work and family. Yet New York City’s ASAP model found a way to double community college graduation rates, and other colleges across the country are now looking to replicate it. WWMP Executive Producer Soledad O’Brien takes a look at CUNY ASAP’s data-driven approach and how it’s making a difference in the lives of thousands of students. To learn more about the results of the CUNY ASAP model, click here.


Federal Policy