November 30, 2016 Press Releases

The What Works Media Project Launches

Results for America and The Sorenson Impact Center Partner with Documentary Storytellers to Impact Policy and Change Lives

WASHINGTON, DC – Results for America and The Sorenson Impact Center have partnered with Starfish Media Group, Solutions Media, and Impact Partners to produce The What Works Media Project.

First announced at a panel at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, The What Works Media Project will harness the power of nonfiction filmmaking to highlight “what works” to advance social mobility and the courageous leaders in government who are driving this change.

The authentic, character-driven documentary shorts will profile results-driven programs that are improving lives; highlight people throughout the public sector who are driving positive social change; and demystify the use of data and evidence in programmatic development, policy making and governing.

“The scarcity of available resources paired with the explosion of available data and analytical tools should be forcing us all to ask ‘How can we dramatically improve the impact of public and private resources invested to address social challenges and improve outcomes?’” said Results for America Co-Founder and CEO Michele Jolin. “The What Works Media Project will answer that question and serve as a critical new tool in the national movement to enlist government leaders at all levels to use evidence and data to get better results for young people, their families and communities.”

Award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien will serve as Executive Producer, alongside award-winning documentary producer Mikaela Beardsley. The What Works Media Project will commission a diverse team of first-class filmmakers with deep experience creating stories that translate difficult subjects and motivate action.

“A focus on innovative, commonsense solutions can go a long way toward healing the divisiveness in politics today, and restoring Americans’ confidence in government and the social sector to solve problems,” says Jim Sorenson, founder of The Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. “Storytelling is an important tool, and we are hopeful that The What Works Media Project will be an effective force in accelerating this change.”

The project’s Advisory Board includes Diana Barrett, President of The Fledgling Fund; David Bornstein, New York Times Columnist and Co-Founder of Solutions Journalism Network; Ann Derry, founder, New York Times video; Michael Gerson, op-ed columnist for The Washington Post 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; Katherina Rosqueta, Executive Director of The Center for High Impact Philanthropy; and Cary Woods, film producer.

“At Starfish Media Group, we explore critical social issues, including the sometimes divisive issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, and poverty. The What Works Media Project is an opportunity for us to explore which evidence-based solutions successfully address those problems for the good of the people affected,” says Starfish Media Group President O’Brien.

The project will have wide-ranging impact through community events, high-profile screenings, professional gatherings, educational distribution, and digital placement across a broad array of platforms. The What Works Media Project will help spread powerful ideas with the potential to fulfill America’s promise — that every citizen has an equal opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

“I envision The What Works Media Project as a kind of ‘30 for 30’ for government and the social sector,” says Executive Director Beardsley, referring to the highly successful ESPN documentary series. “The variety of exciting and replicable solutions is matched by the diversity of talent to tell these stories.”

The What Works Media Project films will go into production in winter 2017.

About Results for America

Results for America (RFA) improves outcomes for young people, their families, and communities by shifting public resources toward evidence-based, results-driven solutions. RFA is working to achieve this goal by building a strong bipartisan “Invest in What Works” coalition; developing and advancing the next generation of evidence-based, results-driven practices, policies, and programs; and supporting leaders at all levels of government to invest in what works.

In November, 2014, Results for America published Moneyball for Governmentthe national bestselling book that brings together a group of bipartisan leaders to make the case for government at all levels to inform policy and funding decisions by the best possible data, evidence and evaluation about what works. In January, 2016, RFA published the second edition of Moneyball for Government featuring a new bipartisan chapter about the importance of using data and evidence to drive U.S. foreign assistance. For more information about Results for America, click here.

About The Sorenson Impact Center

The Sorenson Impact Center is an applied academic institution at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business dedicated to catalyzing high impact programs, policies and investments. The Center works across sectors to develop and implement innovative and data-driven strategies to address difficult social problems.

The Center’s work is performed across four broad platforms:

Policy and Innovation: Facilitating data-driven and innovative policies and programs in communities around the country aimed at measurably improving the lives of at-risk individuals and families

Global Impact Investing: Facilitating Impact Investment in the United States and abroad from investors, foundations and home-offices

Venture Capital: Raising a $25 million venture fund focused on catalytic impact investment in the United States and abroad

Field-Building Research: Research, publication and teaching in the areas of social impact and entrepreneurship

About Starfish Media Group

Starfish Media Group is an integrated media production company and distributor, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories. Starfish Media Group takes an unflinching look at the issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, poverty, telling these important stories through the eyes of compelling characters.

Founded by award-winning journalist and multifaceted broadcaster Soledad O’Brien, Starfish Media Group uniquely resonates with today’s diverse global audience through impactful topics that define our time. Soledad’s established credibility positions SMG as a mainstream voice with millions of engaged fans who follow her work via major broadcast partners, local appearances and social media channels.

About Solutions Media

The What Works Media Project is the inaugural endeavor of Solutions Media, a company formed by award-winning documentary producer Mikaela Beardsley, who originated and executive produced Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwidean Emmy Honors-recipient and multi-year global media project based on Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestselling book. Half the Sky had over 2 billion media impressions, raised $5 million for direct programs, and featured innovative partnerships with USAID, corporations such as Intel, IKEA, Goldman Sachs and Cola Cola, as well as numerous foundations including Ford, Gates, Hewlett and Rockefeller.

Solutions Media seeks to bring the unique power of documentary to communicate lived experiences and translate complex ideas into the growing field of solutions journalism. Mikaela is particularly interested in targeting audiences with decision-making power and she is excited to give the many talented filmmakers working in nonfiction new opportunities to use their voices to help shape our world.

About Impact Partners

Impact Partners is dedicated to funding independent documentary storytelling that entertains audiences, engages with pressing social issues, and propels the art of cinema forward.

For the past 10 years, Impact Partners has helped to introduce audiences to a rich world of real-life subjects and their stories, with films that have dazzled the eye, touched hearts and minds, and inspired social action.

Impact Partners’ work extends beyond just funding a project; Impact Partners provides creative mentorship and strategic guidance to every film it funds. These films have premiered at the top film festivals in the world and gone on to have impressive outreach and engagement campaigns, reaching grassroots audiences around the world and igniting impact and social change.

In addition to this work, Impact Partners is committed to supporting the wider documentary community. Impact Partners works closely with other funders, production companies, festivals, and distributors to help maintain a thriving independent documentary industry, and recently launched its own initiatives such as a consulting service and Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellowship and Salon.

Impact Partners was founded in 2007 by Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous.

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Increasing Awareness and Demand for Evidence-Based Policymaking