Documentary Screening: “American Promise”


Several area organizations that work to strengthen Des Moines’ education community will present free screenings of

American Promise,” an award-winning new documentary that explores the impact of race on school achievement. The two screenings will take place Monday, Dec. 9 at the Fleur Cinema & Café, 4545 Fleur Dr., at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. A panel discussion featuring local education leaders and students will run from 6:30-7 p.m. between screenings. Both screenings and the discussion are open to the public at no cost. Reservations are not required. Attendees may contact 271-1974 or to reserve space. 

The film follows two African-American boys from kindergarten through high school graduation at one of the most prestigious private schools in the country, but raises questions with a far greater scope. “American Promise” puts human faces to the unique social and emotional needs of black boys and challenges commonly held assumptions about education access and what really influences achievement.

Mary Sellers, president at United Way of Central Iowa, will introduce the screenings. United Way’s Education Leadership Initiative ensures students are supported during middle school and successfully make the transition from middle to high school and succeed through graduation.

Community and education leaders participating in the 6:30 p.m. panel discussion include:

Tom Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. He is completing his Doctorate in Education Leadership at Drake University, with a dissertation on student achievement factors in Iowa schools.

Deneese (Dee) Jones, provost at Drake University, where she oversees the university’s academic division.
Dawn Martinez Oropeza,
executive director of Latinas/ Latinos al Éxito, a statewide mentorship program for middle school Latinas and Latinos to motivate and prepare them for high school and postsecondary education.

Charles Mercer IV, Community Schools Coordinator at North High, and boys basketball coach through Vision Athletics, an club he founded.

Dwight Miller, founder of The Greater Men Foundation Inc., a national, non-profit organization that works to transform the lives of young men through innovative life-skills programs.
Student panelists include: Mario Cruz, a junior at Hoover High School; Kathryn Garcia, a senior at East High School; Rashaad Pryor, a senior at Lincoln High School.

Fleur Cinema & Café  generously donated theater space to host the screenings. The following organizations are joining forces to present the Dec. 9 “American Promise” screening event:  

Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation,

Drake University School of Education,


United Way of Central Iowa,

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