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American Promise

Take Action

Take Action Around 'American Promise'

American Promise is more than a film. We hope to help fuel a campaign that mobilizes families, educators, young people and advocates to take part in conversations and actions revolving around how we can better serve black boys, ensuring that all young people are equipped with the same opportunities for excellence. This section provides four types of audience members with tangible actions they can take to help make a difference.

Facilitators, please print out the next few pages and hand them out to your audience members.


Create a Promise Club support group organized around the 10 chapters of the filmmakers' parenting book. The focus of these groups is to support the academic success and socio-emotional well being of participants' sons over the course of a yearlong program. The Promise Club will give parents and caregivers the tools and guidance to create structured and small (two to 15 people), local support groups to help their children succeed. The purpose is to provide parents with a structure in which they can help their sons pursue the highest quality education possible through encouragement, information sharing, positive motivation, critical evaluation and advocacy. More information is available at


  • Explore Active Voice's program designed to foster peer-to-peer mentorship and dialogue for young mentors and check out the American Promise youth module, both at POV's Workshops and Toolkits page.


  • Participate in online conversations about the film. Consider regularly checking discussion threads to gather wisdom from other parents and share what you have learned with your group or in local and community meetings.
  • Volunteer to mentor a young person in your community. Join the American Promise Big Brothers Big Sisters campaign or a program with a similar organization to determine where the needs are greatest and to receive guidance about how to be a successful mentor.
  • Host a screening for local and state education policy makers. Ask them to commit to at least one change or action that would directly benefit black boys.
  • Add a card to The Race Card Project, started by NPR journalist Michele Norris. Each participant summarizes his or her feelings in a single sentence composed of six words. Create your own local wall of cards and use them as prompts for further community dialogue. For examples, visit the project website, Messages there include "Stop seeing black boys as predators" (a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin) and "You talk like a white boy."


Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

This guide is an invitation to dialogue. It is based on a belief in the power of human connection, designed for people who want to use American Promise to engage family, friends, classmates, colleagues and communities. In contrast to initiatives that foster debates in which participants try to convince others that they are right, this document envisions conversations undertaken in a spirit of openness in which people try to understand one another and expand their thinking by sharing viewpoints and listening actively. The discussion prompts are intentionally crafted to help a wide range of audiences think more deeply about the issues in the film. Rather than attempting to address them all, choose one or two that best meet your needs and interests. And be sure to leave time to consider taking action. Planning next steps can help people leave the room feeling energized and optimistic, even in instances when conversations have been difficult.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will practice writing, listening and discussion skills as they learn about "code switching" -- who does it, when, where and why they do it and how it is problematic when it reinforces discrimination.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This list of fiction and nonfiction books, compiled by Erica Bess, Susan Conlon and Hanna Lee of Princeton Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary American Promise.

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