Social Impact

HOW ODYSSEY MAKES IMPACT

Social Impact Campaigns

 

A Social Impact Campaign is a strategic engagement program providing the resources for faith and secular communities to address the most critical social issues in our society. The guiding principle of each campaign is to use film to raise audience awareness, shifting attitudes and inspiring action among people of faith and goodwill.

 

The result?  A society connected, engaged and united.

 

Unique in the emerging impact media landscape, Odyssey Impact’s social impact campaigns use documentaries as tools to educate, build awareness and prompt action among both secular and faith-based change makers. By tapping into the attention and resources of locally based organizations, place of worship, campuses and advocates, Odyssey Impact creates opportunities for constructive dialogue, learning, interfaith collaboration, and civic engagement on issues that often divide–rather than unite–us. Working closely with secular and faith-based organizers and leaders, and customizing our approaches to the needs and priorities of each particular film, we deploy a tried-and-tested formula for using film as a vehicle for community engagement and social action.

 

Our campaigns are multi-phased endeavors that pair deep strategy work with diligent execution. Every full-service campaign includes a six-week Landscape Analysis Phase and a six-month (or more) Active Impact Campaign Phase.

 

Working with Odyssey Impact

 

To begin a conversation about collaborating with Odyssey Impact, please submit your film and any related press or social impact materials (press kits, decks, discussion guides) to [email protected].  We look forward to discussing your needs, answering your questions, and providing a quote for our proposed services.

OUR ACTIVE CAMPAIGNS

With a 30-year history of building coalitions around more than 1,000 films and videos, Odyssey Impact reaches and empowers coalitions of change makers to build strong communities anchored by compassion, justice and hope.

 

Odyssey Impact believes in the power of stories to inspire social justice. We use multimedia content to amplify and lift up these stories and to raise audience awareness, shifting attitudes and inspiring action.

TRAPPED: CASH BAIL IN AMERICA

“Every year, millions of Americans are incarcerated before even being convicted of a crime – all because they can’t afford to post bail. How did we get here? “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” shines a light on our deeply flawed criminal justice system and the activists working to reform it. This new documentary explores the growing movement to end the inherent economic and racial inequalities while highlighting victims impacted by an unjust system, the tireless campaigners fighting for criminal justice reform, and a bail industry lobbying to maintain the status quo. “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” is produced and written by Chris L. Jenkins and edited and directed by Garrett Hubbard.”

 

Odyssey Impact will conduct the national social impact campaign designed to educate, engage and activate the public around the important and timely issue of cash bail in America, while highlighting the multifaceted ways in which cash bail punishes individuals, upends families, and destabilizes communities; all without a guilty verdict.

 

If you are interested in participating in the campaign by hosting a screening in your community or partnering with us for this campaign, please contact [email protected]

STRANGER/SISTER

The United States is experiencing a surge in hate crimes as a tide of white supremacy gathers momentum nationwide. Muslim and Jewish communities are particularly at risk. Stranger/Sister is the story of two ordinary women, one Muslim and one Jewish, who dare to believe they can join hands to stop the wave of hate. Overcoming a long history of distrust between their two religions, they build a movement that turns strangers into sisters, challenging our assumptions about how to fight hate in America. Intimately following women from Sisterhood chapters in Austin, Chicago and across the Nation, the Sisters build a powerful network of hope in a time of chaos and hate.

 

Odyssey Impact will conduct the national social impact campaign for the relevant documentary film designed to stop hate and teach people how to unite by building trust with each other through relationships.

 

If you are interested in participating in the campaign by hosting a screening in your community or partnering with us for this campaign, please contact [email protected] or visit https://strangersister.odyssey-impact.org

HEALING THE HEALERS

When mass trauma strikes, faith leaders are called upon to guide and sustain communities through the aftermath. Their role is to help us heal.

 

But who heals the healers?

 

Healing the Healers is a new media resource intended to support clergy, laity, social workers, first responders and other spiritual care providers facing community-level trauma. The five-part film series is accompanied by a discussion guide including written reflections by scholars, clergy and other experts.

 

In the series, Rev. Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church, leads an important conversation with faith leaders who’ve experienced mass trauma, either suddenly, as at Newtown or during 9/11, or through ministering to a community facing chronic violence, such as Hartford, CT or St. Louis, MO.

 

If you are interested in hosting a screening in your community, or purchasing Healing the Healers for your institution, please visit healingthehealers.org.

RUN FOR HIS LIFE

At first glance, Repeter ‘Pete’ Monsanto lives a glamorous life – a celebrity photographer who works with boldface names like Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean and others. But look deeper and you will see a man with father-sized hole in his life. When he was just six years old, Pete’s father, Peter Monsanto, was arrested and convicted of racketeering and sentenced to life without parole. Pete remembers vividly when he was just six years old and law enforcement burst into his home in the middle of the night and took his father away. Life had been good for him before that – his family lived in the luxury that comes with being the son of a drug kingpin – courtside seats at Madison Square Garden, great clothes, etc. Although Pete Sr. was running a criminal enterprise, he was also a constant and reliable presence in his son’s life. When you’re that young, you don’t know what your Dad does for a living, you just love him. When his dad was sent away, Pete’s life changed dramatically. His mom worked hard to hold the family together, in spite of a difficult journey that included bouts of entanglement in the shelter system. It’s a common tale for the children of the incarcerated, for whom Pete is now an advocate. He is a board advisor for We Got Us Now – a movement built by, led by & about CoIP (Children of Incarcerated Parents).

 

For 32 years, Pete and his father have worked to maintain a long distance relationship, mostly by weekly phone conversations. Pete Sr. is now 69, and since his incarceration he has maintained a disciplined routine, keeping mind and body strong while running in the prison yard. Trying to be a positive force in his son’s life in spite of his criminal past and its consequences. Pete is now the same age his father was when he was sent away. Inspired by his father’s strength and resilience, Pete will run the 2018 NYC marathon. His participation in the 26-mile race through their hometown is the subject of a new project by Transform Films©: “Run for His Life.”

 

If you are interested in hosting a screening in your community or partnering with us for this campaign, please contact [email protected] or visit www.runforhislife.com

THE SENTENCE

The Sentence explores the devastating consequences of mass incarceration and mandatory minimum drug sentencing through the story of Cindy Shank, a mother of three young children serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for her tangential involvement in a Michigan drug ring years before. A lyrical, intimate story documented over 10 years by Cindy’s younger brother, filmmaker Rudy Valdez, The Sentence follows Cindy’s struggles to be present in her children’s lives from behind bars and her daughters’ experiences growing up without their mother at home, while her husband, parents and siblings fight for her release before the last months of the Obama administration’s Clemency Project. After winning the 2018 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival The Sentence was acquired by HBO.

 

Odyssey Impact is collaborating with director Rudy Valdez and production company Park Pictures to launch a six-month community engagement and impact campaign for The Sentence in January 2020, with the aim of bringing the film to the experts, stakeholders and families experiencing the wide-ranging impacts of parental incarceration.

 

If you are interested in hosting a screening in your community, or if you are interested in partnering with us for this campaign, please contact [email protected].

OUR PAST CAMPAIGNS

MURDER TO MERCY: THE CYNTOIA BROWN STORY

Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story navigates the complex circumstances surrounding a 16-year-old girl who committed murder in Tennessee.  Beginning in 2004 when Cyntoia Brown was first arrested, and filmed over 15 years through extraordinary access, this feature documentary explores the justice system through the lens of one girl’s story.  We gain insight into her mental health, her biological and adoptive families, and how her actions led to being convicted of felony murder and receiving a life sentence (60 years) in prison.  Through perseverance, activism, and legislative and legal changes, we see how a series of events led to her early release from prison after serving just 15 years.

 

This documentary premieres on Netflix in April 2020

THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR

Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama. Common in Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice.

 

The film exposes a legacy of physical abuse of black women and reveals Rosa Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story. An attempted rape against Parks was but one inspiration for her ongoing work to find justice for countless women like Mrs. Taylor. The 1955 bus boycott was an end result, not a beginning.

 

The film has screened at Venice Film Festival where it received the Special Prize for Human Rights Award (2017) and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards. It made its National Television Broadcast on STARZ July 2, 2018.

 

If you are interested in hosting a screening in your community or partnering with us for this campaign, please contact [email protected] or visit therapeofrecytaylor.com.

 

MILWAUKEE 53206

MILWAUKEE 53206 chronicles the harsh reality of those living in the zip code that incarcerates the highest proportion of African American men, up to 62%. Through the intimate stories of three 53206 residents, we witness the high toll that excessive sentencing and mass incarceration takes on individuals and families. Beverly Walker, a mother of five, tirelessly works to raise her children and free her husband Baron from an excessive prison sentence. Chad Wilson, a newly released citizen, confronts the uphill battle of finding viable employment with the help of Dennis Walton who works with fathers re-entering society from prison.

 

MILWAUKEE 53206 personalizes the crisis of mass incarceration and intimately depicts the destructive hold this system has on the families and the communities it affects. The stories in this film are not unique to 53206 and can be used to inspire change in ZIP codes across the country. MILWAUKEE 53206 can be used as a tool to educate and activate your community, house of worship, university, and/or workplace.

 

To date the film has been awarded the Special Recognition Award at the (In)Justice for All Film Festival 2017, Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival 2017, National Council on Crime and Delinquency Media for a Just Society Award and more. Additionally, on Thursday, September 13 the film screened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The screening was followed by a panel moderated by Odyssey Impact’s Head of Social Impact and Communications, Melissa C. Potter, with Van Lathan, Senior Producer at TMZ and host of the Red Pill Podcast, Twyla Carter, Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, Rev. Derrick Harkins, Senior Vice President for Innovation in Public Programs at Union Theological Seminary, Indira Henard, Executive Director at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center and very special guests Baron and Beverly Walker, featured in the documentary. Baron was released from prison after 22+ years on August 17, 2018.

 

To learn more about MILWAUKEE 53206 visit milwaukee53206.com.

 

ODYSSEY FELLOWS

The Program

 

The Odyssey Fellows program supports graduate students at theological schools, and the field education faculty and programming of their institution. The program’s goal is to support and train these emerging faith leaders working in communities to engage difficult civic issues and provide resources for seminaries to meet the growing needs of contextual education. Engaging the immersive power of documentary film, Fellows convene brave and healing conversations across lines of difference within their community, resulting in faithful actions inspired by their leadership. Odyssey Fellowships support the valuable intersection of innovative new leaders, the wisdom of educational institutions, and the on-the-ground opportunities of faith-related communities.

 

Through the course of an academic year, the Fellows’ work has two basic phases. In the fall semester, they engage various subsets of their community, using the power of documentary film to spark conversation on a selected civic issue, such as mass incarceration, racial injustice, gender-based violence, or gun violence. These conversations, paired with engagement of those in the community most affected by the issue, shape discernment of exactly how the Fellows and the congregations feel moved to act. In the spring, these conversations culminate in each Fellow’s leadership of a community-generated action or response to the issue, as well as theological/scholarly reflection within the rubrics of each institution.

 

Not only does Odyssey Impact provide access to powerful media and written resources to the Fellows, their seminaries and congregations and organizations they serve, but also engagement with filmmakers and film subjects, roles in the process of creating support materials for faith communities, leadership opportunities across Odyssey’s virtual and in-person events and screenings, as well as innovative training experiences with leading experts and practitioners. An Odyssey Fellow will graduate with skills to engage both faith and secular spheres, and gain fluency in using film to inspire brave conversations, new partnerships and faithful actions in response to complex difficult civic issues.

 

Perhaps best of all, Fellows experience the transformative power of their cohort: dialogue and relationship with talented peers from other institutions and regions. Odyssey believes that when emerging leaders are properly supported, they are often allowed to experiment with different ways that they might engage on tough issues, with new community partners. With the Odyssey Fellows program, everyone wins: tough conversations are advanced, new partnerships are built, and faithful action happens!

Meet the Fellows

Class of 2020-21

 

The 2020-21 Odyssey Fellows cohort is a diverse, talented group of emerging leaders, engaging justice issues within faith spheres, innovating new ways of virtually convening communities via film and healing conversations.

Fellow Jonese Austin

Fellow Jonese Austin

Jonese Austin (Atlanta, GA)
Candler School of Theology | Ebenezer Baptist Church

 

Deirdre “Jonese” Austin (she/her/hers) is a writer and justice seeker. She aspires to employ a radical love ethic in working towards healing and wholeness through good theology, research, direct action, and public policy; she hopes to enter a career at the intersections of ministry, academia, nonprofit work, and politics. Jonese understands her calling as one dedicated to exploring the ways in which healing can be facilitated in and through the Black Baptist Church, and her research interests lie at the intersections of religion, race, justice, and healing. Currently, Jonese is a second year Master of Divinity student at Candler School of Theology pursuing certificates in Black Church Studies and Baptist Studies. She is also a licensed Baptist minister, licensed at the historic Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in DC, who will be interning at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church this fall. In 2019, Jonese graduated from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, with honors, where she majored in Culture and Politics focusing on Religion and Social Justice, minored in African American Studies, and earned a certificate in Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs. Her favorite scripture is Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God,” and she lives by the philosophy and Emily Dickinson quote, “If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain.” As an Odyssey Fellow, Jonese is most looking forward to having brave and healing conversations on topics related to mass incarceration, especially amidst the Christian-Jewish interfaith fellowship of young professionals of Ebenezer and the Temple.

Fellow Ristina Gooden

Fellow Ristina Gooden

Ristina Gooden (Nashville, TN)
Vanderbilt Divinity School | Faith Matters Network

 

Ristina Gooden (she/her/hers) is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently a divinity student at Vanderbilt Divinity School where she is concentrating on Black Religion and Cultural Studies as well as Religion, Gender, and Sexuality. For the 2020-2021 school year, Ristina will serve as student government President for the divinity school. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from The Ohio State University. Previously, Ristina had a nearly 10-year career as an event planner at both The Ohio State University and Spelman College. In that career, Ristina has managed over 4,500 events. Ristina has a passion for womanism, equity, cultural competency, and community building which is why doing her field education at Faith Matters Network, womanist-led organization focused on personal and social transformation, was the perfect fit. With their vision of a world of people living in just communities rooted in wisdom, spiritual practices, healing, and courage, Ristina has found a home with kindred spirits. She has begun her ordination process within the Baptist denomination and looks forward to becoming a pastor as well as a birth doula. In her spare time, which is rare, Ristina loves baking and cheering on her Ohio State University Buckeyes during football season.

Fellow Lauren Johnson

Fellow Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson (Denver, CO)
Iliff School of Theology | Soul 2 Soul Sisters

 

Lauren Johnson (she/her/hers) is a Southern California native and earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Howard University in Washington, DC. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Divinity at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO with a concentration in Pastoral Care. The Lord placed a burden on Lauren’s heart for Black women who desire healing from wounds of emotional, relational, and spiritual trauma by helping them return to their first loves—God and self. She is passionate about Womanism, healing, liberation, and all matters of the heart. This fall, Lauren will intern with Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a faith-based, Black womxn-led, racial justice organization focused on Black healing and Black liberation. Divine providence led her to the organization as their sacred devotion to their work on providing advocacy, resources, healing, and a voice for Black women aligns perfectly with Lauren’s calling. Lauren will soon begin the process of licensing and ordination in the American Baptist denomination and plans to start a public ministry that will change the lives of Black women. Lauren is a graphic + web designer and owner of Providence & Design, LLC. She enjoys spending time with friends, hiking in the beautiful Colorado mountains, anything floral, and basking in the sun.

Fellow Oriana Mayorga

Fellow Oriana Mayorga

Oriana Mayorga (New York, NY)
Union Theological Seminary (NY) | CONNECT

 

Oriana Mayorga (she/her/ella) is the granddaughter of Caridad Esperanza Pereyra, Margarita Mayorga and Henry Mayorga Sr. She is the daughter of Henry Mayorga Jr. and Dr. Norma Fuentes-Mayorga. Oriana is born and raised New Yorker, community organizer, harm reductionist, artist and recipient of the Justice and Peace Scholarship at Union Theological Seminary. The lived experiences of her Latinx family inspire her daily to fight for justice. Oriana is dedicated to dismantling structural oppression, promoting racial justice and ending violence against womyn, as well as building healthier, accountable communities. Currently, Oriana serves on the leadership council of her Bronx-based church New Day, where she is focused on building the mutual aid ministry. In 2018, while working as the community ministries intern for the St. James United Methodist Church in Kingston, NY, Oriana had the opportunity to preach her first sermon at the Clinton Avenue UMC church. Upon returning from her year away in upstate New York, she briefly worked in a south Bronx syringe exchange. She is a longtime advocate of ending the war on drugs, fighting for accessible psychedelic medicine for all and is the Vice Chair of the board of directors for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Oriana received her bachelor of science from Fordham University in 2014 and a graduate certificate in Harm Reduction Psychotherapy from the New School of Research in 2016. In 2022, she will graduate with her Masters of Divinity with a concentration in social ethics from Union Theological Seminary. As an Odyssey Fellow, Oriana is most excited to facilitate healing circles with survivors of intimate violence during her internship at CONNECT to promote the healing and growth of some of NYC’s faith leaders.

Fellow Staci Plonsky

Fellow Staci Plonsky

Staci Plonsky (Cocoa, FL)
Iliff School of Theology | Suntree United Methodist Church

 

Staci Plonsky (she/her/hers) has felt a call to ministry and social justice work since she was a preteen. She has served in ministry in many capacities, including as a camp counselor, a youth director, and a children’s director. Staci has also attended to hundreds of families as a certified birth and postpartum doula, as well as training new doulas. A graduate of Florida Southern College, Staci is currently earning her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology, is a certified candidate for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, and serves as intern at Suntree United Methodist Church. Staci is most excited to learn how churches can partner with their communities to promote mercy and justice. Staci resides with her husband and three children in Cocoa, Florida with horses, chickens, dog and cats. Staci loves camping and visiting Florida theme parks with her family.

Fellow Darrin Sims

Fellow Darrin Sims

Darrin “D.J.” Sims (Atlanta, GA)
Candler School of Theology | Providence Missionary Baptist Church

 

“Theo-Organizer” Darrin Lamont Sims Jr. (he/him/his) was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up in such a racially divisive city had a large impact on the way Darrin saw social justice, even from a young age. At Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, he double majored in Political Science and History. Upon graduation, Darrin served as a teacher for Teach for America in Nashville and St. Louis. It was during the Ferguson Uprising that Darrin decided to focus on community organizing and abolition. Soon after, Darrin followed the Lord’s guidance to move to Atlanta, Georgia and enter Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Since then, Darrin has devoted his work and research to social justice through a theological lens. Darrin currently teaches, preaches and organizes around faith-based approaches to reducing recidivism, voter suppression and police and prison abolition in southwest Atlanta, Georgia, building on his recent involvement in the Theology and Racialized Policing Cohort Program of Sojourners Network, and his continued role as Community Manager for The People’s Supper. Darrin is most excited about the holistic reentry work this fellowship will allow him to continue at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta. He is supported by his beautiful wife Chauncey and their two children Emmett and Zora.

Class of 2019-20

Fellow Erica Bitting

Fellow Erica Bitting

Fellow Vincent Jones

Fellow Vincent Jones

PARTNERS

At the heart of Odyssey’s Impact mission is connecting people, communities, and organizations to the stories that uplift our society’s most pressing issues. Organizational and individual partners are vital to our work, and we are thankful to those working alongside us, particularly because their work is often behind the scenes. In particular, our partner relationships are critically important to our on-the-ground work, as they connect local changemakers, stakeholders, advocates, students and educators to our resources and enhance the work they do in their communities to drive positive social change.

 

Learn more about becoming a partner.

OUR REACH

Our productions and co-productions have reached people across the nation, catalyzing engagements and creating connections needed to drive change. Our films are seen at hundreds of local community institutions nationally; broadcast on STARZ, HBO, PBS and OWN, and seen on global online platforms like Netflix.

 

Interested in building connections in your community? Connect with us.

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