Film Chronicling Poverty and Efforts to Provide Credit to America’s Unbanked Opens Today
RESULTS Groups in 35 Communities Part of National Campaign to Leverage To Catch a Dollar to Address Poverty in the United States
Washington, D.C. — RESULTS groups in 35 cities and towns across the United States are hosting events for the release of Gayle Ferraro’s historic documentary To Catch A Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America. The film, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the inspiring, logic-defying, yet true story of RESULTS Board Member Muhammad Yunus’ idea to bring his model of microlending to the United States and depicts the millions of lives it has changed in the process.
RESULTS is a proud partner in nationwide release of To Catch A Dollar, the cornerstone of a national campaign to address poverty in the United States. RESULTS is a U.S. advocacy group that harnesses the voices of individuals across the United States who speak up in solidarity with all people who need basic health care, education, and the means to rise out of poverty. Along with partners like Operation Hope and Dress for Success, and more traditional microcredit networks like the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and Grameen America, RESULTS is bringing attention to the struggles of those living in poverty in America and highlight innovative asset-building policies that can break the cycle of poverty.
“Having successfully highlighted the power of microfinance to help lift the world’s poorest people out of poverty, RESULTS is in a prime position to spread the word about the importance of credit and building assets for low-income people in America — and the power of advocacy to bring that vision to scale,” said Meredith Dodson, RESULTS’ director of domestic campaigns. RESULTS activists at the To Catch a Dollar events shared about RESULTS longstanding support of policies that create economic opportunity and innovative new initiatives to help low-income Americans build savings through the Saver’s Bonus. The Saver’s Bonus would let low-income workers put all or part of their tax refund (typically from the Earned Income Tax Credit) into a savings product, which would then be matched by the government up to $500 per year.
“Current U.S. policy allocates billions of dollars each year to asset building through things like the mortgage interest and property tax deductions, but only 3 percent of the benefits go to the bottom 60 percent of households,” said Dodson. “Compare that to the top 1 percent, who receive 45 percent of the benefits. The Saver’s Bonus is a simple, common sense option that gives low-income Americans the opportunity, convenience, and incentive to begin saving. What’s so exciting is how much of a “game-changer” saving can be — low-income families that save money are more likely to have children who escape poverty. Specifically, 71 percent of children born to high-saving, low-income parents move up from the bottom income quartile over a generation. The success of Grameen America in New York City chronicled in To Catch A Dollar and other programs that help low-income Americans build savings shows us how we can break the cycle of poverty for millions of Americans.”
Muhammad Yunus is the Nobel Peace Prize-winning father of microfinance. He founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh on the radical notion that if you loan poor women money within the context of peer support, not only will they repay, but they will sustain the bank and elevate their communities in the process. Since Dr. Yunus started Grameen Bank in Bangladesh 40 years ago, there have been 8 million borrowers and 99 percent are women. He then began to extend and grow the model outside of Asia, Africa, other areas of the developing world, with a focus on women as they are the most in need of addition of access to resources. With millions of microloans to rural entrepreneurs in developing countries, Grameen audaciously imported its methods to the bastion of first-world capitalism: the U.S.A, beginning in Queens, New York.
Gayle Ferraro followed Yunus so she could tell the story of what happened. To Catch a Dollar tells the stories of a baker looking to grow her business and a hairdresser who wants to open a salon. Both were unbanked and, prior to having access to microfinance, only had access to predatory lending with extremely high interest rates. With an intimate camera capturing both buoyant and despairing moments, To Catch a Dollar chronicles the evolution of the first tiny new microlending branch and the impact it has on both these loan recipients and supporters.
When the film premiered at Sundance last year, people came up to Ferraro and Yunus asking about how to make it bigger. Working with U.S.-based group Cause and Affect and Grameen America, they decided to use the film as an opportunity to build awareness around poverty in America, microfinance, and its enormous potential to help lift Americans out of poverty, just as it has lifted millions around the world out of poverty.
Screenvision, the leading innovator in cinema advertising, and event-based theatrical distribution company Area 23a, worked to release a simulcast of the film and a recent panel discussion on the movie that was held in New York in theaters across the country on Thursday, March 31. RESULTS and other To Catch a Dollar partners will be using the film’s premier to launch a campaign to raise awareness of poverty in the U.S. and innovative solutions to reduce it. Each week in April will focus on a specific topic around domestic poverty and asset-building strategies. Topics include women in the U.S., the “unbanked” in America, financial literacy in the U.S., and policy solutions. Each week there will be events to help bring attention to these topics, including several hosted by RESULTS during the policy week of April 25.
For more information, please contact Meredith Dodson, RESULTS Director of Domestic (U.S. Poverty) Campaigns, cell: (202) 263-9108.