New York City African American business leaders, in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Google, Facebook, Infor and AT&T, have launched an initiative to offer free admission to the critically-acclaimed feature, “Hidden Figures,” for over 25,000 students in New York.
New York schools are the first to benefit from the project. Like the 2015 project to screen Oscar-winner “Selma” – which reached 300,000 students across the country – the expectation is that other cities will join this significant program as it rolls out in theaters nationwide this weekend.
In addition, the screening program will educate students about the many contributions made by African Americans to science, technology, engineering, and math, and inspire more students to enter those fields. Charles Phillips, Chairman and CEO of Infor, William M. Lewis, Jr. Co-Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard, and Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express, lead the group of African American business executives driving the opportunity (the full list of business leaders contributing to the initiative is below).
“On behalf of the African-American business community members involved today, I would like to thank the great organizations that have joined this effort,” said Ken Chenault. “‘Hidden Figures’ spotlights our unsung communities’ long lineage of shaping our nation. It serves as a wonderful opportunity to inspire the next generation to carry that torch forward.”
“I’m deeply moved that my work is being used to educate and inspire students in this way. Programs like this are vital to sharpening our collective memories and enlightening young people about their history and exciting them about their future,” said Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller nonfiction book ‘Hidden Figures,’ on which the film is based.
The New York Public School System has already signed up for 10,000 tickets. They have been joined by the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), Eagle Academy for Young Men, De La Salle Academy, Harlem School of the Arts, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, Harlem Children’s Zone, Harlem Village Academy and the East Harlem Tutorial Program. NY Public Library will assist with ticket distribution.
Dovetailing with this initiative, Google has announced that it will be inviting teenage girls and students to participate in a new online Made With Code project. Participants build an interactive graphic capturing the triumphant themes of the “Hidden Figures” movie. In partnership with AMC theatres and local school districts, Google will also be hosting coding workshops along with viewing parties of the movie, where students can watch and discuss the film, and learn introductory coding skills.
Dr. Linda Curtis-Bey, Executive Director of STEM, New York City Public Schools, said: “‘Hidden Figures’ provides an important platform from which teachers and students, especially girls, can engage in discussions about STEM, the role of women in the workplace and the contributions of African-Americans.”
In January 2015, New York City African American business leaders sponsored free tickets for schoolchildren to see the movie “Selma” – which retold Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The project eventually funded free screenings for more than 300,000 students across 28 cities. It resulted in expanded school curricula and special showings at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and other historically important venues.
New York City business leaders contributing to this year’s “Hidden Figures” initiative are:
Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown
Scott and Iva Mills
Gerald and Gwen Adolph
Steve and Beverly Mills
Bloomberg Diversity and Inclusion Team
Morgan Stanley African American Partners
Valentino D. Carlotti
Laurence Morse and Pamela McKoin
Tony Chase and Dina Alsowayel
Adebayo Ogunlesi and Dr. Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi
Ken and Kathryn Chenault
Clarence Otis and Jacqui Bradley
Dr. N. Anthony and Mrs. Robyn Coles
Deval and Diane Patrick
Edith Cooper and Robert Taylor
Luis R. Penalver and Elizabeth Davis
Frank Cooper and Nina Whittington-Cooper
Charles and Karen Phillips
Don and Saundra Cornwell
Jonelle Procope and Frederick O. Terrell
Ken and Andrea Frazier
Tamara Harris Robinson
Bruce Gordon and Tawana Tibbs
David and Tammye Jones
Jose Tavarez and Holly Phillips, MD.
Reggie Van Lee
Ted and Nina Wells
Bill Lewis and Carol Sutton Lewis
Greg and Michelle Weston
Edward and Carolyn Lewis
Anré and Paula Williams
Michael and Charise Littlejohn
Janice and Chris Williams
Tracy Maitland and Kimberly Hatchett
Deborah C. Wright
Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire