In an unprecedented theatrical event, audiences in U.S. theaters watched “To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America” Thursday, learning the story of the Nobel Laureate’s unique and successful model of microfinance and how it is changing lives in the United States through the nonprofit organization, Grameen America.
In addition to the film, moviegoers saw a panel discussion taped in front of a live studio audience in New York on March 9 featuring Professor Yunus, with special guests financial powerhouse Suze Orman, Kiva President Premal Shah and Grameen America President Vidar Jorgensen.
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The event was introduced by actor Robert De Niro and moderated by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. The event played in front of sold-out theaters in several cities, including Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Seattle, Austin and San Francisco.
“Tonight was a first for independent films like To Catch a Dollar,” said Gayle Ferraro, the documentary’s director and producer. “The entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way – the women empowered by the Grameen model, both here and in 65 countries around the world are an absolute inspiration, and it’s been an honor to be able to share their stories with the public in such a unique way.”
As the program ended Matt Damon reached out to audience members inviting them to find out how they can help at www.tocatchadollar.com, and Hugh Jackman encouraged audiences to take immediate action by supporting the first publicly funded Grameen America branch through a text 2 give campaign.
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By texting ‘AMERICA’ to 85944, the public will give a $10 donation to Grameen America (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization). Funds raised will go to a future Grameen America branch, a branch selected by the public through an online campaign.
Public will choose from four candidate cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. – and all funds will be earmarked for the launch of a branch in the city selected.
Using their Facebook accounts, voters will be able to vote once per week for the life of the contest.
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The film’s producers intend to use the event to launch a broader campaign designed to educate, assist and activate a growing community supporting microfinance services in the United States.
Throughout the month of April, in partnership with leading activist and advocacy organizations, the To Catch a Dollar community will explore issues related to the film and relevant for America today: women in poverty, the plight of the “unbanked” in America, savings and financial literacy, and policy solutions.
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In partnership with Dress for Success and generous support from the Allstate Foundation, the producers will also use April to launch the My Dollar, My Life campaign, an effort to encourage Americans to take steps to improve their own financial stability while helping to raise funds for Grameen America.
“Never before has such a spotlight been shown on microfinance here in the United States,” said Vidar Jorgensen, president of Grameen America. “This film is the culmination of years of hard work, but there’s more work to be done. Professor Yunus has taught us that there are solutions to poverty, and it’s up to us to make those dreams realities. Together, we’ll do just that.”
For more information on the film and its public engagement campaign, visit www.tocatchadollar.com