In America, a kid drops out of high school every 9 seconds. Imagine if they didn’t.
This is the compelling question behind award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio's newest project TEN9EIGHT, a thought provoking film which tells the inspirational stories of several inner city teens (of differing race, religion, and ethnicity) from Harlem to Compton and all points in between, as they compete in an annual business plan competition.
Meet the Kids
Nominated as one of 5 finalists for the VH1 Do-Something Awards, the film was called “the most inspirational and heartwarming film you will ever see” by Tom Friedman (Sunday New York Times).
The film includes students such as:
Rodney Walker, age 19, Founder of Forever Life Music and Video Productions: Rodney was put into the foster care system at the age of 5 and ended up homeless on the streets of Chicago. Almost becoming a statistic like many of his brothers, Rodney was able to chart a new future – and is now studying business as a freshman at Morehouse College.
Amanda Loyola, age 16, Founder of Eco-Dog Biscuits: Amanda’s father escaped from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, finding a job at Burger King in Brooklyn, New York. He inspired his daughter, Amanda, to think that anything might be possible in America. Amanda started her business, a vegetarian dog treat company, after her dog, Princess, died from cancer.
Rodney and Amanda are but two of several remarkably resilient kids featured in this film, all of whom are facing the most challenging of circumstances in the inner city – making their achievements all the more remarkable.
The finals of this competition convenes 35 young entrepreneurs in New York City, chosen from over 24,000 students from across the country, winnowed down through a series of city and statewide business plan competitions held throughout the year. The winner receives $10,000 to launch his or her business – but more importantly, these finalists have the opportunity to interact with high profile entrepreneurs, including the likes of Arthur Blank (founder, Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons); Tom Scott (co- founder, Nantucket Nectars); Ralph Schlosstein (co-founder, BlackRock); Wyc Grousbeck (owner of the Celtics); and Kay Koplovitz (founder of USA Network). Although there can be only one winner, each student is empowered with the promise of a future they never thought possible.
ABOUT 50 EGGS FILMS. Mary Mazzio, an award-winning director, Olympian, and former law firm partner, is Founder and CEO of 50 Eggs, LLC, an independent film production company. Mary wrote, directed and produced the highly acclaimed award-winning films, Lemonade Stories, Apple Pie, A Hero for Daisy, We Are BlackRock, and most recently The Apple Pushers. A Hero for Daisy was hailed by The New York Times as a “landmark film” and “fantastic” by Sports Illustrated; “remarkable” by NPR; aired nationwide on ESPN, Oxygen, WGBH, and WTSN-Canada; was invited to screen at the Smithsonian, and is in thousands of classrooms across the country. Apple Pie aired nationwide on ESPN to critical acclaim, and was called “illuminating – told with deftness and emotion… priceless” by The New York Times; “heartwarming” by Los Angeles Times; “fantastic”- NPR, and “excellent: – CNN. Lemonade Stories, which aired nationwide on CNNfn (and which aired nationwide in Latin America, the UK, Israel, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Hong Kong in 2008), was the subject of cover stories by USA Today (complete with a trailer and photos on USA Today’s splash page), Forbes.com, The Christian Science Monitor, ABC News.com, as well as featured on NPR, Bloomberg Radio, and in Fast Company.
Mazzio, an Olympic athlete (1992-Rowing), is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Georgetown Law School. A recipient of several awards including the Women’s Sports Foundation Journalism Award, a Gracie Award, a Myra Sadker Gender Equity Curriculum Award, a Henry Luce Foundation Fellowship (to Korea); the Mary Lyon Award (from Mount Holyoke College); and a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellowship (to France), Mary, formerly a partner with the law firm of Brown Rudnick in Boston, MA, has served on a number of Boards of Directors including Shackleton Schools (which serve high school students in danger of failing in traditional high schools); Sojourner House (a homeless shelter); The Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, The Head of the Charles Regatta, The National Rowing Foundation, and World T.E.A.M Sports (supporting disabled athletes). She has served on the Advisory Board for The Rhode Island International Film Festival as well as serving as a judge for the Sports Emmys. The Schlesinger Library at Harvard University has requested all of Mazzio’s papers for its collection.
Mary is willing to disclose her height and true hair color – but refuses to disclose her golf handicap, particularly after her performance at the Drew Bledsoe Celebrity Golf Tournament where she participated as a celebrity (who nobody knew). She was, however, heckled by real celebrities – NFL great Lynn Swann and producer Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary) for having brand new golf shoes. She heckled back. She resides in Massachusetts with her husband, Jay Manson, and two children.
The project itself was funded by the John Templeton Foundation with additional support from the Kauffman Foundation. Many thanks also to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) who allowed us to film their students. NFTE was founded in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, a former New York City public school teacher, originally as a dropout prevention and academic performance improvement program for students who were at risk of failing or quitting school. NFTE has grown into a comprehensive business education program in 27 states and 13 countries with more than 230,000 graduates.