When Superintendent Marcus Newsome decided to leave one of the highest-performing districts in the state of Virginia and then work in the poorest and lowest-performing district in the state, his long-time friend and colleague, Alan Blankstein asked: “How can I help?” Dr. Newsome replied: ‘You can tell the positive story about us and our children. They’ve only heard about failure for decades in this community, and they no longer believe they can succeed. Yet they are no different than children all over the world, and success is within their reach.”

Thus began a long journey, beginning with a chance encounter with Sam Pollard and Alice Elliot, Emmy Award and Oscar Nominees, whose documentaries have marked the American Landscape. The outcome,   Petersburg Rising, produced and co-directed by Blankstein, ultimately won awards in 8 international film festivals, including “Best Documentary” in the Culver City Film Festival and the “Founders Award” and “Most Popular” film at the Richmond International Film Festival. After airing on PBS/VPM, it has become viewable to schools, and government agencies via The Video Project (LINK Here) and individuals world-wide via Kanopy.