Everyday Heroes

Youth, race and national service: AmeriCorps behind-the-headlines
Abby Ginzberg
Year Released
Film Length(s)
59 mins
Remote video URL


Everyday Heroes takes a behind-the-headlines look at a diverse group of young adults who give a year of their lives through a San Francisco area AmeriCorps program to tutor and mentor needy kids. Despite their good intentions, they are confronted by a host of obstacles, including a racial divide that threatens to thwart their efforts. While documenting a year both turbulent and exhilarating, the film reveals the hopes and dreams, successes and setbacks of a group of individuals--potentially tomorrow's leaders-- searching for their place in the world and trying, against odds, to make a difference.

Featured review

Anyone who thinks America's youth is in bad shape should see this film; it will give them faith for the future of this nation. This wonderful film should find a home in all libraries and may help encourage viewers to consider volunteering to help America's children succeed.
Danna Bell-Russel
Library of Congress, Library Journal


Everyday Heroes explores the rewards and the potential difficulties, on both a personal and program level, of national and community service and of service-learning. It provides a stimulating launching-point for discussion about civic engagement and youth leadership development. Issues of race and diversity permeate every scene, with the impassioned voices of the service providers "talking across differences."

Everyday Heroes is an excellent resource for use in the areas of service-learning, civic engagement, race and diversity, communicating common ground, student affairs and youth development, among others. For program directors in the service community or anyone engaged in youth leadership and development, Everyday Heroes is an invaluable tool that can be used for staff, board and member orientation and training, community outreach and organizing, member recruitment, fund-raising, and race and diversity training.

Everyday Heroes is available in both the 109-minute original version, and a new 59-minute version, edited specifically for broadcast on public television. This new version retains the story line, crises, themes, exhilaration and turmoil of the original. Everyday Heroes has a soundtrack that includes music by Tupac Shakur, Ben Harper, Moby, Beth Orton, Ani DiFranco, John Coltrane, Christian McBride, The Braids, Thelonius Monk, Public Enemy, Lemon 'N' Ice and others.

"Anyone who thinks America's youth is in bad shape should see this film; it will give them faith for the future of this nation. This wonderful film should find a home in all libraries and may help encourage viewers to consider volunteering to help America's children succeed." - Danna Bell-Russell, Library of Congress


What about [the young] people from all different backgrounds [who are] busting their butts, doing some pretty meaningful things?" This is the question Rick Goldsmith, Bay Area filmmaker, asked when he set out to make his latest documentary. What he discovered -- that these youth are getting little if any coverage in the media -- led him to follow a team of youth working for the AmeriCorps program for an entire year as tutors, mentors, and educators in some of the Bay Area's most underserved neighborhoods.. Everyday Heroes is more than an attempt to counteract inaccurate media portrayals. By offering its audience an experience similar to "reality-based TV,"(The group is made up of 21 young people from different class and cultural backgrounds and is a more diverse group than on most episodes of the Real World) the film raises key questions about class, race and the complexities of social service in our society. Everyday Heroes focuses in on a cross-section of the team, but paints a realistic picture of how different people work together to try to meet the particular needs of an underserved community -- the ultimate goal of the AmeriCorps experience...The film portrays the difficult process of working as a team and shows us a collection of episodes where members take the time to pay attention to and meet the educational needs of the youth in schools and after-school programs...Team member Travis Smith believes that society has institutionalized a lot of racism. "So if we don't talk about the way people of color are treated and the certain privileges that white America has, whether or not [white people] feel individually like they are racists, then that system is going to be perpetuated. So we need to look at it, talk about it, and not be afraid of it." Another team member, Ivan Alomar said, "I'm one of those crazy people who still believes that change can happen." AmeriCorps can certainly open peoples eyes to the idea that social change is possible, but until there are many more "crazy" people like Alomar -- who understand that it is their responsibility as citizens of this nation to create change, and are willing to work for change -- we have quite a ways to go. Everyday Heroes is testimony to this fact.
Katherine Sear

Awards and Screenings

Official selection, Mill Valley Film Festival
Official selection, Rhode Island International Film Festival
Official selection, Denver International Film Festival

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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