American Promise begins in 1999 and follows two African-American boys through their 12 year journey at one of Manhattan’s most prestious prep schools.
Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson launched the American Promise project when they enrolled their own son, Idris, at the Dalton School—one of Manhattan’s most sought-after private prep schools—in 1999. As Dalton sought to cultivate a more diverse student body, they saw a special opportunity to document their own lives and experiences as a reflection on broader societal issues. The film offers an intimate into middle-class African-American families against the backdrop of a persistent educational achievement gap that acutely affects African-American boys from across the country and socioeconomic spectrum. American Promise follows Idris and Seun all the way from kindergarten in 1999 through their graduation with the class of 2012.