Inspire Media’s “Making Media Matter” Spring Symposium highlights The Homestretch

On May 17, Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare spoke at Northwestern University for Inspire Media's Spring Symposium.  With the Symposium topic, “Making Media Matter” Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare talked about the process of creating The Homestretch and planning their outreach and impact strategy.

Inspire Media is a student group that believes in media as a catalyst for social change. Kelly and de Mare shared the trailer and clips from The Homestretch to illustrate the complexity of youth homelessness. 

Kirsten posed the question “What happens next - on the ground – after you’ve gained a large body of knowledge on an issue no one is talking about?” It is crucial to have a way to share what you learned and shed light on your discoveries.

Through the four years of production the filmmakers discovered that services for homeless youth are disjointed, and that school is often the only consistent place for students to receive support. “Support comes in many forms,” said Anne. “Peers offer social support, teachers and admin can be role models and homeless liaisons can offer CTA cards and school supplies.”

Two goals of the film’s outreach strategy are to 1) raise public awareness around the issue of youth homelessness and combat the negative stereotypes that often follow homeless youth, and 2) to empower stakeholders and service providers to explore common agendas and encourage greater collaboration with school districts who are often on the front lines of this crisis.

Sarah Oberholtzer, Inspire Media’s Co-President followed up to share the student feedback of the Symposium. “[Anne and Kirsten] tackle the issue so beautifully. The universality of the film makes it so much more possible to engage and connect with the causes of youth homelessness.”

Inspire Media's Treasurer, Emerson Rubio said, "It raised my interest in what they researched." He felt the symposium introduced new ideas and that talking to the directors made the messages in the films more personal. 

"We talked beyond the things happening in the frame, and dug into the more subtle background elements that make the film what it is," said Jessica Smasal, student and former Co-President of Inspire Media. 

Sarah offered Inspire Media’s support in volunteering and helping us with our advocacy work in Chicago. We look forward to screening the full film and working with NU students in Fall 2014.

If you would like to bring The Homestretch to your school or university, please email