Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, BACKPACK FULL OF CASH exposes the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education — starved of resources — hangs in the balance. This film makes the case for public education as a basic civil right.

Director: Sarah Mondale
Producers: Vera Aronow, Sarah B. Patton, Sarah Mondale
A Co-Production with Turnstone Productions
Editors: Marian Hunter and Vera Aronow

Praise for Backpack Full of Cash

  • The cautionary tale is real, it’s present, and the threat is closer than anyone realizes. People who see BACKPACK know that more people MUST see it.

    - Barbara Silva - Public Education Advocate, Support Our Schools Alberta

  • If you’re still ​Waiting for ​Superman, stop. ​Go watch Backpack full of Cash!

    - Tim Skelar, Education Professor and host of “Busted Pencils” radio

  • A heartbreaking account…Powerful images of affected students, teachers and parents. A must see for every community.

    - George Abbott White, Massachusetts public school teacher, 42 years

  • Terrific! An amazing accomplishment, full of meaning and emotion.

    - Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Author of Taking Back Childhood

  • Riveting! The film debunks the notion that so-called “market-based” reforms will improve public education and that resources don’t matter in high poverty schools.

    - David Sciarra, Executive Director, Education Law Center (Newark, NJ)

  • The screening was a fantastic experience…The documentary is a strong tool to educate the public.

    - Nadine Levyfield, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

  • The screening spurred excellent discussion on pending legislation. A passionate issue awareness night!!

    - Christine Greig, Michigan State Representative

  • The big message I came away with was that we need to look to the future with optimism. At some point, the American people will say we’ve had enough drama. At that point we can move forward.

    - James Harvey, Executive Director, National Superintendents Roundtable

  • Eye-opening…Straightforward and without any frills, “Backpack” is a call to action for any mother, father and student.

    - Escape Into Film – Seattle International Film Festival Capsule Movie Review

  • - Vicki Cobb, The Huffington Post


BACKPACK FULL OF CASH has screened hundreds of times at schools, churches, movie theaters, colleges, and other venues across the U.S. and the globe, sparking lively discussions with local stakeholders. Viewers are coming away armed with new information and ideas to help them grapple with the challenges posed by school privatization.

A new version of the film with Spanish subtitles is available along with Community Resources and a Discussion Guide in Spanish. As the audience for BACKPACK continues to grow, we make it easy for grassroots groups like yours to organize an event, providing everything you need to host a BACKPACK screening and start a discussion in your community.

On The Set of "Backpack Full of Cash"

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