Finding the Gold Within
Finding the Gold Within
Finding the Gold Within
Item#: FTG-793
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Running Time: 92 minutes
Grade 9 – Adult
A film by Karina Epperlein
With Special Features
Scene Selection • Closed Captioned


"Highly Recommended. Finding the Gold Within is an extraordinary film, worthy of the widest possible audience as our country continues to grapple with racial injustice, particularly the persistent stereotyping and criminalizing of young Black men. Director Karina Epperlein deftly crafts a searching portrait of each young man, with his victories, struggles and dreams."
–Educational Media Reviews Online

"Throughout, this moving and potent film provides insight into growing up as a young black man in the United States, told by voices that are honest, affecting, and inspiring. At once brutally honest ... and yet alive with hope, this film gives a voice to each young man’s struggles and triumphs and demonstrates how he finds the power to beat his own drum."
–School Library Journal

"Highly Recommended. A beautiful and moving documentary about young black males finding their 'gold wiithin'".
– Video Librarian

"With a lens that is both arrestingly artistic and at base sympathetic – this film is a portrait of young black males navigating through an unsympathetic world. It never succumbs to clichés that romanticize or dramatize, but provides a rare platform for the quiet voices of those in the experience."
Troy Duster, Emeritus Chancellor's Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley

"Extremely topical… at times inspiring and funny, at other times heartbreaking and disturbing, and always fascinating. The conversations with these young men feature some of the most frank discussions about what it means to be black in America that I have ever heard."
Pete Crooks, Diablo Magazine

"This is a must see for anyone currently working with young men of color. Not only does it show our young men how to find their power from within but it also shows them how to heal! We are taught how to inflict pain, we are taught how to absorb pain but we are never taught how to heal from the pain."
Jorge Melgoza, Vice Principal, Berkeley High School, CA

"Insightful and moving. Finally, a film that reveals the often difficult inner lives and striving of black male teenagers. In stark contrast to the stereotype, these young Black men find within themselves a sense of authentic self-worth and learn to avoid self-destructive behaviors."
Avon Kirkland, Producer/Director, Ralph Ellison: An American Journey (AMERICAN MASTERS), Simple Justice (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)

"Finding the Gold Within is an important film for anyone interested in how to engage any youth, but especially African American boys, in experiences that can transform their lives. The learning strategies used by Alchemy, Inc. are cutting-edge, as confirmed by the new science of learning, brain research, the importance of social emotional skills, and growth mindsets."
Sam Piha, MSW, Founder and Co-Director, Temescal Associates and the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) Project

"Finding the Gold Within maps out a hopeful path. In her beautiful film, Karina Epperlein shows adult men guiding young men, through love and stories, toward an expansive future of personal growth...."
– Michael A. Messner, Prof. of Sociology and Gender Studies, University of Southern California



World Premiere, Mill Valley Film Festival

Opening Night Screening, Black Male Summit, University of Akron, 2015

John Michaels Award, Big Muddy Film Festival



All prices include DVD and limited PPR

• K-12 Schools, Public Libraries & Community Groups: $89
• Colleges, Government, Business: $295
• Colleges, Government, Business (with DSL): $395

What is it like to grow up as a Black male in America today? Finding the Gold Within provides a rare, intimate look into the lives of six young Black men from Akron, Ohio, each of whom is determined to disprove society’s stereotypes and low expectations.

The film follows the six for 3 ½ years as they make the challenging transition from high school through their first years of college. Along the way, they are faced with a variety of unexpected difficulties, from personal and family problems to overt racism. Each draws strength from a groundbreaking mentoring program for adolescents, Alchemy, Inc., which has been their second “family” since sixth grade.

In the embracing circle of Alchemy they speak with disarming honesty about their inner lives, trials and triumphs. Alchemy and its leaders have worked in the Akron and Cleveland area since 2003 mentoring urban youth. This innovative program uses ancient stories and myths, drumming and journaling to help develop self-knowledge, confidence, discipline and a determination to succeed – enabling young people to become the heroes within their own stories.

In the film, we witness the struggles, composure and growth of the six young men. Each is on his own path, and each is tested. Can he break free of society’s stereotypes of African-American men? Can he find the gold within? Despite hardships and disadvantages, the willingness of the six protagonists to be fully awake, to create new cultural identities, individually and collectively, is both revealing and inspirational.

By letting these young men speak for themselves, Finding the Gold Within provides an insightful contribution to the national dialogue about race and racism.

ADVISORY FOR LANGUAGE: Expletives and racially sensitive terms.


For assisting in discussion about race, plus a more in depth look at the Alchemy mentoring process and the lives of several film participants.

Facing Racism – 23 Min - Excerpts featuring film protagonists candidly discussing the racism they encounter. A powerful discussion starter.

Mentoring Summer Camp – 16:58 - The cycle of mentoring continues at an outdoor Alchemy session with college youth and 6th graders. Young and old recount their own stories of falling from grace.

Father and Son – 5:17 - A moving, honest conversation about past estrangement and reconciliation as the good of the relationship emerges.

Shawntrail’s Story, part 1 – 15:17 - Shawntrail recounts the death of this father, gets academic help in a poignant tutoring session, seeks advice from Alchemy mentor Kwame Scruggs regarding his mother’s problems, while playing basketball anchors him.

Shawntrail’s Story, part 2 – 7:48 - Later, Shawntrail leaves college, joins the workforce, recounts the trauma of his trial, takes care of his little brother, reconciles with his mother, and reminisces with his high school coach.

Imani and Family – 7:00 - Imani with his father, mother, and extended family talks about the pressure of his grandfather’s and father’s legacies, about death and the end of a relationship, and shares his thank you letter to his parents.


Fly By Light An intimate exploration of young people seeking to overcome the violence in their lives and create a new path for their future by connecting to a world outside their neighborhoods.

The Black Fatherhood Project An honest exploration of fatherhood in Black America, putting history into perspective to ensure the power of a father’s love is not lost on America's Black children.