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By all accounts, Justin Brandon, Brian McElroy and Daniel Schnorr already had achieved success with their collaborative project, “The Road to Fondwa.”
In 2008, after much work, the three University of Notre Dame alumni completed this inspiring documentary about a rural Haitian community’s efforts to establish the University of Fondwa, Haiti’s first rural university. It wasn’t long before the 37-minute film received significant acclaim, with screenings at film festivals around the United States, including the Boston International Film Festival.
But the stakes changed when a devastating seven-point earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, affecting 3 million – roughly a third of the country’s population.
The trio from Notre Dame decided to use their film to help raise awareness – and much-needed funds – to help the quake survivors.
They established “The Road to Fondwa LLC,” which became one of the first client companies to set up shop at Innovation Park in February 2010.
Of the three, Brandon was the one who handled the LLC’s operations at Innovation Park.
“We had the vision and had begun the work toward our new initiative, but we didn’t know exactly what to do every step of the way,” says Brandon. “The great staff at Innovation Park helped us move forward with our vision, provided great counsel and connected us to a whole network of people to help us succeed.”
Innovation Park staff provided mentoring and guidance in expanding the film’s reach to larger prospective audiences. And, through collaborative discussions and brainstorming with peers from Innovation Park’s other client companies, Brandon was able to solve problems and develop new strategies to get the word out about “Fondwa.”
Clearly, the numbers paint a vivid picture of success.
To date, there have been more than 20,000 viewings of the film, and more than 100,000 YouTube views. And to top that, The Road to Fondwa LLC raised more than $20,000 in direct contributions to help the people of Haiti.
Having achieved these accomplishments, The Road to Fondwa LLC will now “graduate” from Innovation Park.
“The Road to Fondwa is a terrific example of how innovation at home can make a tremendous impact abroad,” said David Brenner, president and CEO of Innovation Park. “In this instance, Brandon and his colleagues set out to make a difference using their talents to create awareness and raise a powerful call to action. Mission accomplished.”
Brandon notes that Innovation Park was a game-changer for him and his colleagues.
“From having a dynamic place to work to the high-speed fiber optic network, to the mentorship and support from the staff, we have been very happy with our relationship with Innovation Park,” he says.
As a native of South Bend, Brandon appreciates the great changes taking shape there.
“I’m really optimistic about South Bend’s opportunities for growth,” he says, reflecting on the City’s $50 million commitment to commercialize technologies emanating from Notre Dame research, along with other initiatives like the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery, Ignition Park and Eddy Street Commons.
While Brandon, McElroy and Schnorr will pursue other projects and career directions, The Road to Fondwa LLC will continue to generate awareness about, and funds for, the people of Haiti.
For more information, visit The Road to Fondwa online.