The Sundance Institute has announced the first five grant recipients for its Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary program.

Established by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Skoll Foundation, the $3 million program’s objective is to explore how feature-length documentary films can advance knowledge about social entrepreneurship. The three-year initiative promotes the collaborative efforts of outstanding moviemakers and leading social entrepreneurs to create new projects about the innovative approaches found in both fields.

“Social entrepreneurs are working on some of the biggest challenges the planet faces, from climate change to water scarcity to conflict. They have created workable solutions to tough problems, and it’s important to tell their stories both to inform and inspire people,” says Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “We’re extremely pleased with the caliber of submissions to the Stories of Change initiative and look forward to seeing the outcome of these collaborations between filmmakers and social entrepreneurs.”

Grants of up to $150,000 per film were awarded to moviemakers based on their organization and focus on the issues in which the entrepreneurs are seeking a systemic and positive change, directorial vision, and the potential for the film’s theatrical release. Representatives from the five funded teams were in Park City during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

The recipients:
Back to School – Development
Producer: Julia Parker Benello
Social Entrepreneur: Sakena Yacoobi
Sakena Yacoobi’s Afghan Institute for Learning, a grassroots organization she founded 12 years ago, brings education to women in Afghanistan.

Green Shall Overcome – Development
Director: Tracy Heather Strain/Co-Director: Megan Gelstein
Social Entrepreneur: Van Jones
Van Jones, an African American civil rights lawyer, envisions a pathway out of poverty for low income Americans while simultaneously addressing the challenges of environmental destruction. Can he bring about a revolution of black and green?

Poor Consuelo Conquers the World – Development
Director: Peter Friedman
Producer: Paul Miller
Social Entrepreneur: PCI-Media Impact
Poor Consuelo Conquers the World tells the story of popular soap operas and telenovelas, now being used to combat the effects of poverty around the world.

The Team – Production
Director: Patrick Reed
Producer: Peter Raymont
Social Entrepreneurs: John Marks and Susan Collin Marks
Kenyans scramble to produce a dramatic TV soap opera series, hoping taboo storylines can bridge deep ethnic divisions, as their country teeters on the brink.

YouthBuild Documentary – Production
Director: Annie Sundberg
Social Entrepreneur: Dorothy Stoneman
This feature length documentary will follow a year in the lives of out-of school young people selected for a high stakes community re-build project in North Philadelphia.