Interview with Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza – Director of KNOW HOW Premiering 5/27

Most importantly for me was having the opportunity to work with the youth to tell their true stories for the (TV) screen and empower them to create change in their own lives.”

Longtime MYD member, Juan Carlos, easily embodies everything our organization stands for. From engagement to true activism, Juan Carlos has dedicated his time to fighting for causes that truly speak to him. From founding the White Roof Project through MYD in 2010 to creating socially conscious films that get straight to the heart of the issue, he’s become a tremendous role model for how young people can make a difference. 

Check out the below to learn more about Juan Carlos and his latest film, KNOW HOW.

What got you started making cause driven films? 

I started a documentary production company back in 2005 that was driven by a mission to create socially conscious films. For the most part we worked with small non-profits to create short form content about their projects and people. That led to making my first feature documentary which dove into the topic of virtual worlds, chronicling the folks who have one foot planted here while the other is firmly in that other space. I’m not sure I can claim that was truly cause-driven filmmaking.

How did you get started with KNOW HOW, your latest film?

At that time my life was out of balance, and an experience mentoring young adults to better prepare them for successful careers had helped shed a completely different light on how to be happy. It led me to rethink my motivations and I started looking at the potential to do good and be good while letting everything else follow. So, in June 2010 we sat down to discuss what a movie written and starring foster care youth might look like.

The project had the potential to be uniquely powerful in that if we were successful, it could give foster care youth themselves a platform to speak their truth and with that, affect change in the system nationally. Most importantly for me at the time, though, was having the opportunity to work with the youth to tell their true stories for the screen and empower them to create change in their own lives.

Where did you find the story and script for this film? 

Each year a group of foster care youth discover a non-profit called the Possibility Project. These teenagers are chosen to participate in the program based on their desire to create a better world. They come together for one year to create change for themselves and their communities, and in the process, create an original musical from the stories of their lives.

I actually went to one of their first shows when I was in high school, and after college volunteered to shoot some of their productions in NYC. Years later, having recently finished my first feature film, I received a call from the founder, Paul Griffin — they wanted to make a movie. 

When the foster care youth enter the program, each immediately has a platform to tell their stories — their successes, failures, hardships, triumphs. After breaking into teams, they bring to life a scene from each of their lives. However, they do not perform as themselves in these re-enactments, but instead have others inhabit the role. These scenes provide a framework for what eventually becomes the storylines, and often two or three youth’s scenes become one longer story arc. 

When I first sat down with them at a roundtable, I listened, I asked questions and more questions, and I listened again. It was immersive storytelling to help transpose and transform their world into a film. We rehearsed as we re-imagined the script, with the whole process being uniquely collaborative. The film took shape through their stories, and scenes were ripped directly from their memories. A multi-protagonist plot line formed that weaved in and out of each other’s lives. Sometimes they were deeply involved in one another’s world, and sometimes they just glanced off for a moment. Somehow we ended up with a 124-page foster care epic. 

Want to learn more? Join me in tuning into Pivot TV tonight (May 27th) at 11p EST to support our friend, Juan Carlos, and spread the word on how we can help our often forgotten youth in the foster care system. Can’t tune in? KNOW HOW will be coming to DVD/iTunes on June 3rd. Check out the link to the iTunes store here -

Watch the trailer >>

Learn More and Get Involved:



Twitter: @knowhowmovie

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“Know How” – A Film About the Foster Care System

According to a 2010 study conducted by Chapin Hall at The University of Chicago, a few years after aging out of foster care, only 50% of young people will complete high school or a GED, 60% will be convicted of a crime, 75% will receive public assistance, and only 6% will have completed a degree program. 

KNOW HOW, an award-winning docu-drama directed by former MYD member Juan Carlos, chronicles the reality of life in foster care through the eyes of five young people living in the New York City system. Their true stories are captured in this unique, eye-opening film exploring tales of abuse, homelessness and perseverance. In commemoration of National Foster Care Month, this film is accompanied by a social action campaign spearheaded by Participant Media and the California Youth Connection to raise awareness for state-level legislation aiming to provide better outcomes for foster care youth. 

The film premiered May 15th in select theaters across New York and Los Angeles and premieres nationally on Pivot TV May 27th at 11pm EST.

Watch the trailer >>

Learn More and Get Involved:



Twitter: @knowhowmovie


2014, 106 mins, English, Digital
Directed by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza 
Screenplay by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza 
Executive Producer Paul G. Griffin 
Produced by Paul G. Griffin and Marcus Clarke

Written by & Starring
Deshawn Brown
Niquana Clark
Michael Kareem Dew
Gabrielle Garcia
Gilbert Howard
Claribelle Pagan
Ebonee Simpson

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Engendering Progress 2015 Tickets

Thursday, June 4th
7:00PM – 10:00PM
@ Goldbar, 389 Broome

$20 for Members – $30 for Non-members – $40 for Combined Membership & Event

Our 2015 Honorees: 

•Alana Fickes – Cinematographer, The Empowerment Project
•Sonia Ossorio – President, NOW-NYC
•Cynthia Salim – Founder & CEO, Citizen’s Mark
•Zephyr Teachout – Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University

To become a member of the Host Committee, or for any other questions, please contact MYD Events Director Katie Petersen:

All Host Committee Members will be listed on event material and will receive special recognition throughout the event. 

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Petitioning 101 Training

What: Petitioning 101 Training, hosted by MYD & the NYCDC
When: Sunday, May 17, 2015 1pm to 3pm
Where: School of the Visual Arts, 133 W. 21st Street, Room 101C, New York, NY 10011
Trainers: County Law Chair, Jeanine R. Johnson, NYS Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Douglas Kellner, & NYC Board of Elections General Counsel Steven Richmond

Please RSVP to Asya at


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Join Us to Support Safe Storage!

This Tuesday City Council Member Jumaane Williams will be introducing a resolution in support of Nicholas’s Law, a bill that would require safe storage of firearms in homes.  The bill is currently being considered by the New York State legislature, but is facing staunch opposition by the powerful gun lobby.

New York City already has its own safe storage ordinance, as do several other cities, including Buffalo, Rochester, and Westchester County.

Please join CM Williams, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and other gun safety advocates at noon on Tuesday, April 28th on the steps of City Hall to show your support for this important legislation.

For more information, email Kim Moscaritolo:

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Guest Post: How All New Yorkers Can Enjoy Retirement Security

This is a guest post from Morgan Pehme (@morganpehme), Executive Director of EffectiveNY.

If you’re not already worried about how you are going to be able to afford retirement, you will be soon enough. According to a national survey, 75% of American workers are concerned about being able to pay for retirement, and with fewer businesses offering pensions or 401(k) programs to their employees, that already deeply concerning statistic is more than likely only going to get worse.

Just in the New York City metropolitan area, 59% of workers have no retirement plan whatsoever. Demographically, these affected individuals are disproportionately young people, freelancers, employees of small companies, African Americans and Latinos.

With millions of middle-class and low-wage workers just within the five boroughs struggling to cope with this vital concern there is no question that this is a key income inequality issue for the city, state and nation to address. Yet currently there is no plan to strengthen the social safety net on the federal level, and many younger New Yorkers believe that even if Social Security were enough money to live on in the city—which it currently is not—that there is a decent probability that its life-saving benefits may not necessarily be around for them to receive by the time they are of retirement age.

               So what can be done to tackle this crisis—if anything?

               EffectiveNY has a solution: Retirement Security for All.

The brainchild of EffectiveNY’s founder, Bill Samuels, Retirement Security for All would create a pooled savings trust open to all of New York’s private workers who do not currently have a retirement plan through their employer. This public option for retirement savings would enable these workers to contribute a percentage of their income to a fund that would be managed by the city, much like public sectors workers do with their pensions. As this fund would easily exceed $1 billion, its immense size would be leveraged to achieve a comparably high rate of return to that of New York City’s pension funds, while keeping fees far lower than those changed with 401(k)s.

Best of all, the cost to the government would be minimal, as there is already an existing infrastructure in place to administer such a fund and its operating costs would be covered by the workers’ contributions.

This innovative solution is not an ivory tower impossibility. Public Advocate Letitia James has stepped up as its champion and recently introduced a bill in the New York City Council (Int. 692) to create a blue-ribbon commission to study how best to implement this initiative. A number of City Council members have already signed on to this legislation and it is EffectiveNY’s aim to get many other members on board to support it over the coming months as it works its way to the floor for a vote.

That’s where you come in. We need every New Yorker to spread the word about this critical initiative and to encourage their elected officials to join this fight for our future. Right now, the Public Advocate’s bill would just affect New York City, but it is our aim to expand this momentous income inequality campaign statewide, as occurred with the successful push for universal pre-K. Illinois, California, and Massachusetts have already passed similar legislation and with New York charging into the mix, our hope is to build the momentum for this effort to become the model for a nationwide program.

To get involved in EffectiveNY’s fight to create Retirement Secruity for All, email me at or call 646-706-7247. And for more information about this initiative, visit

EffectiveNY is a nonprofit watchdog group and public policy think tank dedicated to discovering and implementing innovative solutions to New York’s greatest challenges. Follow us on Twitter @effectiveny.

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