In January, Gen2Gen — a national campaign to mobilize 1 million people 50+ to help kids thrive — launched Movies & Mentors, a contest to crowdsource a list of the best intergenerational mentoring movies of all time and inspire people over 50 to mentor in real life.
The results are in! After thousands of people nominated and voted for their favorites, here are the 10 best Gen2Gen mentoring movies of all time.
- To Sir, With Love (1967)
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- The Karate Kid (1984)
- Stand and Deliver (1988)
- Good Will Hunting (1997)
- Remember the Titans (2000)
- Secondhand Lions (2003)
- Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
- Up (2009)
- War Room (2015)
“Thanks to all the people who helped select this list of wonderful movies,” said Eunice Lin Nichols, director of the Gen2Gen campaign and a vice president at Encore.org. “Each film conveys the power of mentoring to change lives across generations and includes themes that will provoke great conversations. I hope these films inspire viewers to become mentors in real life.”
Nichols added one concern. “As we reviewed hundreds of nominations, we found very few iconic mentoring movies with older female mentors and younger female mentees.” The final list, selected by public vote, includes only one movie (The War Room) with an older female mentor and one (Akeelah and the Bee) with a female mentee.
“We urge movie makers everywhere to make more films with female protagonists and mentors. It’s critical that females, young and old, see themselves represented on the big screen, reflecting a truth we know well — that girls need and deserve relatable role models, including older women who are investing their later years in younger generations.”
Contest voters had a lot to say about how mentoring movies affected their lives and their thinking about mentoring in real life. This quote from a woman named Nancy speaks volumes.
“Up came out right after I found out that I’d never be able to have children. It showed me that life goes on and can be full of wonderful, amazing things — and that you can mean something completely life-changing to the younger generation even if they are not biologically yours.”
People in nearly every state in the country have hosted 150 Movies & Mentors watch parties. These “parties with a purpose” bring people together to watch a great mentoring movie and talk about mentoring in real life.
“It’s a night I’ll never forget,” said one party-goer. “I particularly enjoyed our discussion and movie reflections on courage and the power of relationship building. It helped everyone to share and hear about the impact mentors have left in our hearts and minds.”
And, across the country, thousands of others were inspired to search for ways to become mentors in real life using our Opportunity Finder and with Gen2Gen partners, including MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Strive for College, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Because no contest is complete without prizes, two people won Gen2Gen raffles, collecting $500 each in movie tickets. One is a Big Sister in Cincinnati who will take a group of kids to the movies. The other winner is a retired middle school teacher in Canton, Georgia, who will take family, friends, and former students to the movies.
The crowdsourcing contest is over, but you can still:
- Host a Movies & Mentors watch party. Just pick a movie and sign up to get our handy guide.
- Become a mentor in real life. If you have a little time to give, there’s a young person out there who needs a champion. Search our Opportunity Finder to browse hundreds of volunteer opportunities at youth-serving nonprofits in your neighborhood.
Gen2Gen is powered by Encore.org, an innovation hub tapping the talent of people 50+ as a force for good.