“The Help” and HKS students provide boost for Mississippi town

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This year’s Academy Award for Best Picture may have gone to “The Artist,” but another Oscar-nominated film was a winner on a different level for a group of Harvard Kennedy School students.

In 2010, Greenwood, Miss., hosted the vast majority of the shooting for ”The Help,” a story of racial segregation and domestic workers in the South during the 1960s. While the filming of the movie brought attention to the area’s past and present, it also laid the foundation for the community to improve its future, particularly in the impoverished neighborhood known as Baptist Town.

Not only did the filming boost the local economy, but a premiere attended by the film’s stars and producers in Madison, Miss., raised about $150,000, all of which was designated to improve the Baptist Town community.

The HKS Community Development Project (CDP) – a student group whose mission is to empower Baptist Town residents to build locally-driven solutions to neighborhood challenges– teamed up with local residents and The Fuller Center for Housing of Greenwood/Leflore to help put that money and other resources to good use in Baptist Town.