Sands is committed to helping end youth homelessness in the United States, through support for a number of organizations and initiatives that are addressing the issue. In our corporate headquarters of Las Vegas, more than 1,000 young people experience homelessness annually, representative of a national crisis that has been greatly amplified by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping vulnerable youth find solutions and services is more important than ever before.
Our primary youth homelessness effort on the awareness and advocacy front is a partnership with the Lost in America Foundation, in which we serve as a catalyst to help advance its keynote project – the documentary film, Lost in America, which debuts June 9 on a variety of platforms, including Amazon Video, Vudu, iTunes, Roku and other video-on-demand services, as well as DVD.
Filmmaker Rotimi Rainwater turned his own lived experience as a homeless youth into inspiration for both the film and the Lost in America Foundation, which has become a multi-year journey to shed light on and drive national attention to the issue. With strategic investment from Sands, Lost in America premiered in Los Angeles on February 28 to critical acclaim from outlets like Variety, which praised Rainwater for “compassionately [chronicling] the country’s urgent crisis of youth homelessness.” With the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and others adding praise of their own, the film’s opening weekend saw it garnering a 100% “Fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
In its quest to cast a lens on the struggles of homeless youth in America, the film follows youth living on the streets throughout the United States – each with an individual story representative of the intervening factors that lead to homelessness. The aim, according to Rainwater, is to lead people toward understanding of the full scope of the issue and move them to action. “We’re getting more eyes on the issue – That’s the reason we made this film,” Rainwater said. For Rainwater, Lost in America is more than a film. His mission is to drive an entire movement toward awareness and solutions propelled by the power of media. “We have a long-term plan in place to get the message out about youth homelessness,” he continued.
The awareness plan includes leveraging the film as well as A Night to End Youth Homelessness, which was a nationwide sleepout organized by the Lost In America Foundation this past November with support from Sands. The Foundation used the sleepout to put a spotlight on the debut of the film and unite people around the country in advocating for youth experiencing homelessness. More than 150 different organizations from around the United States participated, with the event Livestream generating over 2,000 hits. The Foundation also is creating the first national public service announcement to educate and create a call-to-action on youth homelessness.
Along with corporate support from Sands, Rainwater has amassed an all-star cast of supporters to help create a national conversation, including Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish and Jewel, who wrote the film’s original song, “No More Tears.”
Rainwater credits these celebrity supporters and Sands for recognizing the urgency of his mission and being instrumental in helping the Lost in America Foundation kick off the national push to spread its message. “Without Sands, there would be no Foundation,” Rainwater said. “The company’s support and guidance helped us believe we could actually make this journey a reality.”