People Trust founder Arlo Washington is featured in the oscar nominee documentary "The Barber of Little Rock"

Arlo Washington, the man behind Oscar-nominated "The Barber of Little Rock," during an interview at the 2022 OFN Southeast Regional Meeting in Berea, KY.

CDFIs Rally Behind Oscar Nominee “The Barber of Little Rock”    

Caroline Valvardi, Vice President of Marketing, Opportunity Finance Network

Up for best documentary short film at the Academy Awards on March 10, “The Barber of Little Rock” tells the story of People Trust founder Arlo Washington and his CDFI’s work to create a just economy in rural Arkansas.  

Read time: 5 minutes

What are you doing the evening of Sunday, March 10? Tuning in to the 96th Academy Awards, we hope! Don’t miss this thrilling opportunity to watch the CDFI industry represented by Oscar nominee “The Barber of Little Rock” on one of the biggest stages in the world. 

One of five films nominated in the Best Documentary Shorts category, “The Barber of Little Rock” explores the racial wealth gap and solutions that CDFIs like People Trust provide. The film documents Arlo Washington’s journey from starting his own barber school in 2008 to founding OFN member People Trust Community Loan Fund the same year to address his students’ unmet credit needs, with initial funding coming from his own paycheck.  

From left: People Trust’s Ronnie Marshall and Arlo Washington; Oregon Community Foundation’s Lisa Mensah; and OFN’s Harold Pettigrew, together at the 2023 OFN Conference.

In 2022, Arlo launched People Trust Community Federal Credit Union – the first Black-owned bank in Arkansas – to further expand financial services in the community. Prior to People Trust, no banks existed in the predominately Black community of 30,000 residents where Arlo is from, while the predominately white community of 8,000, located across a nearby interstate that divides the region, had 14 banks.

The barber of Little Rock, movie cover

Wanting to produce a film about closing the racial wealth gap, directors John Hoffman and Christine Turner discovered Arlo’s inspiring story through OFN Board Chair and first CDFI Fund Director, Donna Gambrell. They contacted her after learning about CDFIs in the highly acclaimed book “The Color of Money.” Activist and Hall of Fame NBA player Dwyane Wade is also one of the film’s executive producers. 

Haven’t watched the documentary yet? View it on YouTube! Also, learn more about the film in the featured press below.

Share “The Barber of Little Rock” with Your Network! 

Whether or not “The Barber of Little Rock” takes home an Oscar, the film is a powerful way to help new and existing industry supporters better understand what CDFIs do, why they exist, and why our approach is so impactful. Share the film with your family, friends, and professional network! Also, tag OFN in your posts so we can share them too. 

Suggested social media caption: 

The Barber of Little Rock makes me proud to be part of the CDFI industry! Watch this powerful Oscar-nominated film about the racial wealth gap and how #CDFIs like People Trust create economic opportunity in underinvested communities.

***If the film wins the Oscar and you post on social media after the event, change “Oscar-nominated” to “Oscar-winning”!***

From The Kelly Clarkson Show to CBS News, check out a few places where “The Barber of Little Rock” has shown up lately! 

  • The Kelly Clarkson ShowKelly Clarkson Meets Oscar Nominee ‘The Barber of Little Rock’ Arlo Washington
  • Business InsiderI’ve lent people more than $63 million to buy homes and start businesses: ‘If you see a problem, fix the problem’ 
  • CBS NewsMeet Arlo Washington, the man behind the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Barber of Little Rock” 
  • The AnklerWatch in full The Barber of Little Rock, EP’d by Dwyane Wade + The New Yorker I Academy Award Nominated Documentary Short Film 
  • KCRWOscar nominee ‘Barber of Little Rock’ exposes wealth gap in US 
  • Amanpour and CompanyOscar-Nominated Film “The Barber of Little Rock” Explores Banking While Black | Amanpour and Company
  • The Tonight Show with Jimmy FallonDwyane Wade Talks Oscar-Nominated Documentary, Kobe Bryant’s Inspiration & Versace Sunglasses Line
  • TODAYDwyane Wade talks life after NBA, new podcast, Oscar nom
  • DEADLINE‘The Barber Of Little Rock,’ Oscar-Contending Film About Heroic Warrior For Economic Justice, Gets Assist From Dwyane Wade 
  • Arkansas Democrat-GazetteAcclaimed short explores Little Rock barber’s impact
  • The New YorkerOne Man’s Fight to Close the Racial Wealth Gap, in “The Barber of Little Rock”
  • The Hollywood ReporterDwyane Wade-EP’d Doc Short ‘The Barber of Little Rock’ Acquired by the New Yorker for Oscar Run (Exclusive)

We wish much success this weekend to Arlo, People Trust, and all those involved with making the film!  

Hear More from Arlo Washington

In this 2022 interview with OFN at our Southeast Regional Meeting in Berea, Kentucky, Arlo talks about how People Trust creates change, why investing in CDFIs is so important, and more.

Interested in learning more about OFN members investing in your community?

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