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An Oscar nod and the MassMutual Foundation

Dennis Duquette

Posted on January 30, 2024

Dennis Duquette is MassMutual's head of community responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation.

It’s not every day that one gets a telephone call that a project with which you’re involved is nominated for an Oscar.

It’s also not every day that the project so perfectly aligns with the work you do that you couldn’t have scripted it better.

But that’s exactly what happened with The Barber of Little Rock — a documentary short about a man named Arlo Washington and how he has brought hope and the potential for prosperity to his community.

About a year ago, a documentary film producer I know reached out to me with Arlo’s story, thinking that it tracked nicely with the work we’re doing to build financial resiliency in communities through the MassMutual Foundation. He was right.

Arlo’s story is truly an American success story. Fueled by his passion, focus, and work ethic — coupled with the hopes and aspirations of his fellow community members — Arlo has built financial and economic potential where it previously did not exist.

His tale begins with opening a barber shop, which grew into a barber shop school to teach others how to become business owners themselves. It goes on to how he finally opened his community’s first community development financial institution (CDFI) — a crucial lending option for urban and rural communities typically lacking in traditional banking and financial institutions.

CDFIs are one important alternative to the predatory lending and check cashing storefronts that typify underbanked and unbanked communities, crushing residents with exorbitant interest rates and cycles of financial distress. Arlo is working hard to change all that.

Arlo Washington personifies what it means to Live Mutual. His story is emblematic of the most important lessons we are learning every day through our work at the MassMutual Foundation as we strive to help families in struggling communities build their financial capability and thrive; lessons that show us time and again that the residents of the communities with whom we work are essential in helping to identify solutions to the challenges they face.

And to that end, the MassMutual Foundation is honored to be one of a small, select group of funders supporting Arlo Washington’s remarkable story. Congratulations to The Barber of Little Rock on its nomination for an Oscar for Best Short Documentary Film.

Interested in watching it? It’s available here.

Discover more from MassMutual…

Financial literacy matters…and how we help

Building social capital: A path forward

Helping build an inclusive community


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The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel. Opinions expressed by those interviewed are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.