Docs In Progress

Creating Community Through Documentary

Silver Spring, MD   |


Docs In Progress gives individuals the tools to tell stories through documentary film to educate, inspire, and transform the way people view their world.

Notes from the nonprofit

Thank you for visiting the Docs In Progress Guidestar page. We believe everyone has a story to tell. As a nonprofit dedicated to support films and filmmakers who are "in progress," and Docs is continuing to grow in capacity and impact. In 2023, we have returned to our office for in-person programming as well as continue virtual offerings. In late 2022, Docs unveiled its new website to include a comprehensive workshop menu. New engagement programs have been created between high school teens and 55+ [Village Reels] And we were recently, named one of six organizations worldwide to the AVID Learning Collective, and serving as an AVID Academic Learning Partner. This is just a window into expanding programs, and introducing Docs to new constituents who find a space for energy, expression, and empowerment through the power of documentary storytelling. We welcome you to join us on this journey.

Ruling year info



Ms. Barbara Valentino

Main address

8560 Second Avenue Suite 113

Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA

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NTEE code info

Film, Video (A31)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In an era when fake news and reality TV have become the norm, documenting true stories is more important than ever. Documentary filmmakers have become the investigative journalists, social activists, and griots of our time. While more people than ever now have access to the equipment to use video as a storytelling tool to document people and history, we give them the tools to become great storytellers, connect with peers, and get their work out into the world to connect with audiences.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Public Screening Programs

Docs In Progress screenings are aimed building community through documentary by connecting filmmakers and audiences at public screenings which are largely free or modestly priced.  Screenings take place in Washington DC, Takoma Park, MD, and Silver Spring, MD.

Our longest-running program is the Work-in-Progress Screening Series in which we show unfinished documentaries by local and visiting documentary filmmakers.  Following the screening, we moderate a feedback session with the audience.  This honest and constructive feedback is aimed at helping the filmmaker get to the next stage of completing and distributing the film.

Our annual Community Stories Film Festival spotlights documentaries by our students and local professional filmmakers about people, places, history, and happenings in the Greater Washington DC area.

The National Endowment for the Arts has supported a new screening series called "Docs In The City" where we pair experienced and emerging documentary filmmakers around a theme or sub-genre of documentary. To date, we have organized screenings around the themes of personal documentaries, coming-of-age documentaries, and identity-focused documentaries.

We also showcase year-round free screenings and discussions of finished documentary works by alumni of our programs and other local filmmakers.

We are currently raising funds to build our own microcinema screening space at our new location in downtown Silver Spring, MD where we will be moving in January 2019. This space will be used for our programs and other work by local independent filmmakers.

Population(s) Served

Docs In Progress gives training classes and professional development workshops aimed at helping people new to filmmaking learn how to make documentaries and those who already have some experience further hone their skills. 

We offer hands-on production and video editing classes, as well as classes and workshops on documentary producing, videography, Smart Phone video, fundraising, budgeting, treatment writing, legal issues, outreach, and more.

Population(s) Served

Docs In Progress organizes spring break and summer break daycamps for middle school and high school students who want to learn documentary production and storytelling. Students produce short documentary profiles of local stories, causes they believe in, or autobiographical pieces. Camps have taken place at our own space in downtown Silver Spring, MD and at the Takoma Park Community Center.

Since 2017, with support from the Jim & Carol Trawick Foundation, we have organized an after-school filmmaking enrichment program for at-risk youth at a middle school.

In addition, we have served in an advisory capacity to youth media programs.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

Docs In Progress is proud to be a part of a diverse, vibrant, and historic community in Silver Spring and the larger communities of Montgomery County, Maryland and the Washington DC Metropolitan area.  Our Community Stories program is a way for us to document the stories of this community while also doing what we do best -- educating up-and-coming documentary filmmakers. We have created a way for those learning video production to do so while also documenting contemporary stories from the region.

To allow both our adult and youth production students to focus on learning effective storytelling and the technical aspects of using a camera and editing equipment, we identify local businesses, organizations, and individuals who would be the subjects of their 3-5 minute videos.  Docs In Progress students have produced short films about local nonprofits, small businesses, individuals, and issues. 
The films are screened each year at a free community film festival.

Population(s) Served

Docs In Progress provides a host of artist services aimed at more experienced documentary filmmakers or those who have moved beyond the basics, but still need support to progress with their films and their careers.

These programs include:

FELLOWSHIP: Selected filmmakers from across the Washington DC/Baltimore Metro area come together over eight months for facilitated meetings where they come together to share progress with their projects and get feedback and accountability for moving forward with their films.

FILMMAKER RESIDENCY: An established documentary filmmaker is selected each year from a competitive worldwide call for applications to work at the Docs In Progress headquarters to develop a new project and share his/her work with the local filmmaking community.

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP: Selected projects may apply for grants and receive individual donations through the umbrella of Docs In Progress.

PEER PITCH: A program where documentary filmmakers with works-in-progress at any stage of development can have a supportive environment to give their pitches a test run and give and get feedback to/from other filmmakers. Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Arts, we have expanded this program from our own region to programs in the West, Midwest, and South.

CONSULTATION SERVICES: One-on-one consultations with documentary filmmakers based anywhere to help them overcome challenges in storytelling and structure or strategize how to get started on their projects or raise funds.

DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER ROUNDTABLES AND MEET-UPS: These events are part opportunities for the Washington DC area filmmaking community to network and to share best practices through a combination of giving/getting feedback on each other's trailers or hearing from experts on a variety of topics.

Population(s) Served

Docs In Progress has offered special programs aimed at building the video communications know-how of nonprofit organizations. This has included:

* One day conferences with panels and workshops on best practices in building documentary-style video into nonprofit communications strategy;
* Targeted hands-on workshops in video production for nonprofit communications staff;
* Scholarships so that nonprofit staff can take our production workshops at half the normal fee.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Honorary Award for Service to Community 2013


Selected for Catalogue 2014-2015 2014

Catalogue for Philanthropy

Selected for Catalogue 2019-2023 2023

Catalogue for Philantrophy

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our focus is on fostering a community of visual storytellers with fresh perspectives crucial to civic discourse, social change, and greater awareness of key issues confronting our society. By cultivating diverse voices in documentary projects, we also seek to deepen the public's experience, understanding, and appreciation for documentary as a form of art and expression. We do this by offering an array of programs aimed at connecting aspiring and experienced documentary filmmakers with each other and the broader community.

Docs In Progress is committed to:

* Offering opportunities for documentary filmmakers to be immersed in an environment where they can explore the art of cinematic storytelling and have the freedom to make films that reflect a diverse range of topics and viewpoints.

* Maintaining a supportive artistic environment built on honesty, trust and openness that allows filmmakers to share ideas, learn from others and develop their individual potential.

* Connecting the public with documentary filmmakers and their work in the belief that this form of engagement enhances the work of the filmmakers, public understanding of the creative process, and the artistic, cultural, and civic life of the community.

* Cultivating collaborative community partnerships that encourage and inspire new levels of creativity.

Docs In Progress has been offering programs aimed at supporting the filmmaking community, particularly in the Washington DC Metropolitan area, since 2004. We have been a nonprofit since 2008. In that timeframe, we have grown our programs, our constituency, and have broadened the definition of who can be a documentary storyteller.

Our staff, our board, and our teaching artists all have expertise and experience they bring to our programming and we have been supported by an enthusiastic community of donors, volunteers, program partners, and grant-makers such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation, and many others.

Thousands of documentary filmmakers have been through our programs. To help meet increasing demand for our programs and services, Docs In Progress is excited to be moving into a new space in January 2019 which will expand our capacity through doubling our physical size, incorporating a screening space as well as office space and classrooms, and reducing our rent so we can also expand program capacity through staffing growth.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve


Docs In Progress

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Docs In Progress

Board of directors
as of 05/27/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Kris Higgins

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Term: 2021 - 2023

Jay Elvove

University of Maryland (Retired)

G.T. Keplinger

Stevenson University

Julie Wolf- Rodda


Dawne Langford


Day Al-Mohammad

[on hiatus]

John Seelke

Montgomery Cty Public Schools

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/27/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/27/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.