Storytelling Grant Highlights

Courageous Storytelling

We believe that there is a need for compelling stories about who we are, how we should live, and our purpose on this planet. This moment of global transition requires translation. How can we imagine a new world without sharing brilliant stories about what the future could be—how it might taste, smell, sound, and feel? To us, courageous storytelling means:

  • Disrupting our understanding of the status quo, or giving voice to previously unheard narratives.
  • Using visual art, music, drama, film, writing, and creative social media to amplify critical issues and to blend personal with political, emotional with intellectual.

A description of grants we have made this year in Storytelling can be found below. Please read about what we support for more information.

2016 Grants
Aaron Davidman Performance Project / Intersection for the Arts Wrestling Jerusalem Campus Tour Initiative $25,000
Wrestling Jerusalem is a film that models the value of holding multiple perspectives on a single divisive issue. Empathy is a necessary ingredient in the process of intercultural understanding and peacebuilding, and the Wrestling Jerusalem campus tour initiative uses the art of film to move audiences to feel for human beings they might normally consider “other.” This film offers a model for the possibility of more nuanced conversation concerning our world’s most fractious topics, beginning with the Israel/Palestine conflict, but certainly not ending there. Support for Wrestling Jerusalem in 2016 will bring the films to campuses across the country to model and facilitate an approach to community dialogue that takes us beyond polemic and towards mutual understanding.

Active Voice Lab How Do We Know? $50,000/2 years
Filmmakers have diverse goals when they set out to make a film. Those goals might include: unearthing an invisible truth, engaging people with different perspectives, helping to change policy, supporting a movement, or digging deeply into an issue that needs attention. Active Voice Lab builds tools that help filmmakers, activists, funders, and policymakers maximize the impact of their films. A second year of support will help AV Lab deepen its How Do We Know? initiative by demonstrating the ways in which different kinds of measurement tools can be applied appropriately to various kinds of stories and campaigns. Using a horticulture metaphor, AV Lab will create and support a common lexicon that can help filmmakers and their partners talk more deliberately and vividly about what can and can't be measured when creativity is part of the equation.

Aftermath Project General Support $25,000
Based on the premise that “war is only half the story,” the Aftermath Project has, for the last decade, given grants to photographers to capture the aftermath of conflict, each year self-publishing and distributing a book of the winner’s work. A 2016 grant to Aftermath will support marking the organization’s tenth anniversary with a major traveling exhibition, a commercial book, educational materials, and community engagement. The Aftermath Project will use this important anniversary to celebrate the photographers it has partnered with, to showcase their photography, and to launch even broader conversations designed to engage the public on the true cost of war, the real price of peace, and the role of visual literacy in helping us understand these issues.

Arctic Cycle General Support $20,000
The Arctic Cycle uses artistic engagement and advocacy to communicate the urgency of the global climate crisis and encourage people to take action. Its artistic engagement efforts focus on supporting the writing, development, and production of a cycle of eight plays by playwright Chantal Bilodeau, which examine the social and ecological changes that climate change is causing in the eight countries of the Arctic. Its arts and advocacy efforts also include the blog Artists And Climate Change (AAAC) and the project Climate Change Theater Action, which bring together and amplify the work of artists from all over the world who are addressing issues related to climate change. A renewal grant will support upcoming plays and the organization’s growing influence at the intersection of theater, art, and climate.

BRITDOC, Inc. General Support $50,000
BRITDOC is dedicated to the impact of art and the art of impact. Founded in 2005, it supports great documentary films and links them to audiences by providing direct funding, brokering partnerships, building new business models, and sharing knowledge with filmmakers through programs like its Impact Award, which honors five films a year for the real-world changes brought about by their impact campaigns, and Good Pitch, which brings together potential funders and advocacy partners for film teams to meet and pitch. A general support grant will give BRITDOC room to experiment with new, innovative programming in support of the documentary film as a whole. Based in London and New York, BRITDOC works with filmmakers and partners globally, reaching audiences all over the world.

Cape Farewell General Support $100,000/2 years
Cape Farewell pioneers the cultural response to climate change, working internationally to bring together artists, scientists, communicators, and influencers. A second year of funding will support its cross-disciplinary efforts to create a cultural space in which new modes of interrogation--on an emotional, human scale--can be evolved and amplified, conveying the urgency of the global climate crisis. Cape Farewell's Energy Renaissance project invites artists to create engaging public visions of what a local community could look like if it became carbon-neutral. Its Rural Residency Program brings artists to work and live with farmers; they then create public art on land use and food systems. In partnership with the University of Arts London and Falmouth University, Cape Farewell is designing Art and Climate masters and doctoral programs to train, mentor, and connect young artists working on climate and, in 2016, it will explore expanding ArtCOP21, a global climate art festival produced in collaboration with the French arts organization COAL, beyond the bounds of the UN climate negotiations.

Capital Institute General Support $50,000
Global threats—from climate change, to the financial crisis of 2008 and accelerating inequality, to the refugee crisis—have led an increasing number of thought leaders and policymakers to question the long-term viability of today’s dominant form of capitalism. Capital Institute (CI) is helping to create a roadmap for the new political economy by developing an integrated theoretical framework built on diverse economic thought, systems science, and the teachings of major wisdom traditions. With its Regenerative Capitalism framework, CI has laid the foundation for a science-based “new economics” that is aligned with the patterns and principles of living systems and the evolutionary process itself. A Compton grant will help CI activate this new model—testing, learning, and adapting the framework to real world contexts through collaborations, education, and engaged storytelling.

Chicken & Egg Pictures / Tides Center General Support $30,000
Chicken & Egg Pictures (C&E) supports female nonfiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change. Since 2005, C&E has awarded over $4 million in grants and 5,200 hours of mentorship to more than 200 film projects. Films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have won major awards, pushed creative and social boundaries, and worked side by side with on-the-ground movements to effect change in public policy and community practice.

Creative Catalysts Bureau of Linguistical Reality $25,000
Created in 2014, The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is a public participatory artwork by Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott. Through collaborations with the public, the Bureau creates new words to better explain the experience of living in a world marked by climate change and other anthropogenic events. The process of coming up with these neologisms facilitates deeper conversations about the realities they seek to express, furthering a greater cultural shift around climate change. Just as new maps are being drawn to reflect a world with higher sea levels, new words can reflect, and help us confront, our rapidly changing world. A 2016 grant to the Bureau will bring this art project to more communities, particularly those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

CultureStrike / Citizen Engagement Lab Climate Change: Influencing the Culture of Eco-Activism Through Art $50,000
CultureStrike strengthens climate justice advocacy by leading with stories from artists from communities that are disproportionately affected by ecological destruction: migrants, people of color, and low-income families. The organization believes that cultural strategies rooted in first-person narratives can advance larger stories of impact, resistance, and resilience to build momentum for public action and policy change. A 2016 grant will support CultureStrike’s work to: 1) enable artists to engage in climate activism and help environmental justice organizations develop cultural strategies by providing training and creating connections; 2) disseminate art that expands the imagination and motivates change by linking cultural equity, environmentalism, and frontline communities; and 3) draw connections between migration, climate disasters, and adaptation—the right to stay and the instinct to move—through rapid response artistic productions in key movement moments.

Grist Magazine General Support $100,000/2 years
Grist, an independent, irreverent, online media platform, shows how green is reshaping the world, and empowers a new generation to make change. Founded in 1999, the magazine has earned a reputation as an indispensable source of environmental stories for a monthly audience of 2,000,000 and growing. In the second year of a two-year grant from Compton, Grist will continue to use humor to cover serious subjects, reach outside the choir, and give people across the country and around the world the information they need to forge a world that is healthy, sustainable, and equitable.

Just Vision General Support $50,000
The popular narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian context paints the conflict as intractable: it highlights ongoing violence and top-down political developments, and disregards the efforts of those who strive to build a future of freedom, dignity, and equality. Just Vision lifts up these stories and shines a spotlight on these leaders’ power, using storytelling strategies, including film, graphic novels, and news media, to change perspectives, shape public conversations, and galvanize action. Its overarching goal is to contribute to fostering peace and an end to the occupation by rendering Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders more visible, valued, and effective in their efforts. A renewal grant will support Just Vision’s work to drive attention to compelling local role models in unarmed movement-building and demonstrate to journalists, community leaders and students—in the US, Israel, Palestine and beyond—what is possible when leaders at the grassroots choose to act.

Magnum Foundation General Support $100,000/2 years
Now in the second year of a two-year grant, Magnum Foundation (MF) will continue to champion in-depth, independent documentary photography that fosters empathy, engagement, and positive social change. MF provides photographers with the financial support and comprehensive mentorship they need to produce meaningful, high-impact visual stories. It leverages its uniquely powerful partnerships in the journalism, activism, and arts communities to disseminate work across platforms to both broad and tactical audiences. Magnum’s Emergency Fund supports 10-15 passionate photographers working on under-reported issues related to social injustice each year. MF continually seeks new strategies for increased exposure and impact of documentary photography in an ever-changing media landscape by way of field-building and interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as ongoing explorations of how to help documentary photographers tell visual stories that go beyond newspaper, magazine, and book publishing.

Mother Jones Climate Desk $50,000
Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration formed in 2009 to confront the decline of climate change and environmental reporting and to provide new angles on the climate change narrative. Its mission is to explore the human, environmental, economic, and political impacts of a changing climate, while increasing coverage of climate change through shared resources and collaboration. Through the Climate Desk, participating media organizations—including The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting/Reveal, CityLab, Fusion, Grist, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Medium, Mother Jones, The New Republic, Newsweek, Slate, and Wired—fill a void in environmental reporting by producing and sharing content that explores climate change in new, engaging ways. These outlets share a simple goal: to tell the story of climate change better than it's ever been told before, and to share it with the broadest audience possible, at a time when it's needed more than ever.

New Venture Fund AndACTION $30,000
Borrowing the idea of a director shouting “Action!” on set to put things into motion, AndACTION seeks to leverage the power of storytelling to make the world a better place. The project connects advocacy organizations to upcoming film and television storylines that deal with important social and environmental issues—think “Scandal” and reproductive rights, or “The Good Wife” and gun violence. AndACTION works as a hub where nonprofits can learn about upcoming projects that deal with the issues they are working on, and provides resources and guidance for them to take full advantage of the media buzz opportunity those stories provide. A 2016 grant from Compton will provide early support for launch and evaluation.

Not An Alternative Natural History Museum $50,000
The Natural History Museum highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums. With a renewal grant this year, it aims to inspire established science and natural history museums to champion climate action, and equip museum visitors with the stories and tools they need to understand the rapidly changing world and shape it for the common good. Deploying both inside and outside engagement strategies, it will collaborate with scientists, museum employees and professional associations, environmental justice groups, artists, and others to create a new narrative about our shared natural history that educates, measurably influences public opinion, and inspires collective action.

Pacific News Service dba New America Media Ethnic Media Newsbeat for Climate Change Resilience $50,000
Ethnic Media Newsbeat for Climate Change Resilience is a cross-cultural project to build the capacity of the ethnic media sector to report on climate adaptation. With Compton funding, New American Media will select, train, and support a cohort of ethnic media journalists in Seattle, Boston, and Miami to report on issues related to climate impacts in their communities, including profiling emerging climate justice leaders. Print and multimedia reporting, paired with maps overlaying sea rise with social vulnerability, will be grounded in neighborhood-level storytelling to link the often abstract issue of climate change with the realities of community experience. Stories will be shared with a wide audience directly through the participating media outlets, across New American Media’s network, and in translations and syndication on a unique landing page.

Peace and Security Funders’ Group General Support $50,000
The Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG) is a network of public, private and family foundations, and individual philanthropists who make grants that contribute to peace and global security. PSFG seeks to enhance the effectiveness of peace and security grantmaking by facilitating the exchange of information and ideas, fostering collaboration, and providing educational opportunities for its members. Over the course of the next year, PSFG will continue to support its members to develop positive, compelling peace narratives that appeal to a broad cross-section of the American and global public.

PF Pictures / International Documentary Association The Age of Consequences $25,000
The Age of Consequences is a documentary film that investigates the impacts of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Distinguished admirals, generals, and military veterans take us beyond the headlines of the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, and the European refugee crisis, sharing their concerns about how climate change stressors interact with societal tensions, leading to crisis and conflict. The film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise function as “accelerants of instability” in volatile regions of the world, and shows how unmitigated climate change could have grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century. Compton funding for The Age of Consequences will support its impact campaign.

Revolutions Per Minute General Support $150,000/3 years
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) connects the most pressing issues of our time to the emotive power and broad audience reach of musicians and comedians. Founded in 2005 by musicians, managers, and advisors from bands including Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, and REM, RPM provides the more than 1000 performers in its network with the ongoing support and resources they need to apply their talents as storytellers and build their skills as leaders in social and environmental justice efforts. RPM ensures that artists are taking action in the most strategic ways possible, amplifying existing groups and movements and contributing much-needed resources in the form of creativity, new supporters, funding, and awareness. Now in the second year of a three-year grant, RPM will focus on scaling up its new philanthropic program, helping artists raise money for their causes through ticket “add-ons,” as well as providing strategic counsel and technical support to help artists make a difference on the causes they care most about.

RH Reality Check General Support $100,000/2 years
RH Reality Check (RHRC) is an evidence-based, daily, online publication reflecting progressive values and a commitment to reproductive and sexual justice. The organization works in a fast-paced media environment to produce news, analysis, commentary, and investigative research combined with strategic community engagement. A second year of Compton support will fund its efforts to 1) disrupt conventional and misleading media narratives on reproductive rights and justice issues; 2) proactively inform public debates among and between policymakers, advocates, researchers, and the interested public; and 3) respond rapidly to distortions of reproductive rights and justice issues by right-wing organizations.

Sea Change Program General Support $40,000
The Sea Change Program seeks a world that upholds the dignity and humanity of all people as they move through their reproductive lives. A major barrier to reproductive health and justice is reproductive stigma, or the shared understanding that some sexual and reproductive experiences are normal and natural, while others are morally wrong, inferior, or unacceptable. Sea Change is tackling reproductive stigma with an intersectional lens, as issues such as racism, classism, sexual discrimination, and violence all play a role in the stigma felt by individuals in their sexual and reproductive decisions. A renewal grant will support Sea Change in designing and carrying out culture change programming on the issue of reproductive stigma that is accessible to many audiences and that builds bridges between the voices that need to be heard and the ears that need to hear those voices.

Split This Rock Eco-Justice Poetry Project $20,000
Split This Rock asserts that poetry and the arts shape how we view the world, and if we are to begin to imagine environmental justice as a human right, we will need new stories and poems to shift cultural perception. To that end, Split This Rock’s Eco-Justice Poetry Project curates poetry at the intersection of social justice, culture, and the environment, bringing together poets and community activists around issues of environmental justice. A renewal grant will support several major projects, including editing Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press) and curating Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week and its database of socially engaged poetry. Split This Rock will also develop an eco-justice poetry curriculum, and will collaborate with environmental justice communities and poets to host poetry readings, writing workshops, and collaborative actions.

Steinem Initiative / Smith College Smith College $30,000
The Steinem Initiative’s Reproductive Politics project aims to create tools that connect reproductive rights, health, and justice organizers with their histories. The project draws on a critical mass of new archival materials that document the experiences of women of color, sexual minorities, and low-income women. While their testimonies of oppression and resistance can be disheartening, they also introduce inspiring foremothers as role models, suggest instructive comparisons with earlier activism, and weave a counter-narrative that engages new supporters who see themselves reflected in the more inclusive story. A 2016 grant will support a design process to explore how reproductive justice histories can be most useful to reproductive justice activists and advocates. At a time when opponents of women’s self-determination take advantage of the lack of full accounts of reproductive politics and rely on stereotypes and half-truths, this project offers women’s history as an organizing tool with potential to broaden the vision, strengthen the strategy, and expand the base of the movement for reproductive rights, health, and justice.

Sundance Institute Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program $50,000
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) was established in 2002 as a global resource for independent nonfiction storytelling. Led by award-winning nonfiction producer and director Tabitha Jackson, the DFP believes that art changes the way we reach people. It focuses on the values of “Art, Reach, and Change” by encouraging excellence and experimentation in form, championing under-represented voices, and supporting the social and creative impact of documentary through its distribution and outreach arm, Artist Services. Nonfiction filmmakers worldwide receive support through direct grants, Creative Labs, events, and workshops at the Sundance Creative Producers Summit and Sundance Film Festival—a continuum of year-round creative and financial support enables new and influential practitioners in independent documentary to produce films of quality and depth that thrive in the field.

the bomb / Women Make Movies the bomb $40,000
the bomb is a film and music experience that presents the reality of nuclear weapons to a new generation with visceral immediacy. the bomb conveys the magnitude of the potential calamity brought on by nuclear weapon technology and the sheer impossibility of controlling these weapons in the long term. Compton will provide finishing funds and impact campaign support, and the bomb will open the experiential program of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

Transform Climate Benefits for All: Changing the Narrative on Cap and Trade $30,000
Through California's climate program, billions of dollars are flowing to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while making communities more sustainable, healthy, and fair. The funds are generated through a mechanism called cap-and-trade, which requires polluters to pay for the carbon they put into the air, and are invested in projects and programs that further reduce climate pollution. These investments result in enormous environmental benefits--including emissions reductions, energy savings, and cleaner air to breathe and water to drink--and community benefits--such as better mobility, more affordable places to live, and new economic opportunities. California has dedicated a minimum of 25% of this funding to disadvantaged communities, areas identified by the state as having disproportionately borne the burden of pollution, racism, and disinvestment. Climate Benefits for California illustrates all investments from cap-and-trade, tallies the benefits, and shows how these investments are improving communities across the state. With a 2016 grant from Compton, TransForm and its partners will use mapping and storytelling to highlight this model climate solution as a win-win strategy for economic justice, public health, and climate action.

University of New Mexico Art & Art History / University of New Mexico Foundation Hack the Grid $50,000
A project of artist Andrea Polli and the Social Media Workgroup at University of New Mexico, “Hack the Grid” uses tools of the hacker and maker movements to tell the story of the future of energy in this era of climate change through public and accessible art, media, and design. Hack the Grid projects this year will include 1) using low-cost, open source hardware and sensors to measure, monitor, and share data about the effects of fossil fuels, including building maps of pollution; 2) designing tools that interact with cars’ computers to promote reducing fossil fuel use in engaging ways; 3) collaborating with and around local power grids to design creative public art installations; and 4) designing creative bio-sensors for detecting pollutants caused by fossil fuels. A grant will support this innovative work to make visible the many invisible ways human choices are affecting the fabric of our planet.

US Department of Arts and Culture / Prime Produce General Support $30,000
The US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is an action network of artists and cultural workers mobilizing creativity in the service of social and environmental justice. Locally, USDAC supports individuals in leading arts-infused civic dialogues and changemaking initiatives, connecting them to training, resources, and one another. Nationally, the organization amplifies impact through large-scale actions and calls for creative response, building momentum for positive social change and democratic cultural policy. With a 2016 grant, USDAC will train artists and activists to lead culture shift in their communities, and engage individuals and groups across the US in storytelling that illuminates the state of our union and their visions of a just and sustainable future. Playfully performing the work of a people-powered department, USDAC harnesses artists’ skills to address the issues of our day, while also nourishing the artist in us all.

Williams College Museum of Art Williams College Addressing Climate Change Through Socially Engaged Art $30,000
The Williams College Museum of Art will partner with international art collective Ghana ThinkTank on a project that disrupts and reframes community members' narratives about climate change. Ghana ThinkTank’s mission is to “develop the first world.” It collects problems in the so-called “developed world” and sends them to citizen think tanks in developing countries to generate solutions. At Williams, the artists will bring together students, faculty, and residents from the surrounding rural community who will operate a mobile unit to solicit local problems related to climate change. Ghana ThinkTank will send these problems to think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia and the Williams team will implement the suggested solutions on campus, culminating in a participatory museum installation. This project is an opportunity to center artistic inquiry and personal engagement in Williams College’s yearlong, campus-wide, academic inquiry into climate change.,