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.

2014 Grants
Active Voice Horticulture at AV Lab $30,000
Documentary filmmakers have diverse goals when they set out to make a film. Those goals might include: unearth an invisible truth, reach large numbers of people, change policy, support a movement, tell a great story, or dig deeply into an issue that needs attention. Active Voice works with filmmakers, activists, funders, and policymakers to design and implement plans that help films maximize their impacts as parts of “ecosystems of change.” It created the Lab for Story and Strategy in 2009 to design and pilot new tools to ensure that important documentary films were as effective as possible in making change in the world. A 2014 grant will support the Lab’s new ‘Horticulture’ tool, a participatory research effort that will map and share a common lexicon to help filmmakers and their partners talk more deliberately and vividly about how different films might serve different purposes and audiences, and how to evaluate and track the appropriate types of impact for each kind of film.

Air Traffic Control Education Fund General Support $50,000
Recognizing the extraordinary power of music, Air Traffic Control (ATC) connects the most pressing issues of our time to the emotive power and broad audience reach of musicians and comedians. ATC provides artists with the on-going support and resources they need to apply their talents as storytellers and build their skills as leaders and role models in social and environmental justice efforts. When these inspired artists take a step towards action, ATC ensures that they are doing so 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. Compton funding in 2014 will support ATC’s expansion into other creative realms and the development and sharing of an evaluation tool that will better assess artists’ activities and social engagement potential. ATC fills an important niche by resourcing culture-makers to affect change on a range of progressive issues.

Building Movement Project General Support $30,000
The Building Movement Project (fiscal sponsor: Demos) works to strengthen the role of US nonprofit organizations as sites of democratic practice. It seeks to advance ways nonprofits can significantly contribute to building movement by amplifying the voice and power of constituents and communities that have been marginalized. The Project occupies a unique niche between local service providers and those working on broader systemic social change, often helping these two communities work more effectively together for improved services as well as broader social changes in policy and culture. A 2014 grant will help the Project to deepen its knowledge on leadership and alliance building, with a particular focus on lessons from collaborative work between reproductive justice groups and others in New Mexico that helped secure the victory of the “Respect ABQ Women” campaign, an alliance of community organizations and women’s advocacy groups that came together to defeat an ballot measure aimed at limiting access to safe and legal abortions.

Cape Farewell Zone Zero - The High Arctic $50,000
Since 2001, Cape Farewell has been bringing together artists, scientists, and communicators to develop creative work that can catalyze climate action. A 2014 grant will support the planning process for two High Arctic expeditions in 2015, including pre-work to identify venues for exhibitions, events, and film showings. The first expedition will be a journey to Baffin Island in May to work with the Inuit community to understand climate changes in the Arctic from a human perspective. A second expedition in September will take two sailing vessels to the Franz Josef Islands in the far north of the Russian Arctic in partnership with the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow, focusing on the science of polar transformation. This ‘Zone Arctic’ project will explore the duality and contradictions in the human attitude and response toward climate change. This project will ensure that artistic production from both voyages will be visible at the next rounds of negotiation in two major political processes: the eight-nation Arctic Treaty, which will be chaired by the US in 2015, and the international UN climate negotiations, which will be held in Paris at the end of 2015.

Chicken & Egg Pictures Reel Reproductive Justice $30,000
Chicken & Egg Pictures (C&E, fiscal sponsor: Tides Center) is the only nonprofit film fund devoted to supporting female documentary filmmakers. C&E’s core mission is based around the belief that true change comes from not one, but multiple, good films put in the hands of dedicated, on-the-ground grassroots organizers and presented through many different platforms across several years. A grant in 2014 will support the REEL Reproductive Justice film cohort, a group of eight compelling films that tell character-driven stories of women, families, health care providers, policy makers, and communities grappling with the complicated lived experience of reproductive health, rights, and justice issues. These filmmakers have created narratives that bring attention to life and death issues, through intensely personal stories that are at once geographically specific and universal. C&E is using this cohort to test a model of engaging community groups and filmmakers in local film festivals to help activists better utilize film in their organizing efforts.

Cine Qua Non Young Lakota Engagement Campaign $25,000
Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt have been making documentaries about reproductive justice for two decades through their organization, Cine Qua Non. Their latest film, Young Lakota, follows three young adults on the Pine Ridge Reservation as they get swept up in the politics around Cecilia FireThunder’s efforts to keep abortion available in South Dakota during her controversial run as tribal president of the Oglala Sioux in 2006. The film's engagement campaign, reaching out to emerging leaders in order to strengthen and expand reproductive justice and its links to reproductive rights and health, positions reproductive justice as a cornerstone in building a more inclusive and democratic society. A 2014 grant will support a three-pronged strategy: building coalitions around local screenings with suggestions for local action; educational workshops led by and serving Native youth that focus on sexual health (through a partnership with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network); and online activism and youth-led work to reach marginalized and rural populations. Young Lakota uses a personal story to change the dialogue around abortion access to one about human rights.

HighWaterLine Project General Support $50,000
The participatory public art project HighWaterLine creates a moment of spectacle that sparks conversation, sharing, and learning about the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change. Artist Eve Mosher and environmental and creative communication consultant Heidi Quante have partnered to create HighWaterLine projects as innovative ways for communities to imagine the impacts of climate change and create regionally appropriate mitigations and adaptations. Collaborating with Miami residents to use art to open a conversation about mitigation and adaptation in 2013, they supported local residents who chalked the line of predicted sea level rise in the city for 26 miles, highlighting the areas that will be
 underwater. They also generated public engagement around building a climate resilient city by engaging community members in 
storytelling and solutions workshops that 
have resulted in a new organization called
 Resilient Miami, which is planning its own additional creative 
projects. With grant support in 2014, in addition to plans to reproduce the evolving project in Bristol (UK) and Philadelphia, Eve and Heidi will continue to build online tools, including a resource guide, that will support any community interested in doing a HighWaterLine project anywhere.

Magnum Foundation Leadership in Visual Storytelling $50,000
The Magnum Foundation (MF) supports in-depth, independent documentary photography as a means to foster empathy, engagement, and positive social change. It combines its deep archive of Magnum photographs and experience with innovative new media and advocacy to link visual storytelling to social and environmental change. Magnum Foundation’s Emergency Fund supports 10-15 passionate photographers working on under-reported issues related to social injustice each year. A 2014 grant will fund MF’s exploration of how to help documentary photographers tell visual stories that go beyond newspaper, magazine, and book publishing. MF continually seeks to identify new strategies for increased exposure of documentary photography in an ever-changing media landscape. In the coming year, MF will strive toward field-building, modeling new digital dissemination strategies for visual storytelling, encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between photographers and other media makers and technologists, and bringing photographers and community partners together to strengthen and diversify content and audiences.

Nevada Museum of Art 2014 Art + Environment Conference $15,000
The Art + Environment Conference, a triennial event hosted by the Nevada Museum of Art's Center for Art Environment, convenes international artists, scientists, scholars, designers, and writers to have multidisciplinary conversations and generate new ideas around contemporary art as a medium to translate and communicate environmental issues. A small 2104 grant to the conference will support a major venue for the practice and study of creative interactions between people and their surroundings, which is building the field of environmental art and a culture of sustainability in art and design. Notable projects inspired by previous conferences include Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley's Venue, a traveling interview project broadening the conversation about land, art, geography, science, and climate change; and "Collecting the Future," a workshop hosted by the American Museum of Natural History to address museums' role in dealing with climate change. The Center has also supported Elizabeth Farnsworth and Terry Evans' Fractured, a photography series on the North Dakota oil boom's effects on the prairie, which will be presented at this year's gathering.

Story of Stuff Project General Support $40,000
The Story of Stuff Project (fiscal sponsor: Tides Center), a cutting edge experimenter at the intersection of media and engagement, helps people understand and tackle the environmental and social challenges created by our obsession with stuff. A 2014 grant will support its next phase: empowering the half-million individuals in its online community to take collective, civic action on the issues they care about. The organization believes that a lack of grassroots energy stymies forward progress on a range of environmental and social justice issues, and that building that energy requires people to identify primarily as citizens, not as consumers. Using an online "Citizen Muscle Boot Camp" and its first campaigns, the Story of Stuff Project aims to grow a community of active and powerful changemakers capable of winning strategic campaigns for environmental sustainability and social equity in their own communities and beyond.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund $50,000
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit, cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater. The Institute is internationally recognized for hosting the annual Sundance Film Festival. Its Documentary Film Program (DFP), a core artist support program of the Institute, provides creative, editorial, and financial support to cinematic feature documentaries created by independent filmmakers from around the world. The DFP provides emerging and established filmmakers a year-round suite of opportunities including Creative Labs, Fellowships, and Residencies. DFP International creative partnerships and convenings increase resources and impact for the field in response to key global challenges. Three key values guide DFP’s work—Art: pushing the boundaries of storytelling; Reach: getting those stories out to diverse audiences; and Change: supporting a range of documentary impact from personal change to social change. A 2014 grant to the DFP will provide a resource for nonfiction filmmakers who are using the art of documentary to amplify issues, activate audiences, and accelerate change.

University of Arizona Foundation Make Way for Monarchs $10,000
A 2014 rapid response grant to Make Way for Monarchs (fiscal sponsor: University of Arizona Foundation) will support an unexpected opportunity to work with the White House Office of Science Policy to convene a collaborative stakeholder process between artists, crop associations, herbicide manufacturers, government regulators, and butterfly biologists, with the goal of halting and reversing the rapid decline of North American monarch populations. It aims
 to connect the various constituencies—farmers, highway 
roadside landscapers, citizen scientists, restoration 
ecologists, biologists, educators, naturalists, artists, writers, 
 and manufacturers—who will be needed to conserve 
butterflies and their nectar plants in North America.

Grantee Facts


Project Name:
YES! US Leadership Jams

Amount Granted: