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.

2018 Grants
Magnum Foundation General Support $150,000/3 years
Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography through programs that provide grant funds, mentorship, and innovative training to a network of social justice and human rights-focused photographers working within their own communities around the world. The Magnum Foundation's work is grounded in the belief that images are a powerful tool for engaging new audiences with important issues and ideas. Now in the second year of a three-year grant, Magnum Foundation and its network will continue to experiment with new ways to use images to transform how we see and understand the world.

Natural History Museum / Not an Alternative General Support $100,000/2 years
The Natural History Museum (NHM) unleashes the power of museums and science centers to expand the public consensus for ecological development, inspire new solutions and leaders, and strengthen community-led efforts to save water, land, and the climate. As both a traveling museum and an institution-transformation project, the NHM builds collaborations with Indigenous water and land protectors, local activist groups, scientists, artists, museums, and educational centers to produce exhibitions, events, storytelling, and online media that address current environmental issues. A new two-year grant will support NHM's efforts to organize museum and science professionals to resist the influence of fossil fuel industries on cultural, public, and political institutions and help them to develop public engagement programs that support environmental justice. NHM is a project of Not an Alternative, a nonprofit arts and activism collective that uses cultural organizing to help build a more sustainable, just society.

Rewire General Support $150,000/3 years
Rewire is a daily online publication that fosters public knowledge and engagement through high-quality, evidence-based news, analysis, commentary, and investigative reporting on issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. Rewire works to disrupt misleading media and political narratives; promote accurate reporting on its core issues across online, print, and broadcast media; and dispel falsehoods and misinformation spread by those who seek political gain from undermining public health and human rights or misrepresenting evidence. An ongoing three-year grant, now in its second year, supports this vitally important resource to the fields of reproductive rights, health, and justice.

2017 Grants
Antonia Juhasz / Society for Environmental Journalists (Un)Covering Oil $40,000
(Un)Covering Oil is a project by Antonia Juhasz, an award-winning energy writer and independent investigative journalist specializing in frontline reporting on the oil industry. Her writing appears regularly in a variety of publications, including Harper’s Magazine, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, the Atlantic, The Nation, Ms., The Advocate,, Pacific Standard, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a contributing author to seven books and the sole author of three. Her investigations have taken her from a mile below the ocean surface in the Gulf of Mexico to the rainforests of the Ecuadoran Amazon, from the deserts of Afghanistan to the fracking fields of North Dakota, and to the tip of the Alaskan Arctic. A 2017 grant to (Un)Covering Oil will support Juhasz in investigating and telling the stories of those most impacting—and impacted by—oil's use.

Arctic Cycle General Support $20,000
The Arctic Cycle uses theatre to foster dialogue about the global climate crisis, create an empowering vision of the future, and inspire people to take action. Operating on the principle that complex problems must be addressed through collaborative efforts, it works with artists across disciplines and geographic borders, solicits input from earth and social scientists, and connects with community and educational partners. Through the Artists & Climate Change blog, the international Climate Change Theatre Action festival, an artist incubator, and the cycle of original plays that first launched the project, the Arctic Cycle holds spaces for reflection and conversation, advocates for inclusion of the arts in global conversations, and provides tools to artists and non-artists to engage with climate change. A renewal grant from Compton will support the Arctic Cycle’s ongoing initiatives.

Asia Society Coal + Ice $40,000
In the spring of 2018, the Asia Society plans to convene a month-long cultural festival in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, in order to rally a broad array of prominent cultural, environmental, business, and political figures to call attention to the perils of leaving global climate change unaddressed and to share their vision of a path forward. The forum will include the US premiere of Coal + Ice, a documentary photography and multimedia exhibition featuring the work of 32 photographers from around the world. The exhibition follows the odyssey of carbon emissions from deep within coalmines to the melting glaciers of the greater Himalayas, revealing their profound interconnectedness. A 2017 grant to the Asia Society will help to launch the planning for the exhibition and festival.

BRITDOC Untitled Mary Robinson podcast series $50,000
Compton 2017 support to BRITDOC will provide seed funding for a podcast series around climate change with former president of Ireland Mary Robinson. Tapping into Robinson’s expertise, archives, and professional networks, the BRITDOC team will help create and distribute podcasts that aim to engage the English-speaking global public around climate advocacy and action. The series will focus on the resilience and inventiveness of the people already most affected by climate change rather than on climate science.

Chicken & Egg Pictures General Support $60,000/2 years
Chicken & Egg Pictures supports women nonfiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change. Its vision is a world in which female filmmakers, representing a range of experiences and backgrounds, are fully supported to realize their artistic goals, build sustainable careers, and achieve parity in all areas of the film industry. Since 2005, Chicken & Egg has given over $5.2 million in grants and thousands of hours of mentorship to more than 220 film projects. Films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have won major awards, pushed creative and social boundaries, and worked side by side with grassroots movements to effect changes in public policies and community practices. A two-year grant to Chicken & Egg Pictures will support this important infrastructure for the documentary field.

Corruption Watch / Sustainable Markets Foundation Impact Campaign for “Shadow World” $40,000
“Shadow World” is a feature documentary that reveals how the global arms trade systemically undermines democracy, exacerbates corruption, and promotes militarism and conflict over diplomacy. Based on Andrew Feinstein’s acclaimed book of the same name, the film has been shown in over 25 countries, at the United Nations, and at the International Anti-Corruption Conference. Funding from the Compton Foundation will launch a US impact campaign, which will take the film to communities and seats of power around the country, including media organizations, universities, high schools, and community venues. The screenings will be followed by interactive workshops to facilitate meaningful dialogue around national security and defense, the role of the US in the global arms trade, and how we might promote peace over conflict.

Creative Catalysts Illuminating New Narratives of Climate Change Resiliency in the US $10,000
A rapid-response grant to Creative Catalysts will seed a new project that aims to shift the story of the climate change from primarily a “middle to upper white class issue” to an issue already impacting diverse populations. In partnership with Nicole Hammer Hernandez, a longtime social justice and climate resiliency organizer in Florida, Creative Catalysts will bring story-based organizing training to nontraditional spokespeople who are passionate about helping their communities become more resilient to climate change, including women scientists, mothers, community organizers, and people of color, with the ultimate goal of supporting those currently affected by the changing climate to speak in their own voices about that experience and to spread new, culturally relevant narratives about climate advocacy and resilience.

CultureStrike General Support $50,000
CultureStrike believes that changes in culture are necessary to build political will for a just society. Artists and cultural leaders inspire their communities to imagine and then claim a better future, keep up hope, feel joy, and act. As global patterns of ecological destruction and climate disasters become more apparent, driven by corporate control and increasingly sanctioned by government policy, CultureStrike brings cultural strategy to address the direct and disproportionate impacts of climate disruption on migrants and communities of color. A general support grant will help CultureStrike to strengthen climate justice advocacy by leading with the storytelling of artists from these backgrounds, who can connect with communities at the frontlines of climate change, and to lift up diverse narratives of impact, resistance, and resilience to build momentum for public action and policy change.

DOCSOCIETY (f.k.a. BRITDOC) General Support $50,000
Founded in 2005, DOCSOCIETY (formerly known as BRITDOC) is a non-profit committed to enabling great documentary films and connecting them to audiences globally. Based in London and New York, it works with filmmakers and partners all over the world, befriending great filmmakers, supporting great films, brokering new partnerships, building new business models, sharing knowledge, and developing audiences globally. DOCSOCIETY believes that documentaries enrich the lives of individuals, and have a unique ability to engage and connect people, transform communities, and improve societies. A renewal grant will support DOCSOCIETY’s ongoing efforts to bring those powerful documentaries beyond the usual audiences, particularly through its Good Pitch Local program, working with film organizations on six continents to host local events to forge locally relevant impact partnerships.

Grist Magazine General Support $150,000/3 years
Our big planetary problems can seem insurmountable. The world keeps warming and the most vulnerable populations continue to bear the brunt of it. Grist sees a better way forward, envisioning a world full of resilient, healthy communities, powered by 100-percent clean energy. To realize this vision, the digital magazine is revamping its focus and talent around three themes: solutions, equity, and empowerment. Grist will tell stories that persuade millions of people that a brighter future is possible, reveal what it takes to get there, and empower everyone from activists to policymakers to entrepreneurs to contribute. It will also launch a new initiative to connect emerging leaders, spurring collaborations and sparking change. A new three-year general support grant will allow Grist to advance this organizational transition and help chart the course to a just, sustainable future.

Harvard Divinity School Terry Tempest Williams, Writer-in-Residence for Academic Year 2017-2018 $50,000
A 2017 grant to the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) will support Terry Tempest Williams’ work and classroom teaching during her time as a writer-in-residence in the 2017-2018 academic year. The author, conservationist, and activist will engage with the HDS community by delivering guest lectures, participating in seminars and panel discussions, and teaching a new iteration of her previous art/environment class at the University of Utah, “Reading the Book Cliffs.” Her work has brought national and international attention to the way in which environmental issues are connected to issues of justice. Her insights, experience as a leader in the environmental movement, and storytelling will enrich the HDS community’s work to connect theological reflection to engaged action.

International Center for Photography Perpetual Revolution: the Image and Social Change $30,000
A one-time grant in 2017 will support the International Center of Photography’s latest exhibition, “Perpetual Revolution: the Image and Social Change,” which explores the relationship between the often-overwhelming barrage of digital images that we see everyday, and the volatile, provocative, and often-violent world they mirror. This exhibition proposes that new digital methods of image production, display, and distribution are critically impacting social change—both for good and for ill—and presents six case studies of critical issues transformed by visual culture: the refugee crisis, #BlackLivesMatter, climate change, gender fluidity, terrorist propaganda, and the 2016 presidential election and the right-wing fringe.

Just Vision General Support $50,000
The popular narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian context paints the conflict as intractable. While highlighting ongoing violence and top-down political developments, it 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. The organization uses 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 from the Compton Foundation will help Just Vision 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.

Kiss Me I’m Polish, LLC / Fractured Atlas Art Making Change $25,000
During a political moment when there is heightened interest in and need for the work of socially engaged artists, Art Making Change provides a platform to strengthen the field. The project begins with a baseline map of socially engaged artistic practice generated by the prominent research team Helicon Collaborative. Helicon’s report offers clarifying language about the range of socially engaged art strategies, and surfaces some of the conditions required for change-seeking art to succeed. The next phase of Art Making Change will include a series of essays responding to Helicon’s findings, and a series of convenings to facilitate deeper learning among artists, funders, and community partners. A grant to Kiss Me I’m Polish will support the award-winning design firm to create the digital platforms through which the field can directly engage with all of this content, allowing socially engaged artists themselves to be the drivers of new knowledge in this field.

Lady Parts Justice League / New Venture Fund General Support $50,000
Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL) is a team of comedians, cultural influencers, creatives, activists, and volunteers that uses pop culture, online media, humor, and outrage to expose the powerful anti-choice movement, destigmatize abortion, and engage new advocates for reproductive rights across the country. Founded in 2015 by Lizz Winstead, a co-creator of The Daily Show, LPJL also travels the U.S. to bring care, comfort, and tangible support directly to clinics providing abortion care.

Liz Manne Strategy Cultural Strategy Learning Convening $10,000
There is a clear and growing need for greater understanding of culture change among funders of reproductive justice and health access. To begin this process, Liz Manne and Erin Potts, both prominent cultural strategists, will convene a cohort of funders in New Orleans in early 2018 for shared learning about storytelling, cultural organizing, and theories of change relating to story and culture. A rapid response grant from the Compton Foundation will go toward planning and meeting costs.

Liz Manne Strategy / Revolutions Per Minute Storytelling Learning Project $10,000
Cultural strategy practitioners Liz Manne and Erin Potts work to help advocacy organizations use pop culture in ways that can inform strategy and reach new audiences. A 2017 seed grant will allow them to convene groups of grassroots advocates, cultural workers, and tech and design experts in New York and San Francisco to think through the most effective uses of cultural activism at this political moment, and to start teasing out the possible links among storytelling, branding, marketing, and advocacy that could best serve today's justice movements.

Magnum Foundation General Support $150,000/3 years
Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography through programs that provide grant funds, mentorship, and innovative training to a network of social justice and human rights-focused photographers working within their own communities around the world. The Magnum Foundation’s work is grounded in the belief that images are a powerful tool for engaging new audiences with important issues and ideas. A new three-year grant will support the organization and its network to continue to experiment with new ways to use images to transform how we see and understand the world.

Mother Jones Drums of War: a Mother Jones Investigation $50,000
America is at greater risk of ending up in a disastrous military involvement than it has been in a generation. At a time when American newsrooms are being eviscerated, Mother Jones is expanding its team of journalists focused on national security and the threat of war. Its veteran investigative journalists are alert to the dangers of misinformation, distortion, and fake news that can lead our country into conflict. With a Compton Foundation grant, Mother Jones will deploy reporters, editors, documentary filmmakers, fact-checkers and its online team to find stories no one else is covering: the intersection of cybersecurity, intelligence and war; the connections between belligerent rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies; and the interplay of deception, propaganda, and military buildup.

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Yo Te Apoyo/I Support You Campaign $50,000
While polling has found that the majority of Latinas and Latinos are supportive of abortion rights, continuing misconceptions about and within the community shroud abortion experiences in stigma and shame. In response, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) will craft, launch, and promote its “Yo Te Apoyo/I Support You” media campaign. Using a personal storytelling framework, the campaign will lift up the ways in which family and friends stand beside, accept and respect the choice their loved one has made around abortion, normalizing an approach of love and support. A Compton grant will support a pilot run in Florida, in preparation for a national launch in 2018.

Natural History Museum / Not An Alternative General Support $50,000
The Natural History Museum (NHM) highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums. It aims to inspire established science and natural history museums to champion climate action, and equips museum visitors with the stories and tools they need to understand the rapidly changing world and to shape it for the common good. Deploying both inside and outside engagement strategies, NHM collaborates with scientists, museum employees and professional associations, community groups, artists, and others to create new narratives about our shared natural history that educate, measurably influence public opinion, and inspire collective action. A 2017 Compton grant will support the Natural History Museum to develop, curate, and place new exhibits about fossil fuel extraction, climate science, and indigenous resistance in museums across the country.

New America Media (Pacific News Service) Ethnic Media Newsbeat for Climate Change Resilience, Year 2 $50,000
A support grant to New America Media (NAM) will fund the second year of its Ethnic Media Newsbeat for Climate Change Resilience, a cross-cultural journalism project that works to build the capacity of the ethnic media sector to report on climate change in coastal cities across the United States. Through NAM's fellowship program, a cohort of ethnic media journalists in each city reports on issues related to climate impacts on ethnic communities, including profiling emerging climate justice leaders. After a climate reporting training, reporters investigate how their communities are being impacted by and adapting to climate change, and lift up stories of local resiliency and leadership. Print and multimedia reporting, paired with maps overlaying sea rise with social vulnerability, is grounded in neighborhood-level storytelling to link the often abstract issue of climate change with the issues affecting of communities of color. Stories are shared with a wide audience through publishing across New America Media's national media network in addition to being shared through the reporters' media outlets.

PEN America National Mobilization of Writers in Defense of Free Expression $30,000
PEN America champions free expression and the power of the written word. It is the largest of the more than 100 PEN International centers around the world, all of which work to ensure that people have the right to create literature and share ideas. With support from Compton, PEN America will target regions across the country where pockets of PEN members exist and have indicated interest in providing meaningful outreach into their communities. A grant will allow PEN America to provide education and resources for these “chapters,” galvanizing its members to become free expression advocates in their communities. By mobilizing respected members to host and engage in civil political discourse, free expression can be discussed in a neutral and empowering manner in language that will resonate with the audience, leading to action to support free expression in the months and years to come.

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 REM, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys, RPM provides the more than 1000 performers in its network with the ongoing support and resources they need to apply their talents as storytellers to 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 third year of a three-year grant, RPM is scaling up its philanthropic program and providing strategic counsel and technical support to help artists build their skills as leaders and make a difference on the causes they care most about.

Rewire General Support $150,000/3 years
Rewire is a daily online publication that fosters public knowledge and engagement through high-quality, evidence-based news, analysis, commentary, and investigative reporting on issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. Rewire works to disrupt misleading media and political narratives; promote accurate reporting on its core issues across online, print, and broadcast media; and dispel falsehoods and misinformation spread by those who seek political gain from undermining public health and human rights or misrepresenting evidence. A new three-year grant will support this vitally important resource to the fields of reproductive rights, health, and justice.

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. In March of 2018, Split This Rock will celebrate the long-awaited publication of Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology with a series of programs, including a book tour that brings together community activists, poets, and artists for workshops, dialogue, activism, and youth engagement. A renewal grant from Compton to the Eco-Justice Poetry Project will support the activities surrounding Ghost Fishing, and the integration of environmental justice themes into Split This Rock’s other programs.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program General Support $50,000
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) supports non-fiction filmmakers worldwide in the creation of cinematic documentaries on contemporary issues. The DFP provides this support through a granting fund, residency Labs, custom Fellowships, and strategic mentorship throughout the process of bringing a documentary to life, from development and production through post-production and audience engagement. The DFP focuses on three guiding principles: art, investing not only in groundbreaking documentary projects, but also in artists; reach, prioritizing under-reported stories and under-represented voices; and change, supporting stories that have the capacity for creating social and cultural change. A general support grant will provide important capacity for experimentation.

the bomb / Women Make Movies General Support $20,000
the bomb is a film and music experience that presents the reality of nuclear weapons with visceral immediacy. the bomb explores the immense power of nuclear weapons, the perverse appeal they have, and the profound death wish at their very heart. The 61-minute film takes its audience through the strange, compelling, and unsettling reality of nuclear weapons today. the bomb premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, opened the Berlin Film Festival, and is currently on the film festival circuit. A renewal grant will support the team to adapt the film to new formats, including Netflix streaming and a museum version of the experience that can travel to institutions and universities.

US Department of Arts and Culture / Prime Produce Ltd. 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, it supports individuals in leading arts-infused civic dialogues and changemaking initiatives, connecting them to training, resources, and one another. Nationally, it amplifies their impact through large-scale actions and calls for creative response, building momentum for positive social change and democratic cultural policy. With a renewal grant from Compton this year, the USDAC will continue to train artists and activists to lead culture shift in their communities, and to engage individuals and groups across the US in storytelling that illuminates the state of our union and 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 nourishing the artist in us all.

Warscapes ‘Mediterranean: Reflections on the Refugee Crisis’ $5,000
Mediterranean is a unique print collection of poetry, literature, reportage, and visual art reflecting on the ongoing refugee crisis from the editors of Warscapes, a nonprofit online magazine. The anthology includes short, lyrical pieces from award-winning novelists Edwidge Danticat, Boubacar Boris Diop, Chika Unigwe, and Maaza Mengiste, among others; long-form reportage and photographs from Somali journalist and novelist Hassan Ghedi Santur, from time spent along the migration trail; artwork from Italian photographer Mario Badagliacca’s “Frammenti,” which examines objects taken from migrants and refugees before they are taken to detention centers; poetry from Palestinian poet and MSF Humanitarian Advisor Jehan Bseiso and Somali poet and scholar Ali Jimale Ahmed; and recipes, which emphasize the centrality of food to the refugee experience. The book will also include a syllabus for further exploration into the refugee crisis. A small 2017 grant will support the final design

Grantee Facts

Latino Community Fund of Washington State

Project Name:
Communities of Color Climate Action Campaign

Amount Granted: