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
Aaron Davidman Performance Project Wrestling Jerusalem $40,000
A grant to Wrestling Jerusalem will support completion of a feature film that follows one man's journey to understand the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Written by and starring Aaron Davidman, and based on his acclaimed one-man play, the film is an investigation of the intersection of politics, identity, cultural narrative, and spiritual yearning. An old proverb says: “An enemy is someone whose story we do not know.” Giving voice to more than a dozen different characters, Davidman asks audiences to hold a multi-dimensional picture of the history, spirit, and humanity of this conflict. Once the film is completed, he and director Dylan Kussman will partner with the New Israel Fund to support community dialogues that use the film to open conversations and promote a different narrative about the situation in the Middle East—not necessarily one of a clear path to peace, but one that opens the possibility of compassion for the other and for reconciliation and transformation.

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.

BRITDOC Impact Award Project $40,000
BRITDOC works globally with storytellers in documentary films, providing them with direct funding, networks, and strategy. With a core belief in the power of film to change the way people, governments, and corporations behave, BRITDOC's annual Impact Award celebrates the documentary films that have made the most significant positive impact on society. Following a global call for entries, films are assessed by an independent Peer Review Committee made up of documentary and social change experts from around the world, evaluating how each film has created increased awareness of an issue and produced changes in attitude and behavior. The reviewers consider the impact of the film in its relevant social or political spheres and geographic scope, and the extent to which the film campaign increased the capacity of other organizations working in the same field. Now in its fourth year, the Impact Award draws global press attention to the filmmakers and issues presented, serving as a showcase for what impact is possible for documentary film.

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.

Capital Institute Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy $50,000
The Capital Institute’s Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy enlists the power of storytelling to spark activism around the evolving vision of Regenerative Capitalism, and to ground that vision, through observation, in real-world practice. Its earliest stories featured grassroots projects; this year it will be exploring regenerative capitalism at work in larger corporations and projects. A Compton grant will help support the Field Guide’s new microsite, which features over 20 graphically and digitally enhanced stories of exemplary projects and enterprises that operate from a holistic value perspective, restoring what the extractive economy has damaged.

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.

Climate Desk General Support $40,000
As the climate crisis grows to an extent that would not have been predicted even two years ago, American journalism is failing to tell the story. Climate Desk (fiscal sponsor: Mother Jones) is a first-of-its-kind partnership, initiated in 2009, to fill the journalism gap left by reduced coverage of climate change by other media outlets. As a journalistic collaboration among Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Grist, Slate, Wired, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, Climate Desk has the potential to reach upwards of 180 million readers. In addition to producing and sharing its own written content, the project also hosts Climate Desk Live, a public events series that has been presented to sold-out audiences around North America and produces the weekly podcast “Inquiring Minds.”

Corporate Accountability International Real Food Media Project $40,000
Founded and directed by Anna Lappé, the Real Food Media Project is a collaborative initiative using storytelling and grassroots events to strengthen and grow the movement for sustainable food and farming. The Project draws on its extensive networks and an influential range of organizations engaged in advancing sustainable food systems to coordinate outreach and move the compelling media it produces and curates. Last year, the Project piloted a highly successful short film contest, generating powerful stories from 19 countries. A 2014 grant will support the Real Food Media Contest's second year, as well as dissemination of the stories it collected with the creation of community "Pop-Up" film festivals to showcase last year's ten winners and a Film Library to share finalists' films online. Other initiatives for the coming year include micro-grantmaking to grassroots groups; distributing its own "Food Mythbusters" educational films and materials; and a multimedia storytelling initiative sharing the experiences of workers along the food chain in partnership with the Lexicon of Sustainability, StoryCorps, and the Food Chain Workers' Alliance.

CultureStrike! CultureStrike Climate Program: New Collaborations in the Art of Eco-Activism $50,000
Effects of ecological destruction—from pollution to food shortages to weather disasters—often cause displacement, and hit hardest for communities of color and low-income people. CultureStrike (fiscal sponsor: Citizen Engagement Laboratory Education Fund) believes that artworks and cultural strategies rooted in this truth can help advocates disarm opponents and fuel new urgencies and solutions. In order to do so, CultureStrike integrates artists of color and creatives from migrant backgrounds as storytellers, stakeholders, and cross-movement diplomats. With this grant, CultureStrike will enable artists to engage in climate advocacy by organizing visits to affected communities, sharing information, and sparking collaborative projects; help environmental justice organizations develop cultural organizing strategies by providing trainings and connections to artists; and generate art that expands the imagination and motivates change. This art will be exhibited and used in coordination with key movement moments, including the September 2014 UN Climate Summit.

Exhale General Support $40,000
Exhale is a community of women and men with personal abortion experiences. It has provided thousands of people with after-abortion, non-judgmental, emotional support through its national, multilingual, post-abortion talkline. Exhale works to foster constructive dialogue based in personal experience. A general support grant will fund its work to catalyze pro-voice ideas and projects and to shape conversations about personal abortion experiences in families, communities, organizations, the media, and entertainment. Exhale is the largest post-abortion referral of health providers nationwide, and it has moved pro-voice stories into the mainstream media through outlets including The New York Times, NPR, CNN Headline News, Ladies Home Journal, and Glamour Magazine. For over 12 years, Exhale has had a direct line to the voices of women who have had abortions, and now it is at the forefront of a movement to bring those voices front and center in public.

Game Changer Chicago Design Lab / Ci3/ University of Chicago A Day in the Life $30,000
The Game Changer Chicago Design Lab is an initiative of the University of Chicago’s Ci3 Center. The interdisciplinary center uses experimental methods to develop and research evidence-based interventions. Ci3 employs narrative as a primary component of its work to elevate the voices of underserved communities, reduce disparities, and promote social and reproductive justice. With a special focus on urban youth of color, the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab is a signature initiative that focuses on storytelling and game design to advance social and emotional learning, promote critical thinking and dialogue, and improve reproductive and overall health. Last year, a Compton grant funded the creation of a prototype roleplaying video game, “A Day in the Life,” which simulates the world of a high school student to build “soft skills” like empathy, self-reflection, and clarity in communication around sexual and reproductive health. A completion grant in 2014 will allow Ci3 to refine the game through its final iterations, and to collaborate with partners to disseminate and showcase it, helping to ensure it reaches a broad youth audience.

Grist Magazine General Support $50,000
An independent, irreverent, online media platform that engages diverse readers, Grist has earned a reputation as an indispensable source of environmental stories and inspiration for a monthly audience of 2,000,000 and growing. It depicts a new kind of sustainability—rooted in a better future for all—and gives readers the tools they need to help make change. A Compton grant will help to sustain Grist as it uses its compelling voice to integrate stories about various subgroups of the environmental movement and its partners in social change, including climate, food and agriculture, conservation and wilderness protection, transportation, urban development, sustainable production and consumption, as well as economic justice, reproductive rights and justice, and public health. Based in Seattle with a staff of 30, Grist uses storytelling to show how green is reshaping the world and empowers a new generation to make change.

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.

Just Vision General Support $40,000
The popular narrative about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict leaves little room for nuance. It is primarily focused on the intractable nature of the conflict and continuing violent actions. In reality, however, there are many in the region who are engaged in efforts to foster peace and end the occupation. Just Vision lifts up those stories and shines a spotlight on the potential of these leaders to build a future of freedom, dignity, equality, and human security through nonviolent means. Just Vision uses powerful storytelling strategies including film, graphic novels, personal narratives, and photography to create space for dialogue. Its overarching goal is to contribute to fostering peace by rendering Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders more visible, valued, and effective in their efforts. Support from Compton will help the organization drive attention to compelling local role models in unarmed movement-building and demonstrate to journalists, community leaders, public intellectuals, and students—in the US, Israel, Palestine and beyond—what is possible when leaders at the grassroots choose to act.

Lexicon of Sustainability General Support $30,000
The Lexicon of Sustainability (fiscal sponsor: Worldlink Foundation) is a taxonomy project that defines solution-oriented words and ideas through captivating, art-based programming. Lexicon first created large-scale “information artworks” to frame conversations about the key aspects of a sustainable food system; a grant from Compton will support the organization in distributing that work, sharing its methodology, and initiating a second round of art focused on water, climate, and energy. Lexicon curates cultural change around sustainability through tools that include information artworks, street art, short films, podcasts, and social media infographics. Programming and community organizing around those tools include grassroots, “pop up” art shows, film festivals, contests, and an interactive new website and online community (launching fall of 2014).

Littleglobe COAL: The Musical $30,000
Littleglobe’s work in progress, “COAL: The Musical,” aims to energize the environmental movement through a scale-able, mythical, upbeat, musical fable and a grassroots engagement process for creative local action on climate change. With this grant, the Littleglobe team will premiere a range of formats of the score and script, launch two full-scale theatrical premieres in New Mexico and San Francisco, and support productions along Western fossil fuel export routes. In its many forms, COAL has three priority strategic goals that it hopes will drive broad and effective climate engagement: using story to inspire a personal connection between audience members and the issue of climate change, providing audiences with an understanding the basics of fossil fuels and clean energy, and helping participants feel part of a larger community of people creating local climate solutions.

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.

NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation SpeakFreely $30,000
Even in progressive circles, the cultural discourse about abortion access and reproductive freedom is often superficial or nonexistent. The ability to make changes in the policy arena that meet women's real needs will be severely curtailed until the cultural conversation changes. NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation and the fast-growing media company Upworthy are partnering to create an experimental reproductive freedom dedicated website called “SpeakFreely” that will help shift the discourse and increase support for pro-choice issues in the US. With Upworthy's 55 million unique viewers a month, NARAL hopes to amplify socially relevant content that will prompt a new audience to learn about and engage with these topics. With support from Compton, NARAL and Upworthy will design, test, and establish the initiative, helping to break down the stigma of abortion access and reproductive rights by encouraging people to speak up and speak out.

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.

Peace is Loud General Support $25,000
Peace is Loud is dedicated to generating a groundswell of people committed to building a culture of peace. By spotlighting the frontline leadership of women peacebuilders worldwide, it provides a counter-narrative to the consistent stories of conflict and war. Peace is Loud has worked with partner organizations to engage audiences around the highly successful “Women, War, and Peace” film series, and has launched a speakers’ bureau that contracts engagements for international women peacemakers. New initiatives over this grant period will include the completion of and audience engagement around the new film “Awakening,” which focuses on the experiences of five women from Egypt and Tunisia who have been part of the Arab uprisings. These strong, deeply personal stories of people working for peace help to interrupt current culture, provoke thought, and show that peace is possible.

Provide My Home, My Voice Fellowship $45,000
The challenges faced by rural women in accessing a full range of reproductive health care, including referrals for abortion, are unique and distressing. Provide is dedicated to addressing these challenges through programs that focus on training and support for rural primary care doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing assistants. Rural women are often invoked but rarely heard from, in discussions of reproductive healthcare. A 2015 grant for the 'My Home, My Voice' Fellowship will cultivate new rural leadership, supporting women to give voice to the experience of accessing reproductive healthcare in their rural communities. The fellowship aims to support rural women to engage in and shape reproductive movement work by speaking about their own health access experiences, and to establish rural women as important leaders in discussions of reproductive healthcare.

Split This Rock Eco-Justice Poetry Project $15,000
Split This Rock started in 2008 with a gathering of poets committed to peace in the midst of the Iraq war. A grant this year will help the organization expand its work in environmental justice and climate change with a new anthology, a book tour to communities facing environmental injustice, and an environmental focus for its 2016 poetry festival. The Eco-Justice Poetry Project centers on Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, slated for publication in 2016 and edited by Split This Rock co-founder Melissa Tuckey. The two-year project involves collaboration among Split This Rock, Poetry magazine, and the Poetry Foundation, as well as outreach and networking with poetry and activist organizations. The project aims to amplify the voices of poets writing socially engaged nature poems and to use Ghost Fishing as an organizing tool to bring together activists and poets. Split This Rock will collaborate with environmental groups to organize a speaking tour and to connect anthology poets with community activists engaged in frontline environmental justice work.

Steps International Storyville Global $50,000
Documentary film is a powerful way to educate people and inspire action, and there are hundreds of excellent films that need and deserve a broader audience. But in many parts of the world, especially the global South, broadcasters lack the funding to show documentaries. To fill that need, Storyville Global will work with a partnership of broadcasters, funders, and filmmakers to make available to audiences everywhere documentaries already on the market, allowing broadcasters to show the films for a fee based on their ability to pay. A seed grant from Compton will help Storyville Global build institutional support for the project and grow its audience around the world, creating long-term global impact and new distribution channels for brilliant films.
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.

Sustainable Markets Foundation This Changes Everything $50,000
“This Changes Everything” is a multi-platform project by writer Naomi Klein and filmmaker Avi Lewis that will demonstrate why the changes we need to avert climate chaos are our best chance to build a more equitable, livable and healthy society. Climate change offers a chance to solve the ecological and economic crises simultaneously: we can avert ecological chaos by changing an economic model already in need of serious transformation. In conjunction with movement convenings, popular education, and a multimedia website, the book and film will provide educators, activists, and media with a radical new framework through which to debate and understand the climate crisis, while supporting increased collaboration between economic and environmental justice movements.
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.

Washington Progress Fund Washington Heroes' Narrative $50,000
The Heroes' Narrative helps communicators tell a common story to build power across issues. Beyond messages and talking points, the Narrative teaches issue campaigns to tell meaningful, authentic, and compelling stories. It uses tested language that moves today's voters, and trains people to elevate real-life heroes and villains, describe an epic quest, and highlight a threat to something beloved. Allies like Planned Parenthood and Climate Solutions have been successful using this framework, and over 2,000 people have been trained nationally. Having recently expanded and updated the Heroes' Handbook, a 2014 grant will support deep implementation in Washington state and replication around the country.

Grantee Facts


Project Name:
Reproductive Justice Program

Amount Granted: