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.

2019 Grants
Alonzo King LINES Ballet Convergence $10,000
Alonzo King LINES Ballet is a contemporary ballet company led by visionary choreographer and Artistic Director Alonzo King, whose work draws on diverse cultural traditions to expand classical ballet’s expressive potential. In Fall 2020, LINES Ballet will present “Convergence” (working title), a multidisciplinary collaboration that will weave together King’s acclaimed choreography, Inuit musical traditions, and stunning visual art to investigate how climate disruption is shifting our understanding of what it means to be interconnected in this global age. Harnessing the urgency of our collective moment, King and his collaborators will translate the abstract ideas and principles that underpin climate volatility into a richly embodied, visceral experience designed to shift the way we think about our relationship to one another and to the planet, and in turn, spark individual and collective action. A one-time grant will support the creation, production, and presentation of this work.

CultureStrike / Citizen Engagement Lab General Support $100,000/2 years
CultureStrike’s work is rooted in the belief that cultural shifts are necessary to build political will for a just society. Artists and cultural leaders inspire their communities to claim a better future, keep hope, feel joy, and inspire action. As society confronts the reality of global patterns of ecological destruction and climate disasters, 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. The second year of a two-year grant will support CultureStrike as it strengthens 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 lift up diverse narratives of impact, resistance, and resilience to build momentum for public action and policy change.

DocSociety General Support $50,000
DocSociety is a nonprofit committed to bringing people together to unleash the transformational power of documentary film. Since its founding in 2005, DocSociety has grown to a team of 25 people with offices in London, New York, and Amsterdam. DocSociety has one of the most experienced editorial teams in the world and in 14 years has backed over 300 award-winning projects from filmmakers in over 80 countries. DocSociety stands in solidarity with filmmakers and works to unite them with new friends and allies, building new models for film impact campaigns globally.

Fuller Project for International Reporting General Support $50,000
The Fuller Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization reporting globally and in the US on the issues that most impact women. Women are persistently underrepresented in news, especially coverage of war, security institutions and peace negotiations. The Fuller Project's reporting addresses this gap in coverage through investigative, explanatory, and solutions-driven reporting, which is published globally and locally in the world's leading news outlets.

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 tells 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 has also launched a new initiative to connect emerging leaders, spurring collaborations and sparking change. A three-year general support grant, now in its third year, is supporting Grist to advance this organizational transition and help chart the course to a just, sustainable future.

Just Vision General Support $100,000/2 years
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 team 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. The second year of a two-year grant 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.

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 third 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.

Movement Generation The North Pole Impact Campaign $10,000
In its groundbreaking first season, the comedy web series the North Pole introduced audiences to Nina, Marcus, Benny, and Finn, a group of trash-talking, revolutionary characters living in Oakland and grappling with the crises of gentrification and global warming. A second season will premiere this September, with its storyline going deep into issues of immigration, deportation, and Northern California wildfires. A one-time grant to executive producer and longtime grant partner Movement Generation will support impact and engagement activities around the second season of the film.,

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. Now in the second year of a two-year grant, NHM will continue 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.

Peace is Loud General Support $50,000
Peace is Loud uses storytelling to advance social justice movements, with a focus on women’s rights, peace, and security. Peace is Loud highlights the stories of women who are leading their communities in confronting violence, from acts of war to systemic injustices. They believe peace can only be achieved through representation that truly reflects the world we live in, whether during negotiations at the peace table, through the stories we consume, or in the social movements changing the world. For that reason, Peace is Loud’s programming shares the stories of those whose identities intersect with historically marginalized communities, including but not limited to people of color, Indigenous/native peoples, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, and immigrants. Its storytelling programming includes documentary film campaigns and a speakers’ bureau of 30 women human rights leaders.

Revolutions Per Minute General Support $100,000/2 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 second year of a two-year grant, RPM is scaling up its philanthropic program and providing strategic counsel and technical support to help artists make a difference.

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 third year, supports this vitally important resource to the fields of reproductive rights, health, and justice.

Storyline Media Water Warriors impact campaign $30,000
Water Warriors is an award-winning short film and multimedia exhibit about a community’s successful fight to protect their water and way of life. In 2013, Texas-based SWN Resources arrived in rural New Brunswick, Canada to explore for natural gas. The region is known for its forestry, farming and fishing industries, which are both commercial and subsistence operations that rural communities depend on. In response, a small group of unlikely warriors—including members of the Mi’kmaq Elsipogtog First Nation, French-speaking Acadians, and English-speaking families—set up a series of road blockades, preventing exploration. After months of resistance, their efforts not only halted drilling, they elected a new government and won an indefinite moratorium on fracking in the province. Water Warriors demonstrates that people, united, can win against insurmountable odds. A one-time grant will support work to harness this success as a catalyst for direct action and multicultural solidarity to protect natural resources.

Sundance Institute General Support for Documentary Film Program $50,000
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) supports non-fiction filmmakers worldwide in the creation of cinematic documentaries on contemporary issues. Led by Tabitha Jackson, the DFP supports filmmakers year-round through a granting fund, residential Labs, custom Fellowships, and strategic and creative mentorship. The DFP focuses on three guiding principles: investing not only in groundbreaking documentary projects but also in artists and the development of their craft; prioritizing under-reported stories and underrepresented voices; and supporting stories with the capacity for creating social and cultural change.

The League / New Venture Fund General Support $50,000
The League is a collective of social change strategists and culture makers working at the intersection of pop culture and politics. Its core team is made up of organizers, writers, designers, analysts, and campaigners who are deeply rooted in the progressive movement. The League designs and deploys creative, engaging strategies and campaigns in order to create tipping points that fundamentally shift communities to be more just and equitable. The League focuses on three lines of work: running experiments to identify the best ways to use culture to shift people’s attitudes and move them to action; tapping into sophisticated marketing, political, and cultural data, using it to unpack what’s currently happening in the world and to forecast what might happen; and creating spaces and connections so that people from a variety of experiences, backgrounds, and industries can work together to address the major issues facing the US today.

Unpack Impact / Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs Activating a Beloved Economy $40,000
Activating a Beloved Economy is sparking a mainstream conversation about how and why building an American economy that works for all will require us to come together across our differences and "co-create". Grounded in the research that co-directors Joanna Cea and Jess Rimington have led since 2015 on multi-stakeholder, co-creative processes that lead to economic transformation, this initiative turns these findings into story-driven, accessible content that inspires and equips for action. Through a book, multimedia content, a national "listening tour," and more, Activating a Beloved Economy lifts up the stories of everyday people who have come together to co-create boldly different economic realities for their communities, ones that are bringing more joy, balance and prosperity. The aim of this 2-year initiative is to activate people across the US to co-create the new economic realities we long for and urgently need, in a way that passes a tipping point of change.

US Department of Arts and Culture / NEO Philanthropy General Support $80,000/2 years
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. In the second year of its two-year grant, 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 invites 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.

Women's Foundation of California Culture Change Collaborative Fund $50,000
The Women's Foundation of California (WFC) sits at a unique and powerful nexus — investing grant dollars to support multi-issue movement building, training community leaders in public policy advocacy, and connecting key stakeholders across issues and sectors. Since 1979, WFC's program strategy has been rooted in a feminist, intersectional, multi-issue movement-building approach that recognizes the value of leaders coming together from a range of social justice movements to build deeper coalitions and support each other’s policy and movement agendas. The Culture Change Collaborative Fund will be a learning community of practice that will explore investments in field level research and deliver an evidence-based, community-generated narrative. It will build the connection and capacity of movement leaders and culture makers to coordinate efforts.