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.

2020 Grants
ACRONYM / Hopewell Fund “Dress Rehearsal” 'Dress Rehearsal' $10,000
DRESS REHEARSAL, a new documentary short from director David Modigliani, tells the messy, inspiring story of Wisconsin’s pandemic primary. When the coronavirus struck Wisconsin weeks before the primary, organizers on the ground had their best-laid canvassing plans turned upside down. As they figured out how to work remotely, an inclusive group of progressive organizers across the state embraced a wholesale pivot to online relational organizing and deepened relationships with voters in order to withstand the uncertain, rapidly changing environment. A grant will support the final touches and launch of the film short.
Center for Cultural Power General Support $225,000/3 years
A women-of-color, artist-led organization, The Center for Cultural Power (a merger of CultureStrike, Citizen Engagement Lab, and Revolutions Per Minute) inspires artists and culture makers to imagine a world where power is distributed equitably and we live in harmony with nature. Culture moves fast and can create the groundwork for shifts in the political and economic sectors. CCP focuses its efforts on creating a seismic cultural change to shift from a worldview of domination to one of interdependence and collaboration, which will transform economic and political structures. It anchors an ecosystem for artists and culture makers to thrive, with a particular focus on "Artist Disruptors." The Center for Cultural Power serves artists of color, immigrant and undocumented artists, disabled artists, queer and transgender artists, indigenous artists, and women artists from a belief that these are the artists who can shift the status quo with their stories, voices, and lived experiences.

Doc Society General Support $150,000/3 years
Doc Society is a nonprofit committed to enabling great documentary films and connecting them to audiences globally. With offices in London, New York, Amsterdam, and Sydney, Doc Society has grown to a team of 19 people. Its mission is to bring people together to unleash the transformational power of independent documentary film. Doc Society supports artist-driven film with social purpose and helps to create a more connected and sustainable media ecosystem globally. It helps build new models, aiming to innovate, share its learnings freely, and innovate again. Today Doc Society works with filmmakers and journalists in over 37 countries, while helping build the capacity of a network of peer cultural organizations from across the world.

DocSociety New Rules of Impact $15,000
Documentary film impact campaigns have always had screenings at their center, whether gathering experts and partners together for a screening and strategy conversation, organizing screenings and panels at large conferences or as part of film festivals, or coordinating grass roots community screenings held by local organizers. COVID-19 means that right now such gatherings are impossible in most countries in the world, and when they reopen it is unlikely that they can go back to normal for some time. This grant will support DocSociety’s work across the documentary film space to reinvent and reimagine film screeings and impact campaigns for the time to come.

Election SOS / American Press Institute General Support $50,000
Election SOS aims to support newsrooms in preparing for responsible coverage of the 2020 elections. In particular, Election SOS is helping newsrooms to use their power to protect the integrity of the election, including spotting voter suppression and voter access, protecting journalists from harassment, and protecting the act of voting during a pandemic; building trust and transparency with audiences through covering election security threats and tackling misinformation and disinformation; and creating engaged, voter-centric campaign coverage in which voters' concerns are centered and prioritized above politician narratives.

Fight Back Table / Demos General Support $100,000
The Fight Back Table is a strategy and coordination effort among key national progressive organizations. The Table provides organizations with the opportunity to better understand the dynamics at play in the current political landscape, learn from and engage with one another’s social change efforts, conduct scenario planning and strategy development across movements, and coordinate responses to challenging movement moments together. This grant will support movement-wide coordination on narrative strategy and messaging.
Fuller Project for International Reporting General Support $150,000/3 years
The Fuller Project is an award-winning global nonprofit newsroom dedicated to objective, groundbreaking reporting on women, to raise awareness, expose injustice and spur accountability. Women are persistently underrepresented in news, including in 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 that is published in the world’s leading global, national and local news outlets.

Just Vision General Support $225,000/3 years
Just Vision believes that effective storytelling is essential for shaping the public norms around Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent efforts and challenging the divisions that dominate the political landscape. It disrupts the mainstream media with stories from and about the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel that are often missed. Just Vision engages discourse shapers and broad publics, ensuring that they contend with narratives about regional inequality that would otherwise be neglected. It also engages students, educators, youth, faith communities, and others who can mobilize pressure on their leaders. Finally, the team works with grassroots leaders in both societies who can make unarmed efforts sustainable over time. Through public engagement efforts, Just Vision ensures that these leaders gain traction within their own societies and on a global scale by fostering awareness, challenging commonly held assumptions, and inspiring audiences to get involved.

LigoranoReese / The Standby Program School of Good Citizenship $25,000
The School of Good Citizenship is a 6-day series of multidisciplinary art events book-ending the Republican Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This project is designed to spark a public conversation about democracy focused on those whose voices have been marginalized historically. In collaboration with local artists, cultural and educational organizations, the focus is on civic engagement through spoken word poetry, visual art exhibitions, public art, film screenings, artist workshops, and discussions. Simultaneously, a second component will commission four local artists to create temporary public art works exploring issues of voting rights, immigration, and incarceration.

Peace is Loud General Support $50,000
Peace is Loud is a nonprofit organization that utilizes storytelling to advance transformative social justice. Peace is Loud believes peace can only be achieved through representation that truly reflects the world we live in, from government and traditional halls of power, to the social movements changing the world. For this reason, the organization is committed to amplifying the stories of those whose identities intersect with systems-oppressed communities, including but not limited to people of color, Indigenous/Native peoples, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, and immigrants. Its two-pronged storytelling approach — on stage and on screen — is carried out through a speakers’ bureau of 30 women human rights leaders and through documentary film impact campaigns.

Rewire.News General Support $50,000
Rewire.News is a daily online publication devoted to intersectional and evidence-based journalism on reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice. Its goal is to provide cutting-edge reporting, analysis, and commentary that informs its politically active readership; challenges false, misleading, and stigmatizing reporting by other media outlets; corrects the record when others fail to report the facts; counters falsehoods and misinformation spread by those who seek political gain from undermining public health and human rights, irrespective of political party or belief; and adds to the body of knowledge and informed public debate by covering unreported and underreported issues. A final grant will support Rewire.News through its founder transition.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program $100,000/2 years
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) supports nonfiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic nonfiction on contemporary themes. Established in 2002, the Program serves as a vibrant, global resource for independent nonfiction storytelling, supporting filmmakers year-round through a granting fund, residential Labs, custom Fellowships, and creative and strategic mentorship. DFP focuses on three, guiding pillars: ART (investing not just in groundbreaking documentary works but also in artists and the development of their craft); REACH (as a proactive cultivator of projects and artists, prioritizing underrepresented voices and under-reported stories, centering our efforts on inclusion, discovery, and sustainability); and CHANGE (championing voices with the capacity to create cultural and social change). The Program is committed to nonfiction storytelling as an increasingly critical, impactful cultural practice and art form in the twenty-first century.

The Meteor Fund / New Ventures Fund 30 Days Til Tomorrow $40,000
The Meteor Fund is a multimedia collective of artists, storytellers, journalists, and other creatives working to lift up the political power of—and issues important to—women. In a 30-day countdown to the November election, the Meteor Fund will create and disseminate digital content to inspire women, particularly women of color, to engage in the political process, and to give them the information they need to do so safely during the pandemic.
The People Votes / Union Docs Statehouse Voter Empowerment Project $100,000
The Statehouse Voter Empowerment project is a 501(c)3 media initiative to encourage state-level voting by groups of potential voters who are under-represented at the polls. A grant will support research on effective messaging and narrative strategy for these groups, interviews with local representatives, message and content testing, and content creation and dissemination.

We Call BS / Utah Film Center $50,000
Filmmaker Kim Snyder's new documentary, "Us Kids," recently premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to standing ovations at every screening. The powerful story follows the young survivors-turned-activists from Parkland, Florida, who catalyzed the March For Our Lives movement. The film is now the cornerstone of an impact campaign that will align with the film's global release this spring and summer. The campaign will primarily take the form of townhalls across the country and aims to support coalition building within the movement to foster inclusion and diversity, promote intergenerational dialogue about gun violence prevention, promote policy reform for gun violence prevention on the local and federal levels, and continue to drive youth civic engagement.

Women’s Foundation of California Gender Justice Culture Change Collaborative Fund $100,000/2 years
The Culture Change Fund at the Women’s Foundation of California is focused on using culture to advance and transform gender justice by changing how the public thinks about issues including economic security, income inequality, violence against women, sexual assault, maternal health, abortion, contraception, and reproductive justice and gender justice more broadly. After a year of deep research and the creation of the Story at Scale platform, the Culture Change Fund is transitioning to the implementation phase, through strategic grantmaking in Georgia, Michigan, and California and a community of learning activities.

Working Films General Support $25,000
Working Films uses documentary films to advance social justice and environmental protection. Its theory of change centers on the unique ability of documentaries to demonstrate complexity, illuminate the intersections between people and issues, and catalyze meaningful action for an equitable future. Working Films works with advocates to curate collections of short films and put them to work through screening tours in places where there is tipping point potential for policy and regulatory change, where there is a need to reach beyond “the choir,” and where there is the potential to create a replicable model. Its film collections, Stories Beyond Borders and Revisioning Recovery, are aimed at shifting dominant narratives about immigration and climate disaster. Working Films is partnering with the School of Good Citizenship leading up to the Republican National Convention share its latest collections and offer training in its methodology for organizers and filmmakers.