Story Works Alaska: Youth voices building connection, opportunity, and resilience.

Supporting youth voices, creating opportunity, and fostering resilience —one story at a time.

The Problem

"For every year that I have been a student in the Anchorage School District, I have taken a survey entitled the Climate and Connectedness survey. And every year I am presented with the same statements and asked whether I agree or disagree. Statements like “in my school, students are given the chance to help make decisions” and “students are involved in helping solve school problems”. Entering high school I began to realize that I didn’t feel this way. Clubs, organizations, and student government bodies… sure they may be able to have an impact. But me? I wasn’t capable of changing things in my school, and I certainly wasn’t able to change things in my community.

During my sophomore year of high school I was introduced to Story Works and I became immediately enthralled. I’ve always had a voice, but I didn’t always know how to use it. Telling my story felt good, it felt real, and it felt promising. I began to understand the power of my words and the words of my peers. I was empowered, and I was hungry for more." -Olive S.J., Story Works Alum and Youth Leadership Team Member

Story Works youth and educators have developed a scalable, free, high school story workshop curriculum to help more youth find connection, build meaning, and know that they matter. With more than 97% of workshop participants self-articulating positive outcomes (such as connection, self realization, and more) and a growing waitlist of educators and schools, we are poised to reach out and share our model, our stories, and our resources with other students and educators. But, as a grassroots, newly established organization, we need your support. Your vote will help the Story Works Alaska Youth Leadership Team as they work to help other youth share their stories --in Alaska...

The Solution

Story Works is a student/teacher/community partnership that has so far involved over 1,800 students from ten high schools in the communities of Anchorage and Unalakleet, Alaska. What began an adult-led invitation to share true, first person stories aloud in high school English classrooms has quickly seen youth step in to lead it forward. And, despite the grassroots and volunteer-run nature of the project, the results have been amazing.

In addition to engaging more than 100 community volunteers in supporting youth in our schools, Story Works also invites student participants to stay involved. Below are some of the many ways that Story Works ​youth ​​participants​ have chosen to stay engaged with the project. :

  • Volunteering in classrooms and working directly with younger high school students work on their stories (these high school volunteers often return to help younger students in the classrooms they had just been in a year or two before).
  • Developing a city-wide Anchorage-based youth leadership team, hosted school and community storytelling events --including sold-out events at 200+ seat venues).
  • Collaborating with teachers and volunteers to improve freely available classroom Story Workshop curriculum (AND free College Essay Workshop curriculum).
  • Presenting (in an entirely youth-led session) stories and introducing the curriculum to educators at national conferences (DeeperLearning March 2018, also accepted to present National Council of Teachers of English and International Bullying Prevention Conference in Nov. 2018).
  • Producing podcasts (including a series featuring stories about bullying, bullying prevention, and resilience).
  • And​,​ currently​,​ developing a series of videos in which past participants introduce the curriculum and offer tips and encouragement to students who are getting ready to share a story with their class.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

​You, the Shared Nation, can send youth from Story Works Alaska to present at the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Bullying Prevention Conference in November 2018. Presentation proposals have been submitted and accepted but we need support to get there. You can help youth from Alaska amplify their voices as they work to amplify the voices of youth in other communities.

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