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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Story District

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Performing Arts, Theater

Mission: Story District's mission is to train ​and showcase storytelling talent in the Washington, DC, area and to be an exemplar of transformative autobiographical story performance as a way to enrich an understanding of the world, build community, promote compassion, and highlight our shared humanity.

Results: Story District storytellers and fans reiterate regularly that Story District is important because we create content and provide a space that promotes authentic human connection and give voice to diverse life experiences. They say that telling and hearing stories opens their minds to new perspectives and makes them feel more connected and grounded. Story District is most proud of celebrating our 20th anniversary, which reflects steady growth and sustainability, exemplary artistic works, excellent educational programs, and a thriving community that we have built over the years. “I Did It For The Story: A Tribute to 20 Years of Storytelling" featured 20 storytellers performing to a nearly sold out audience at the Lincoln Theatre. Story District has also been nominated for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts for the DC Mayor's Arts Award in 2012 and 2016, dubbed the "gold standard in storytelling" by The Washington Post, and featured on the cover of The Washington City Paper in September 2017. In August 2016, Story District moved into a space of its very own– storefront space in Park View – where we are able to host our classes, rehearsals, student showcases, board meetings, and community events. Each year, we produce about 30 performances for at least 10,000 patrons featuring more than 200 storytellers on topics like “Sucker for Love" with true stories about romance, “Mind Over Matter" with stories about living with mental illness, “Out/Spoken" with stories from LGBTQ community, and more. Our education programming includes a five-week Storytelling 101 series, a 7-week course for veterans twice a year, a one-day Boot Camp, and free introductory “flash" classes serving about 350 adult students, and occasionally youth, each year. We supported nonprofit organizations, universities, government agencies, and private companies through customized shows and trainings for professionals on the fundamentals of storytelling. Story District has built a library of videos for our fans to enjoy and our storytellers to have as a tool for their artistic development. In 2018, we plan to re-launch our podcast series with 26 new episodes that will feature live performances, interviews with storytellers, roundtable discussions about topics in storytelling, and live coaching. For the last three years, Story District has received funding and technical support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Through this program we have undergone in-depth external analysis of our capacity with recommendations for growth; professionalized our human resources infrastructure; put essential policies and procedures in place; improved our budgeting process and financial systems; rolled out a successful re-brand from SpeakeasyDC to Story District, and executed an extensive strategic planning process.

Target demographics: promote compassion and community through storytelling

Direct beneficiaries per year: 12,000

Geographic areas served: DC, MD, VA

Programs: Story District's mission is to train ​and showcase storytelling talent in the Washington, DC, area and to be an exemplar of transformative autobiographical story performance as a way to enrich an understanding of the world, build community, promote compassion, and highlight our shared humanity.

Community Stories

215 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Speakeasy is one of my favorite parts of DC. They're genuinely committed to fostering opportunities for people to tap into and share their own personal stories. Bootcamps, workshops, open mics, special events - whether you want to tell your story or hear other people tell theirs, SpeakeasyDC is made up of kind, supportive people who want to see you succeed. Love them!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came across SpeakeasyDC 4 years ago and have performed in the their stage many times. SpeakeasyDC gave me the opportunity to craft my stories and perform them and to improve my skills in a safe and contained environment, it provided me with a space that I could not find anywhere else in the DC area. There is nothing like SpeakeasyDC in the whole Washington area. Everytime I invited someone to one of the events where I performed they loved it and everyone always leaves the show in a great mood, and what's best people talk about it later. SpeakeasyDC moreover, reaches out to artists of all types and diversity and gives them an opportunity to express themselves.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The stories are wonderful. I have always been entertained when I have gone to a Speakeasy show. The shows always highlights the best of DC's talent, and Speakeasy represents the true diversity of DC.

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Speakeasy is a wonderful organization that brings community together in a meaningful, positive way. Many arts and education programs are directed at youth or senior populations. It's great to have something that draws a range of adults from a cross-section of the city.

7

Donor

Rating: 5

I began attending the SpeakeasyDC events when a friend invited me, and I have been hooked since. A supportive community, wonderful heartfelt expressions of highly personnel stories, a venue unlike any other in DC. I have come to truly appreciate the unique space that the SpeakeasyDC team has been able to create.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Valentine's Day 'Sucker for Love' Speakeasy was part of a day of events my boyfriend planned for Valentine's Day and it was such a fun way to spend the evening! The night was full of hilarious stories ("Jesus kept crawling into bed with us!"), entertaining realizations ("I was the DUFF!"), and even sad times of the storytellers' love lives. The variety made the night run smoothly without a dull moment. I would definitely attend another Speakeasy!

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Speakeasy DC is definitely in my top 5 DC cultural activities. Over the past few years, I've brought many friends to their monthly performances and special events and everyone always has a great time while learning to open up and to listen. The stories told are truly genuine, original, and heartfelt. They leave the listener inspired to find and tell his/her own story and to open his/her mind to the experiences of strangers. I rarely miss a Speakeasy event if I can help it and feel that attending truly opens my eyes to understanding the DC community.

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks so much for your comments and suggestion! We will definitely try to offer more classes at a range of prices. I love that you'd like to have more storytelling events. We are always brainstorming ways to expand. We'll keep your thoughts in mind about a smaller, more intimate space.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I recently attended the SpeakeasyDC production of "Sucker for Love," and absolutely loved it. The storytellers made the audience laugh, cry, but more importantly, it made everyone think. This was my first SpeakeasyDC event, but definitely won't be my last!

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks for much for your comments suggestion. Good idea about the venue. Will definitely give more info in the future. Thanks and glad you enjoyed the show!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fantastic! I just became aware of SpeakeasyDC this winter and I have fallen in love with it. Their recent "Sucker for Love" show was a classic and I'm looking forward to seeing more of their shows.

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

So sorry for your suffering. We will do our best to provide better breakfast food.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Every month I look forward to SpeakeasyDC's events! As someone who recently moved to DC, it's given me a great opportunity to connect with people in the area, and hear their stories. I love the livewire stories at the end of each open mic, and wish more people had the courage to tell their stories!

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks!

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This group doe a tremendous service to the Metro DC area. Not only do they provide tremendous performances based on real life of everyday people. They give classes and workshops to help people in all walks of life learn to tell their own story. In our day of quick everything.. they take the time to help everyday people and professionals look inside themselves and really communicate on a very human level. Our history is our future in many ways and they help us remember it, and communicate it!

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks for your comments and suggestions! Yes, we'd like to do more with senior citizens. Will work on that and continue to try to find funding for it as well as senior-friendly venues. I'm happy to say, that we've succeeded finding handicap-accessible spaces for almost all of our events and classes.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've taken the storytelling 101 class as well as performed at open mic nights. It's a great organization that adds a unique and amazing addition to the DC culture/arts/performance scene.

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks for your comments and suggestion. We try to keep costs affordable, but understand that means different things to different people. One way to save on costs is to volunteer. Check out our volunteer opportunities and let us know if you are interested. http://www.speakeasydc.com/support/volunteer/

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This was our first experience with SpeakeasyDC and we had a blast. We were invited by friends to attend and it was standing room only. The performers were hilarious. It was a combination of great story telling and stand up comedy. Each performer had honed their skill so it was truly a pleasure to listen and watch the performance. There were no "ums" and "ahs" as all were excellent at the craft of story telling. If they were nervous, it did not show. The theme of Valentines Day for sucker stories ranged from love unspoken to stalker love, to sexy love ("wrong hole, wrong hole") to the most wonderful of all - true love. The venue was great. A little bit of a dive, but thankfully NO smoking. We did not come home reeking which is always a pleasure. We will attend again and look forward to the next show!!

Comments ( 2 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. For those of you with a similar desire to see shows on weekends -- you're in luck. "Wetbacks, Aliens & Towelheads: Stories from the First Generation" will take place Friday, Feb 26 and Saturday, Feb 27. Also, we will have several weekend performance during the Capital Fringe Festival in July. We'll keep adding more.

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Also... yes, we are looking for bigger venues. Feel free to send suggestions to info@speakeasydc.org. We would consider weekend matinees if we thought people would come. So, if anyone out there is interested, let us know.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SpeakeasyDC fills my life with art and creativity. I like many other Washington DC residents spend most of my time working and thinking in a linear way. This organization helps you escape to a creative place where you can learn about other peoples lives and share your own. It has been a wonderful experience.

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

Thanks, Molly. We love you, too.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm amazed by all the local talent that come out to tell their stories each month. It was really evident when they had a show featuring guest performers from NYC one time. I was anticipating it to be awesome because they were from NYC and all... but by the end of the evening, I thought the DC crew by far blew them away.

Comments ( 1 )

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StoryDistrict 02/16/2010

We are always looking for bigger and more comfortable venues. Feel free to send suggestions to info@speakeasydc.org. Thanks for your comments and suggestion!