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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

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have watched SpeakEasy DC grow from a local unstructured open mike format to what it has become.....a premier event with educators and tutors to provide the public with a rare opportunity to tell your story with professional guidance. Any SpeakEasy DC event is professional, intersting, mostly humorous and the best bargain in town for a night out. Can't wait for the next show.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've taken two Speakeasy workshops and been on stage twice. Speakeasy coaches have given me great advice and tools on how to craft a meaningful story that is worth telling. In the process, I've made great new friends and heard some amazing stories by amazing storytellers. Speakeasy is certainly a unique DC organization that I'm grateful to have stumbled upon when I moved here a couple years ago.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My husband and I attended "Logic, Luck, and Love" for your first Valentine's Day as a married couple.

It was the perfect evening - edgy, funny, touching. We hope to see many more of these shows in the future!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm an English teacher who took a Speakeasydc course to help with my curriculum story telling unit. The experience did far more than enrich my teaching. It was a deeply meaningful time that sold me forever on the almost sacred act of sharing true stories. A very talented and professional staff.

Annie C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would recommend Speakeasy DC for a great night out or to anyone who has ever wondered how to tell a story. I was introduced to the monthly format a couple of years ago when it was at the old location. Every show is well organized and professionally produced. I was inspired to take their storytelling bootcamp as well. What a rewarding experience!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to my first SpeakEasy event and heard absolutely fantastic stories about totally normal life events. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to be on stage. So I participating in their storytelling 101 boot camp--it was fantastic. To help people tell their stories and cut through the crap to bring out a narrative amidst the mundane is so valuable.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

had heard lots about speakeasy and whenever i tried to attend, they were sold out! finally got in and was amazed at the quality of material and organization of the show. met the director amy, who is just amazing. she was searching for bigger venues to accomodate the ever growing audiences and she found the perfect venue. i tell all my friends to go to each speakeasy and love to repeat the stories i heard. amy is super organized and has the speakeasy group appearing in every possible venue (aka fringefest), constantly bringing more lovers of speakeasy into the fold. she has top notch staff to keep the on-line stories and info up to date, video folks, volenteers, especially performers, teachers,you name it~all fabulous and totally top notch. i am happy to be a donor and supporter of this most orginal group. truely a gem in washington dc where the usual entertainment fare can be so hoo-humm. i am also amazed at how each show crosses all socio-ecomonic, racial, age...all demographics are represented and there are so few places where that happens in such a wonderfully creative yet organized way~LOVE, LOVE, LOVE SPEAKEASY!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SpeakeasyDC rocks! I attended one of their performances on Valentine's day, which was thoroughly entertaining, drop-dead funny, and quite inexpensive. Great organization: I would recommend them to anyone!

Lish E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SpeakeasyDC rocked my world. I was loosely calling myself a creative writer, with no aspirations to get up in front of a room full of people (thought of it made my stomach turn inside out and all pores commence sweating), when I signed up for Storytelling 101 in order to improve my writing skills.

The curriculum and instructors taught me how to not only relay my stories to connect with an audience better and evoke emotion, suspense, excitement, etc...they also taught me, through baby steps, how to have the confidence to get up in front of people and share, overcoming, at least in the moment, the insane nerves and nausea.

Beyond that, SpeakeasyDC has brought new supportive/funny/interesting friends into my life and welcomed me into a new community.

I enjoyed the class and continue to enjoy the salons and performances, as well as the improvement in my writing and public speaking.

Donor

Rating: 5

SpeakeasyDC has exposed me to the wonderful world of storytelling. It is not just telling stories, it is sharing a part of a person's life experiences. The warm and friendly atmosphere is always welcoming to all who attend the shows.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Speakeasy DC, to the best of my knowledge has never done anything about homelessness, poverty, disease, or substance abuse. In fact*, they may actually encourage alcoholism, because its so much fun to drink at their shows. They have not furthered humankind's understanding of the universe, supported scientific discovery or even enven encouraged a child to participate in the science fair. In fact*, they told him it was for nerds. Yet, this is my favorite non-profit in DC. I can't really justify all the money that I think you should give them, so check out a show and see for yourself.
* - not a fact.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I attended a SpeakEasyDC performance last summer during the 2010 Fringe Festival. The stories were wonderful and well told, and served as a reminder that we all have amazing things to share. In this age of "soundbites" and speedy communication, it is also gratifying to know that the ancient art of storytelling is still alive.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love Speakeasy because its the chance to see regular people so skillfully telling the most amusing, touching, serious stories about their lives, and in ays that I can often identify with. Its like a conversation with a friend, and yet with the warmth of an audience in live performance!

Roberta M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My friends and I love going to Speakeasy DC. The stories are funny and we leave the evening thoroughly creatively nourished. Most of the storytellers do an excellent job of building suspense and sharing some very intimate and poinent experiences in a humorous way. We like the venue too.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Entertaining and enlightening! I love everything they do. They are the best!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a student of their Storytelling 101 course, and it was a terrific experience. The instructors were helpful, constructive and generous with their time. It helped build my confidence in public speaking and it was a fun way to do it.

Rich B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Loved the LOVE Show on Valentines Day! Speakeasy DC never disappoints.

Liliane B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son and I have attended several Speakeasy event and through the fringe festival and just loved the hilarious and poignant stories that the participants shared with us. We like it so much in fact that I gave my 18 year old your day long workshop as his birth day present - he loved it!

Annie F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've attended three SpeakEasy shows, and they all have been great! The stories are always interesting, and the storytellers are engaging. SpeakEasy provides an important service by teaching people how to tell their stories and providing them a safe and welcoming space to share them.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to the most recent speakeasydc show and all the stories had certain levels of humor, poignancy and pathos. It was enjoyable and very well set up. I'll definitely go again soon.