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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

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Since moving to the DC area I have been fortunate to attend several Speakeasy events and have had a wonderful time at each one! I really value the opportunity to see young, up-and-coming talent and look forward to sharing a story of my own one day.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

In a world of constant electronic connection, Speakeasy brings actual people together to tell and hear personal stories. I guess I started with This American Life, then discovered Porchlight in San Francisco through friends, the Moth in NYC through a guidebook, and Speakeasy through... years ago I heard somehow about the Washington Storyteller's Theater, and they used to have an International Storytelling Festival. I trekked out to the Finnish Embassy where I heard the tale of the Barking Mouse, and that's still one of my favorite stories. I keep hoping I'll meet a cute single guy at one of the events, and maybe someday I will. In the meantime it's a great way to build community and reconnect with live humans having the courage to stand up in front of a crowd and share their stories. Great social event/excuse to get together with people, too, with the option of drinking but not just a boring happy hour where you have to talk. Sometimes it's good just to listen.

Client Served

Rating: 5

At the Church of the Pilgrims, to which I belong, we often include personal storytelling in worship. One of our members told me about a SpeakeasyDC course she had taken. Intrigued, I signed up for a 1-day storytelling boot camp. Fantastic! Eighteen strangers spent 6 hours helping each other find and develop personal stories. I was convinced that training like this could enhance the storytelling we do in worship -- and build community! I pitched idea to our regional denominational office, and they contracted with SpeakeasyDC to offer two, one-day storytelling workshops for member of our congregations. Now we have about 30 people, clergy and lay, in about 8 churches, who are trained in the basics of effective personal storytelling. If you're in a faith community, check this out!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Speakeasy is fun and meaningful and terrific value!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I took storytelling classes offered by Speakeasy DC, and it was a fantastic experience. The things I learned about structuring and delivering a story have helped me professionally as a marketer. I think the classes could benefit people in all fields. Everyone needs to be able to express themselves persuasively and stories do that best.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first encountered SpeakeasyDC when it was still part of Washington Storytellers Theater, maybe in 2005. I began telling stories immediately, and Speakeasy became a homebase for me. I have performed more than 10 times on stage, and taken several storytelling classes. This experience led me to other storytelling experiences including appearing in the Capitol Fringe Festival. What is most admirable about SpeakeasyDC is the clear decision and commitment taken to be an educational venue for all, a place where non-tellers could try it out, gain skills and coaching, all in front of a very generous audience, and all while assuring the top quality possible -- a very difficult formula indeed, but one that's been met and more. The staff, board and volunteers are extraordinarily loyal - and their energy, charisma and talent continue to sustain a high quality endeavor that now has deep roots in the community and increasing connectivity nationwide.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered and also just attended these shows with family and friends. I rave about them to all sorts of folks. It is ABSOLUTELY the best time you can have in this city for $10.00, and the buffet is an additional plus. It's a great experience, come and see.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been attending SpeakeasyDC events for over a year and I took their Storytelling 101 class.

SpeakeasyDC creates a sense of community and humanity, in a city where that can be very difficult to do. With every event, I feel closer to the city that I now call home, and to the many different people who share it with me.



I am a huge fan of SpeakeasyDC!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great stories and great sense of community created by SpeakeasyDC.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to the "Greatest Hits" show, and it was one of the best things I did all year.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Everytime I go to a SpeakEasy event, I am never disappointed. Great people. Great stories. Great venues. I feel more connected to my community when I attend these events. All of the storytellers are really open and honest and relateable. Great job, guys!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The first night I experienced the Speakeasy I wondered why DC wasn't more well-known for its depth and quality of its arts scene. The stories were amazing, the event was extremely well run and an all around good time. It made me feel like I was part of a community in this big city.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Speakeasy DC is a great organization serving the DC metro area. They make their shows affordable, entertaining, but best yet, keeping the rich art of storytelling alive and well. Storytelling is core to American culture and heritage.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Speakeasy is about as good an organization as I've seen in the 60+ years I've lived in DC. It works on so many levels. First, it is about building community through the intimacy of sharing true stories with strangers, acquantances and friends. Second, it is about building community through a gathering where new friendships and connections are made. Third, it is about the highest quality of entertainment available. Every night it will make you laugh, make you think and make one aware of the quality of the shared human journey. Fourth, it is about quality and professionalism. Because of the quality of the coaching, screening, and educational services the open mics are always of the highest quality. It is amazing to witness the incredible level of amatuer quality that is manifest EVERY tuesday. Because fo this quality it self generates an expanding outward spiral of quality. More peopel coem because of the high level of quality, really good tellers are motivated by the quality to tell, the level of quality continues to grow. Remarkable.

fayette.fox

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I'm a writer and have attended several SpeakeasyDC storytelling performances. I am always delighted by the way I feel after hearing a really good story. Some of the stories are humorous and some are serious, but they're always true tales from people's personal experiences. An excellent night out.

Daniel S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Speakeasy provides a wonderful class that I found enlightening from a personal and professional perspective. I felt that I grew in the class and came to know my own story better - to know what it meant to me and to others, and how it related to other aspects of my life. I believe I came to know myself better in the class, and learned a lot about the other people in the class as well. It is really a remarkable experience and I would (and have) recommened the introductory class to others.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our first experience was a performance to which my friend and I were lucky enough to be given tickets. It was delightful! The performances were intelligent, comical, poignant, entertainting. Our first time as patrons will not be our last; we have already purchased tickets to future events and are eagerly looking forward to making Speakeasy DC part of our "social" lives.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Speakeasy produces wonderful events for the DC community. Each time I attend a storytellers event I am so grateful that such an organization exists.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Speakeasy DC is a fantastic outlet for undiscovered talent in the DC area. Always a good vibe, great people, and the woman who runs it has awesome energy.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been to two SpeakeasyDC events and loved both. The venues are warm and welcoming and the people are as well. I can't wait to go back for the next.

Review from Guidestar