Story Works supports youth voices through storytelling and writing workshops that develop skills, build resilience, and increase access to opportunity. We believe in the importance of listening, the protective value of connection, and the power of stories to foster wellness for individuals and communities.
What We Do
UPDATE: We currently offer online versions of our programs for high school students, educators, and community members. When public health conditions permit, we will also continue our in-person programs. We also share our resources for supporting those programs with interested educators and students. Please contact us if you are an educator, student, or community member interested in connecting to resources or programs.
Our Story Workshops bring volunteers into high school English classrooms to encourage and support student storytellers. These volunteer listeners include adults from the community (active professionals, retirees), recent high school graduated who have participated in Story Works, and also older students from within the school. Participants workshop stories in small groups and can then opt to share their story with their full class. The stories that emerge from these workshops offer opportunities for learning and connection between peers and community members.
Our College Essay Workshops offer free, out-of-school and/or in-school support to students developing college admissions essays. Participating students attend workshops on essay development and are matched with volunteers (journalists, writers, editors, former English teachers etc.) who offer support and encouragement during this challenging and high stakes process. Recent Story Works participants are now also involved in these workshops, providing neer-peer support and encouragement.
Our Story Circles (developed in partnership with The Alaska Humanities Forum and a team of Story Works alums during the COVID-19 pandemic) offer an opportunity for people to gather together to listen and share thoughts and stories related to a common theme. These trauma-sensitive, connection-building, hour-long gatherings are led by youth facilitators (all recent or current high school students who have participated in Story Works’ programs) and supported by Story Works staff. Participants do not need to prepare anything and have the option to share or simply listen to others. Story Circles are currently offered online only but we hope to make this program available in-person when public health conditions permit. To learn more and to inquire about a Story Circle for your organization, school, or other group, please contact us here. Note that while each Story Circle is small (6-10 people), Story Works can accommodate larger groups in simultaneous groups.
Youth4Change launched in summer 2020 in collaboration with BIPOC youth and community partners. Youth4Change is a group of BIPOC youth (ages 14-24) interested in addressing systemic racism, particularly within our schools. Please click here to learn more and get involved.
The Story Works Alaska Youth Team (SAYiT) is a group of Story Works alums (many of them also involved in the programs above) who meet outside of school time to plan and conduct projects to support youth stories. First launched in January 2015, SAYiT has since:
- Hosted two Anchorage-wide events featuring storytellers from multiple high schools,
- Led story workshops for elementary-aged students,
- Produced podcasts featuring stories related to bullying prevention and resilience.
- Led a workshop at a national education conference, Deeper Learning 2018, and taught teachers from around the US how to support student voices at their schools.
- They are currently developing a series of videos to support Story Works participants in classrooms beyond Anchorage.
Why We Do It
We were founded to share the growing energy around storytelling in our community with the young people in our schools. And we continue to grow in response to the power of the young people and their stories.
Our workshops offer young people and teachers a chance to receive additional support from community volunteers while constructing meaning through stories. They also offer schools and communities a way to value, support, and listen to the voices of young people.
Where We Are
As of 2020, our in-person workshops have occurred primarily in the communities of Anchorage and Unalakleet, Alaska. However, our Story and College Essay lessons and materials have been used by educators as far away as New York and Texas. We currently offer online versions of our programs for high school students, educators, and community members. Participants from across Alaska and the US have participated in these online programs. When public health conditions permit, we will also continue our in-person programs.
Our physical location is in Bartlett High School (1101 Golden Bear Dr., Anchorage, Alaska), home of the Golden Bears. Go Bartlett Bears!
Youth leaders working with Story Works also meet outside of school to plan events, produce podcasts, and manage other projects. If you are a current or recent high school student or interested in joining SAYiT (the Story Works Alaska Youth Team), becoming a Story Circles Facilitator, or participating in Anti-racism work with Youth4Change please message us on Instagram (@storyworksak) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who We Are
Since Story Works began (way back in February 2014), over 2,500 high school students (and a handful of middle school students) have participated in our workshops. These students include Anchorage-area students from Polaris, West, East, Service, Bartlett, Steller, and Dimond High Schools along with students in grades 8-12 in the community of Unalakleet, Alaska.
Although participants have the choice to opt out (and write an essay or share to a small group), more than 99% choose to share their stories aloud –with volunteers, teachers, and each other. Stories have been shared in classrooms, in hallways, in stairwells, and on school stages. And even beyond school walls, at Arctic Entries events –in front of audiences of up to 1,500 people– and at other community-wide events.
Story Works student storytellers from Anchorage’s West and Dimond High Schools have also been featured on the Alaska Teen Media Institute’s youth radio show, In Other News.
Want to hear stories from students? Listen here.
Plus this project would not be possible without our board, staff, co-founders, and another 100+ volunteers and 15+ partner-teachers –all of whom have contributed countless hours towards supporting students and their stories.
We also thank our many partner organizations and donors for their relentless support of our mission.