CLLI: Storytelling Engagement Community Projects

What are Storytelling Engagement Community Projects?

 The Storytelling Engagement Community Projects are funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, under our Community Leadership Learning Initiative (CLLI). Through re-granting and the advanced practioner learning community, we hope to bring partners working in different sectors and cultural communities together to address our common and systemic challenges. The solutions emerge because of how we set the table; grounding partnerships in shared values and principles, nurturing authentic relationships, and creating intentional space for shared learning and impact. 

What is the Community Leadership Learning Initiative?

 The Community Leadership Learning Initiative will deepen our collective understanding of community-centered leadership, while raising the visibility and demonstrating the value of this powerful work to the field of philanthropy and the broader ecosystem of leadership and community development. 

Overview of Grantmaking Process

 Community-Driven Leadership Framework

  • All members are seen as leaders, are given opportunities to grow in their leadership, and are able to represent their communities at multiple tables. 
  • People are engaged in and have authorship of their lives and their future. 
  • People can and are practicing transformation in their lives, relationships and communities to improve their own health and well-being. 
  • People must work collectively to understand the reality they seek to transform in order to improve and sustain the overall health and well-being of their communities. 
  • People are adaptive, innovative and resilient despite the constraints that push them to conform to dominant, hierarchal forms of leadership and power. 
  • People have formal and informal processes to share power in ways that are contextual and responsive to changing group dynamics and based in cultural practices. 

Grantmaking Priorities

 We are interested in receiving proposals from community groups that use culture, non-hierarchal leadership, or collective decision-making processes to address social issues and give voice to the experiences of our community. We recognize that culture and identity shape how we see leadership and become leaders. We use the terms “culture” and “community” in their broadest possible sense to allow each group to define those for themselves. We know that powerful communities engage members in creating a shared understanding through stories and reflection. 

We are interested in uncovering and reflecting on the many ways community leadership is practiced to enhance the health and well-being of all community members. 


  1. To support and explore community-driven leadership that improves the overall health and well-being of a group as defined by those individuals, families, or community members. 
  2. To develop and share stories of dynamic and cultural practices that support intersectional and relational shared power. 

Eligibility Questions

  • Are you part of a community-driven initiative that is ready to and interested in telling your story of community leadership?
  • Are you willing to participate in a virtual learning community (2-3 times over 8 months) and at least one in-person convening with other community-driven project leaders

Available Resources


  • Total funds allocated: $65,000
  • Grant or contract period: 3 – 8 months
  • Grantees will co-develop:
    • at least one community conversation/storytelling space
      • at least one story ‘product’

Project Scope and Details

  • $20,000 for projects with a specific focus on either convening storytelling spaces or creating stories with community members
    • 3 – 5 awards of $5000
    • By invitation, ongoing
  • $45,000 for projects with dual purpose to convene community(ies) and create stories
    • 3 – 5 awards of $10K – $20K
    • By invitation: Oct 14

Grantees will:

  1. Co-convene storytelling spaces with community-driven initiatives and community leaders to intentionally reflect on and uncover their experiences, processes, challenges and impact 
  2. Co-create story ‘products’ in a variety of media that community leaders can use to tell their own story to their own audiences (e.g. articles, podcasts, newsletters, videos, visual essays) 
  3. Participate in a learning community with community-leadership projects from across the country to explore themes and patterns from their experiences and stories 

Timeline for Activities:

  • Hold at least one community conversation, forum or other convening to capture community stories or create a shared community story
    • anytime March – August 2020
  • Participate in learning community virtual gatherings by web or conference calls
    • 2-3 times Winter/Spring and Summer 2020
  • Develop and share your story ‘product’
    • By October 2020
  • Attend an in-person learning community gathering to review and learn from other examples of community driven leadership
    • Fall 2020

For More Information

For more information or to discuss a possible Storytelling Engagement Community Project application, contact Sida Ly-Xiong at or 651-231-2580