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In 2014 we created our Community Storytelling Fellowship because media needs to be MORE diverse, MORE relevant and BETTER REFLECT THE COMMUNITIES THEY COVER.
Over the course of a year our team worked with 3 vibrant, committed based storytellers. During their 10-week paid immersion in audio storytelling, each fellow turned their personal experiences into 8 minute radio segments-intense, moving stories you won’t hear anywhere else.
We recently announced our 2nd class of fellows and have some big plans ahead for this year’s cohort, including the addition of a 4th fellowship position!
We’ve already hit the ground running!
- We’ve been working with our 1st fellow Al Sasser whose 31 years in prison will inform his reporting on reentry and prison support networks.
- Next up, Ivan Rodriguez will explore the environmental racism plaguing the Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up.
- Our amazing fellow Alice Wong will explore the power dynamics between disabled people and their caregivers.
- While award winning writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras will focus on assimilation and culture by detailing her personal experiences reclaiming her family’s myths and historical narratives.
Now we’re excited to announce our 1st major crowdfunding campaign to help us pay this year’s class of inspiring storytellers!
Why is this important?
As ongoing conversations about lack of diversity demonstrate, most media outlets haven’t prioritized coverage and opinions from marginalized communities. And radio is no exception.
In 2012, NPR reported that the overwhelming majority of its radio audience was white –roughly 87 percent.
According to a survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association and Hofstra University only 7 percent of people working in radio newsrooms identify as people of color.
In a lecture on the lack of diversity in radio, Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika of Clemson University challenged radio producers “how will you use new tools to make space for different voices in your stories?”
Making Contact has been making space for diverse voices in radio since 1994 and this fellowship is our latest innovation. We’re harnessing the power of our supporters and new technology to analyse critical issues and inspire community action.
While so many in the media community talk about diversity in coverage and new models for community participation, Making Contact is building those new models, based off of our 20 year history.
Our communities are full of people with powerful stories and we gain valuable insights when someone directly affected by an issue is able to share their experience directly.
Our fellows are all talented and dedicated activists, artists and organizers. Together we’ll create stories that humanize and add historical context to important national issues, shed light on inequalities and explore alternatives and pressing problems.
Meet the fellows
Our fellows illustrate the dynamic layers of communities in California, particularly those that are under represented in the dominant narratives of our society. Read more about our 2015 class.
More about Al
Sentenced to 15 years to life at the age of 19, Al Sasser served 31 years I prison before being released in September 2013. Education became his springboard toward change, as well as a mutual support system developed among a group of 50 men at the California State prison in Solano, CA. As one of Making Contact’s community Storytelling Fellows, Al will tell the story of how these men transformed themselves and the greater culture inside the prison walls, and have maintained a system of peer support on the outside. Thus far, 44 of the 50 men he worked with have been released.
More about Alice
Alice Wong, MS, proudly claims several identities: Asian American, woman, disabled person and big-time nerd. As a disability rights activist in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 18 years, Alice keeps all my work and activism inter-sectional. There is no one ‘disability’ experience and in every community there is a diverse spectrum of understanding and perspectives.
Alice spends most days as a Staff Research Associate at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF. There she works on various research projects for the Community Living Policy Center, a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center. She is also an author of online curricula for home care providers and caregivers for Elsevier’s College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving.
Alice is also playing an important role documenting the stories of individuals with disabilities. Currently, she is the Project Coordinator for the Disability Visibility Project, a community partnership with StoryCorps. The Disability Visibility Project is a grassroots effort collecting oral histories of Americans with disabilities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Alice is also an Advisory Board member of APIDC (Asian Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California) and a Presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability (until September 2015), an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies on disability policy.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
More about Ingrid
Ingrid Rojas Contreras is the 2014 recipient of the Mary Tanenbaum Literary Award in Nonfiction. She is a 2015 fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto and is in residence in Cassis, France, as part of the Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellowship. Her writing is forthcoming or has been anthologized in Guernica Annual, Wise Latinas (University of Nebraska Press) and American Odysseys: Writings by New Americans (Dalkey Archive Press). Currently, she is working on a nonfiction book about her grandfather, a medicine man who it is said could move clouds.
More about Ivan
Ivan Rodriguez was born and raised in Los Angeles to parents who immigrated from Mexico to make a better life for their family. He is the first generation in his family to seek a higher education in this country. When he was young, a mentor told him he had the responsibility to speak for those who didn’t have a voice. He became active in community issues after watching his parents and other community use their voices to demand better education opportunities for local youth.
Ivan wants to be the driving force of change in his community and his Making Contact story will focus on the institutional environmental racism plaguing the neighborhood where he grew up.
How you can help
By providing fellows with payment for their time and work, we are making this fellowship accessible to all of our community members.
- Your $250 donation goes pay a fellow for 20 hours of their work
- Your $100 donation goes to pay for a fellow’s piece to be uploaded to National Public Radio
- $20 pays for a 2lb bag of coffee to help us produce independent nonprofit radio
Help the media represent the issues and communities YOU care about!
Other ways you can help:
- Share this campaign with your friends on social media and email. https://www.radioproject.org/crowdfunding
- Embed our crowdfunding widget on your website.
- Become a community advocate-sign up here: https://www.radioproject.org/ambassadors/
- Leave a comment of support on our crowdfunding page.
Thanks to Evelyn Thorne for creating our crowdfunding videos.