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Story Lab, a storytelling and creative writing program for youth in Sitka, has announced that it has been awarded the LRNG Educator Innovator Challenge grant, which is run by the National Writing Project and John Legend’s “Show Me” Campaign.
The competition selected a joint application submitted by Story Lab and the Sitka School District from 164 applicants from all over the country; 10 other applicants were also awarded a $20,000 grant.
Story Lab is a program of the Sitka-based Island Institute, which works to generate and share ideas, skills, and expressions to empower resilient coastal communities. The program offers in- and after-school storytelling and creative writing workshops to Southeast Alaskan youth ages 5-19. Story Lab was founded on the belief that experimenting with creativity through storytelling and creative writing strengthens students’ confidence, communication skills, and empathy. The workshops, that are free for families and schools, help students to express themselves with clarity, purpose, and imagination. In two years of the program, Story Lab has worked with 500 students in Sitka and Southeast.
In its third year, utilizing the LRNG grant, Story Lab will continues to offer in- and after-school workshops, formalize the connection between Story Lab and the school district, and build capacity for new programs centered on storytelling, creative writing, and imaginative play. The program will also deepen its connections to Southeast communities outside Sitka, by traveling to schools to run workshops and working remotely with students.
Story Lab Coordinator Sarah Swong indicated that the LRNG proposal had support from over 50 teachers, administrators from the Sitka School District, and local writers and artists, who all conveyed their confidence in Story Lab as a thriving youth program for the community.
“I’ve seen students become braver, more open, and more supportive of each other through Story Lab,” Swong said. “Parents and teachers say that our workshops makes their kids more excited to write than ever before.”
The LRNG grant supports “connected learning,” a model of education that values creating and experimenting with hands-on activities and learning in school, at home, and in the community. This year, LRNG challenged teacher-led teams to partner with out-of-school educators to create educational experiences that expand the possibilities for learning in schools.
For more information on Story Lab or the Island Institute, visit www.iialaska.org or call 747-3794.