Brown University – PWAU Project Winner


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Storytellers for Good - Brown University

Grantee: Alexandra Braunstein
Title: Social Innovation Initiative, Communications and Outreach Manager


The Storytellers for Good program selects students with skills in digital storytelling (written, photo, video, audio, or animation) to produce multimedia stories of social impact and innovation at Brown through interviews with students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The stories will be shared with the Brown community (and beyond!) on a dynamic, new web platform launching early next year. The website will act as a hub for stories of social change at Brown, allowing viewers to both learn about and directly connect with the people and resources in our network.


What is your idea for the InSights project?

The Storytellers for Good program selects students with skills in digital storytelling (written, photo,
video, audio, or animation) to produce multimedia stories focused on students, alumni, faculty, and staff exploring social innovation at Brown. The stories will be shared with the Brown community (and beyond!) on a dynamic web platform launching early next year. The goal of this platform is to elevate the voices and experiences of innovators in our network in order to spark new stories and connections. 

Some of the questions these stories address include:

●  How does our community define social innovation?

●  What inspires and motivates individuals to make social change?

●  How have students and alumni in our network changed as individuals and innovators over time?

●  What are some of our network’s unique visions or solutions for social change? 

What is the story that you will convey through the project? How do you hope people will think or act differently as a result of your project?

The individual stories we hope to tell are those of our many students, faculty, alumni, and community partners committed to social impact and innovation. Collectively, we plan to tell a much bigger story: that is, how social innovation serves as a comprehensive, campus­wide expression of Brown culture. Our campus and network will think and function differently in many ways as a result of this work, which aims to: 1) Create a space for self­discovery that allows students to learn more about themselves through the experiences and paths of others; and 2) Frame each story with context that allows the user to see connections between individuals and other efforts in the campus/community, with clear pathways for involvement. As a result we hope to see an increased number of on­ and off­line connections being made throughout our network as well as increased enrollment and engagement in programs, courses, and events related to social innovation at Brown. 


How are you going to create an event that brings together people from different disciplines and backgrounds?

I will work with our storytellers throughout the editorial process to identify and develop story assignments, ensuring that we cover individuals and ideas from many different disciplines, programs, issue areas, and backgrounds. Some of these assignments will come from the students themselves based on their interests and experiences around campus. Others will come from an Editorial Board made up of faculty, staff, and students from many different disciplines and backgrounds, meeting monthly to discuss the stories we need to tell. 


Alexandra Braunstein

As Communications and Outreach Manager for the Swearer Center, Alex helps build strong and effective student initiatives by collecting and sharing stories about their work on campus and beyond. In addition to promoting opportunities for public service and social innovation at the Center, Alex works on building a broad, engaged network in which students, alumni, faculty, and local partners can connect, share resources, and support one another in their ventures.


What expertise and experience equips you to lead this project?

Beyond my own expertise in the area of multimedia storytelling, we are enlisting the efforts of professional alumni and others to work with our storytellers as mentors and offer workshops to more students on campus. Some of these mentors and visitors include Tom Ashbrook, the host of WBUR’s On Point; Jen Galvin, a documentary filmmaker, scientist, and entrepreneur; Lucas Foglia, a photographer and educator; Annie Valk, Deputy Director of Brown’s Center for Public Humanities; Elizabeth Harrison, RI NPR’s Morning Edition host; Mary McGrath, a journalist and media specialist; Benjamin Mandelkern; Media Projects Manager at Brown’s Watson Institute for Internal Studies; and Melinda Rainsberger, a RISD Faculty in animation. Furthermore we will be partnering with leaders at centers around campus ­ including the Alumni Association, CareerLAB, and PR Office ­ in order to collaboratively develop and share our work with a broader audience. 


What are your ideas for keeping the dialogue and community going?

If this initiative is successful, we see exciting possibilities for scaling this website and team of student storytellers throughout the Swearer Center, Brown, and beyond (perhaps to other Changemaker Campuses!). This year will be critical in not only refining our editorial process and value proposition to students but also testing our hypothesis on the impact of storytelling on student initiatives and garnering future support from across campus so we can continue to have greater impact.