About U

Story U enlists and educates community members in sharing their stories with each other and with potential supporters and allies who can help advance their cause.

At 826LA, Sylvia Sukop collaborated on a youth writing workshop with Erica Ayon, Thi Dao, and Rachelle Cruz as part of PEN Emerging Voices program. Photo by 826LA’s Danny Hom.

Running a busy nonprofit communications consulting practice in the Los Angeles area, I deliver stories (500 to 2,500 words in length) grounded in thorough research, interviews, and fact checking — often accompanied by my photographs — for publication in print and online. I have also written training materials on storytelling for advocacy, education, and evaluation.

In both my professional assignments and my volunteer commitments, I am increasingly called upon to help people tell their own stories. Now, through Story U, the kinds of people I have often written about — youth and other advocates spearheading positive change in their neighborhoods, schools, and families — become more than a story’s subject. They become collaborators in its creation.

Story U offers an integrated experiential learning approach to collaborative storytelling, simultaneously achieving several powerful outcomes:

  • Strengthening community capacity. Through one-on-one engagement in story concept and development, interviews, photography, writing, and editing, community collaborators learn vital new skills essential to effective communications outreach, policy advocacy, and program evaluation.
  • Creating communications assets. Highlighting challenges confronted and strategies that worked, participants’ inspiring stories of transformation provide high-quality visual and narrative content (complete with appropriate legal releases) for websites, newsletters, press releases, and public presentations.
  • Enhancing qualitative evaluation. Giving voice to both individual and collective experience, storytelling offers a proven, culturally appropriate approach to evaluating the impact of grassroots programs involving diverse constituents.

How we can work together.