Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA

by Story Tapestries Inc.
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Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA
Amplifying Voices for Racial Equity in MD-DC-VA

Did you know that kids smile up to 400 times per day? And that when you look at a person who’s smiling, it’s nearly impossible not to smile yourself?

This update is all about giving you more reasons to smile - which gives you the same boost as 2,000 bars of chocolate - without all the calories! So what are you waiting for?!?

Since 2010, Story Tapestrieshas increased access to arts experiences, supporting over 1 million community members to discover their own possibilities, fall in love with learning, overcome barriers, and feel more connected to one another—but we wouldn’t have been able to do this alone!

On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Story Tapestries joined GlobalGiving to celebrate the 20th anniversary.  GlobalGiving as you know is a nonprofit which has been helping us use the arts as a powerful tool to create accessible, open spaces and opportunities for individuals to reach their highest potential and to work together for a more inclusive community since 2012—and supporting community-led change around the world since 2002.

From intimate portraits of local changemakers to live performances by international art groups, including Story Tapestries, this is an event by our community, for our community—and it wouldn’t be complete without you.

Watch the past Celebration Now

More reasons to smile…

If you missed our performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in January, pop some popcorn or grab your favorite sweet or savory snack and settle in to listen to some powerful and tender stories: 

Warning: cuteness overload! We were honored to be in the Nonprofit Spotlight as a partner of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Children’s Opportunity Fund as part of the Read Across America Day celebration on March 2nd. Check out this sweet video featuring our community’s youngest learners: 

I want to hear from you! As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, I’ve asked our community to share about the important women in their own lives. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: 

Last but not least, I invite you to enjoy a free performance for all ages presented online by Story Tapestries.  Gather 'Round: Bedtime Stories for the entire family, a performance presented by Drew Anderson on Sunday, April 24, 2022 6-6:45 pm. This interactive and engaging assembly is challenging, fun, and entertaining! Each member of the audience has an opportunity to "GET INVOLVED!"

Register for this event at: 

As we spring forward and move through our busiest time of the year, I’m grateful for the ability to share a smile with you. The days are hectic and full, but they are also graced with moments of connection and celebration and it is my hope that through my work at Story Tapestries, I’m able to shine a light of possibility on your day. By joining in on the fun and sharing your smile, you become a beacon of light for our community.

Thank you and sending you HUGS and smiles,



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Wishing you and your loved ones

          space to reflect on this past year

                    time to rest and refuel your body and mind

                              energy and support to take on new adventures in 2022!

We took a moment to reflect with some of our teaching artists and wish to share these uplifting stories with you.

Last May 2021, while co-teaching my first on-site residency since March 2020, I was reminded of the fact that every student is unique and has individual needs. I encountered a student that was very detached and uninterested, which resulted in actions of fidgeting, inappropriate shouting out, and overall disruptive behavior. I took the time to meet with one of the teachers and found out that this particular student had difficulty writing and was more engaged when he was able to type his answers. Once we discovered and implemented this accommodation the student began to thrive as well as participate and even take on more responsibility. It was a nice reminder to always take the time to search for a solution. We never really know what the problem may be until we take the time to observe, inquire, experiment, and reflect.

- Valerie Baugh-Schlossberg, Program Manager and Teaching Artist

Working with the staff and young ones at Kids Villa was quite the delight! The power of beatboxing has a surprising way to relax an apprehensive 2-5 year old who is already used to an established pattern for their day. I was very fortunate to be a new addition to their daily schedule. Each group connected in their own way with the music, movement, activities and learning. We explored the 4 seasons, steady beat, end rhyme, and much, much more. I look forward to returning. They made me feel like I was famous!

- Jamaal "Mr. Root" Collier

We worked alongside a mentorship group created by YMCA Youth and Family Services. We coordinated a series of Amplify US! workshops with the mentors, with and without their mentees, to create space for self exploration regarding why they decided to be mentors, what kind of relationship they wanted to have, and what impact they would like to have on their mentee. By partnering with this preexisting program and creating an Amplify US! space tailored to their needs, we've created an opportunity for participating members' voices to be amplified and we can better track the impact of this specific program.

- Michelle Faulkner-Forson, Innovation and Partnerships Director

This remarkable period in our lives has intensified the need for connection and conversation. Through storytelling, we can capture narrative time capsules community experiences and their resulting impact. Let this moment be a reminder not to wait. Now is the time to have share our stories and listen to the stories of our neighbors and friends.

Think it’s a great idea in theory but maybe you aren’t sure where to begin? A great conversation often starts with a thoughtful question. What do you remember about kindergarten? Tell me about your favorite holiday tradition when you were a kid. What is/was your neighborhood like? If you could make any wish for 2022, what would it be?

Our wish is for you to know how much we appreciate all the ways you contribute to the mission of Story Tapestries and the vision of a more joyful, equitable world for all! You were the difference for 350,000+ children, educators, moms and dads, and seniors in the Greater DC region, across Maryland, and beyond. You created exciting reasons to show up and participate enthusiastically at school, at work, and at home, and you provided valuable work opportunities to artists who were afraid they wouldn’t make rent.

On behalf of the Story Tapestries staff, Board members, teaching artists, our volunteers, community partners and me: thank you!


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Cultivating a love for learning
Cultivating a love for learning

Your dollars make all the difference! You've helped over 200,000 youth learn about empathy and how to see the world from someone else's perspective.

The video shared below (click to watch now) is just one example of the power of collaboration and the importance of building a world of "WE" versus a world of "ME." It came about with the support of individuals like you who are invested in your community, alongside local businesses, educators, and artists. Story Tapestries has witnessed over and over again the incredible power of the arts to shift the dynamics so community members focus on what “WE” can create, realizing the capacity we each have to create possibility for another person. 

It is so exciting and humbling to see businesses stepping up and supporting the ability to make this kind of “magic” happen. Our network - that’s you -  is a true gift as you’re constantly thinking about how you can support the community. Your contributions have expanded the reach of arts programs to over 350,000 community members this year - WOW!  Your support has grown beyond a simple donation of dollars to a true partnership that values the capacity for the arts to impact learning. The shift began with conversations with local business owners like Dottie Fitzgerald. When Dottie heard about the urgent issues community members were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was moved to action. Families did not have the tools they needed to support strong, passionate, committed, thoughtful learners. Youth were failing - struggling academically as well as emotionally - and the education gap was growing. Parents were mentally exhausted and worried about how to make ends meet while also helping their children be successful. Story Tapestries had a proven solution: provide access to supplies and engaging learning opportunities that use the arts to make the information and experience fun and inclusive of all. Dottie, and others, jumped in to make sure the youth who needed these resources the most had access.

As a result, students expanded their minds and discovered a LOVE of learning!  Another teacher shared that her students treasure the supplies they received in their arts and learning kit like they are gold because before we sent them their pens, pencils, markers and journals, they used to do their math on paper towels. Last year, to complement our virtual and in-person programs, we gave out 9,000+ arts and learning kits. The need is still great, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with you to expand our reach to 10,000 more youth who can’t wait to receive their own kit!

Bridging the education equity divide
Bridging the education equity divide


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** Be sure to scroll down for a special invitation to an ONLINE celebration this Friday, October 1st - you won't want to miss it! **

As children, and truthfully at every age, when we experience emotion it can negatively impact our behavior and make us feel out of control. Just remember how it felt the last time someone cut you off on the highway - and then how you reacted physically. This emotions-mind-body loop is an important part of social emotional learning - a critical piece of navigating response to trauma. A group of young learners had a chance to explore how movement and giving names to emotions can help make better decisions related to their subsequent behavior. Oh yes, and simultaneously build literacy, problem-solving and communication skills. Learning these skills through the arts meets each learner where they're at, creating a more inclusive approach in the classroom. Let's hear from Teaching Artist and Program Manager, Valerie Baugh-Schlossberg to learn more about this program:

"This past summer, July 2021, I was finally able to return to in-person indoor teaching for some of our youngest artists. It was such a joy to look into the eyes of students and experience the face to face energy exchange that drives so much of our work (from 6 feet away, of course). In the preschool class we mastered identifying emotions and learning how to make physical choices to help us alter those feelings. While working with three older preK students, just about to enter Kindergarten, we set daily personal goals centering around leadership and personal responsibility. Each student was guided to select a goal based on what they would like to improve. 

  • Student 1 identified that he would like to be a better leader for one of the younger preschool students, by modeling best behavior when participating in the class activities. 
  • Student 2, who regularly struggled with impulse control and attention seeking negative behavior, was guided to ask questions if he did not understand a concept or direction.
  • Student 3, a girl who was very engaging and participatory when in the small group, but would suddenly become very shy when joined by the younger students, was encouraged to share out to the entire group at least once daily during the residency sessions. 

Each student rose to the occasion and made progress with their goal. What was most rewarding about this experience was the bravery that each student demonstrated as they took larger risks everyday as they successfully worked on their goal. I believe the social emotional movement activities introduced in the residency helped the students first understand how and what they were feeling and then take steps to alter their physical behavior. Once they had grounded themselves a bit, they were able to have the mental space to enact positive change."

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing this powerful story about one way the arts can support literacy and social emotional learning.

We are excited to shine light on stories like this, and on all of our supporters like YOU this Friday, October 1st from 6:30-8:00pm for our ONLINE Gala - Elevating Voices - Celebrating Community. As a donor and supporter via GlobalGiving, we extend this special invitation to join us:

Get your tickets now!

Every ticket purchase is a donation to support the mission of Story Tapestries.
If you can make a donation, it would be much appreciated.
If not, please use the code below for an exclusive free ticket:
* deselect “cover the processing fee” for the cost to update to $0.00 *

This entertaining evening - hosted by Emmy award-winning sportscaster, Jumoke Davis, and featuring guest performers and many more surprises - is our way of saying THANK YOU to champions for youth and community like YOU who have invested in our mission and vision.

I hope to see you there this Friday!


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Youth at Kid's Villa Learning Center
Youth at Kid's Villa Learning Center

“This artist-in-residency with Story Tapestries and Arianna has truly been the unique difference Waring Station teachers needed to self motivate and improve as teachers. Our teachers are now executing fun and meaningful activities with children in their care. Arianna and Story Tapestries has been a HUGE SUCCESS with our center.”

- Debbie Jones, Kid's Villa Learning Center

This word has been a defining one for the experience most people, including storytellers and teaching artists, have faced since the Covid-19 pandemic began well over a year ago and our world experienced seismic change. Those of us who had been used to performing and presenting in-person with a live audience pivoted to performing and presenting via online platforms. And now, more than a year into the pandemic, the world has begun to shift again, this time taking careful steps closer to the “normal” we once felt we knew. 

As with so much in this pandemic season, meeting uncertainty and changing guidelines with flexibility and make-it-work-attitudes has been the touchstone of returning to in-person performances and residencies. And then circumstances changed. 

First, temperatures increased, going from the moderate weather we’d been experiencing throughout most of spring to the quite-warm days of almost-summer. Second, the Brood X cicadas that had been waiting dormant in the area for 17 years made their presence relentlessly and vociferously known. The teachers at Mary Hart Center wisely decided that these two factors would be too much to overcome for us to have a successful residency outside. All residency portions would be moved inside, which meant that everyone present would need to wear a mask.

If you had asked me even two years ago about whether it would be possible to tell or teach effectively with a mask covering half of my face, my answer would have come without hesitation: “Of course not! A teller and teaching artist’s face is one of her primary tools!” But, once more, this season proved to be a teacher that would cause stretching and growth in ways that we didn’t think possible.

Once again, we pivoted. 

On the day of the kick-off event, mask firmly in place, I told stories to a combined group of preschool to older elementary school children. And there, in the midst of what I once would have called the untenable circumstance of telling stories and teaching from them with a mask covering half of my face and the faces of each teacher and student who was there, something marvelous happened: the stories managed to do their magic. The children participated enthusiastically. There were laughter, intakes of breath, and excellent questions and moments of discussion. And some children whom teachers had expected might not be enthusiastic about a drama and storytelling-based residency showed keen interest.

Through each of the ensuing residency sessions with preschool and school-aged children, I saw interest in and understanding of story grow as students, teachers, and I worked together through activities that supported language arts, social-emotional, and fine motor skill learning in each classroom. But something else happened that I count as one of the most important pieces of any embedded residency: the building of joyful, trust-filled partnership.

Each day of the residency, the basic routine was similar: I would first spend time with the preschool students and then meet with the older students once their school day was complete. And on each day, each group of children greeted the start of our drama time with excitement and communicated what they most enjoyed about the session at the end. After only a couple of sessions, preschool students playing outside when I left the building after the day’s gatherings were complete were stopping their play to call out questions, to introduce me to their parents, or to demonstrate sounds associated with characters from that day’s stories. Similarly, school-aged children began asking whether drama could continue throughout the summer and expressed disappointment when they realized that our drama and storytelling time was coming to an end.

While these relational outcomes can be difficult to quantify, research shows their pertinence to measurable educational benefits. Through this season’s unique circumstances, story was able to exhibit, once again, its strengths as a multi-faceted learning tool that supports key areas of learning in fun, engaging ways while increasing relationship and measurable literacy outcomes, among them increased understanding of story structure and characters; support of building a rich and varied vocabulary; and demonstrated ability to make character and plot-driven choices that can translate from oral to written communications. I’m delighted to have been able to be part of that process.


This story is a reflection about the Discover the Power of the Written Word program, which engaged 1,300+ children and educators in 2021, funded in part by the Children's Opportunity Fund, Maryland State Arts Council, and by support from individual donors - like YOU!



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Organization Information

Story Tapestries Inc.

Location: Poolesville, MD - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @storytapestriesengage
Project Leader:
Arianna Ross
Germantown, MD United States
$6,699 raised of $15,000 goal
89 donations
$8,301 to go
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