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The Community Voice Project is now a featured program within CMSI!

The Center for Media and Social Impact is proud to announce the Community Voice Project has now joined CMSI as a featured program. 

The Community Voice Project (CVP) is a community storytelling initiative led by American University Filmmaker-in-Residence Nina Shapiro-Perl that connects members of American University’s student population with communities in the Washington Metropolitan area to produce short documentary films and digital stories. The CVP partners with a local community organization to focus on a topic and tell the stories most important to that community.

As part of this new initiative, a series of Master Classes will occur with a select group of highly skilled students who will be trained to facilitate digital storytelling in community settings. Digital stories are four-minute self-told films by community members about a transformational moment in their lives. 

This year the CVP will continue its work with an existing partner, the Anacostia Community Museum, to engage in a new program to train highly skilled storytellers to become Digital Storytelling Facilitators. During Master Class sessions in Digital Storytelling, conducted by Professor Shapiro-Perl.  The selected participants will train to become facilitators in the art and method of digital storytelling in the community and learn how to help community members “find” the stories they wish to tell, taking us into the lived experience of community residents, in their own words.

Over the course of 10 months, participants will work with members of communities facing change, such as Anacostia and other communities East of the River. In participating in this project, students and community members whose paths might rarely cross, will collaborate and learn from each other. Digital storytelling is the bridge.

Digital stories created will be included in public screenings at American University, the Anacostia Community Museum, and other venues to be determined. Selected works may also be included in a future exhibit at the Anacostia Community Museum.

 As a CMSI Trained Facilitator in Digital Storytelling, participants can:

  • Develop an understanding of one’s own story in order to more effectively connect with collaborators and participants
  • Develop effective pathways of communication
  • Work with nonprofits to capture participant’s stories
  • Develop interviewing skills
  • Develop emotional sensitivity when working with community or documentary participants
  • Organize and train community storytellers
  • Teach community storytelling in educational and community settings.

Ideal Applicants are:

  • Interested in giving voice to marginalized communities and exploring inequality in all its forms.
  • Interested in working in education at various levels. 
  • Interested in community building.

Requirements:  Video editing skills at an intermediate to advanced level.  Intermediate audio and videography skills a plus.

Tentative Meeting Dates (subject to change):

The sessions will be held from 12 to 5pm.  Attendance for all sessions is MANDATORY.  In addition to the dates below, selected students will also be required to schedule individual sessions with their partnered community storyteller. 

Schedule  (Sessions to be held at American University unless otherwise noted.)

February 21, 2016                      

March 20, 2016                 

April 3, 2016

May 1, 2016 - Location TBD

June 5, 2016 - Training at Anacostia Community Museum       

July 10, 2016

July 24, 2016 - Screening at Anacostia Community Museum   

In order to be considered for the Community Voice Project, individuals must submit a completed Application Packet.

 Application Packet Requirements:

  • A completed application form
  • A one (1) page personal statement detailing the following:
    • Why applicant wishes to participate in the program
    • How participation will help in your future career
    • One (1) Letter of Reference from someone familiar with your work.
    • Five (5) minute work sample
      • Work sample should demonstrate technical and storytelling abilities


Application Due December 15, 2015.

For any questions, please contact the CMSI team members below:

Mitra Arthur, Program Coordinator: Ma6166a@student.american.edu

Brigid Maher, Program Director: bmaher@american.edu

Nina Shapiro-Perl, Creative Director and Lead Instructor: shapirop@american.edu