Young Storytellers, formerly the Young Storytellers Foundation, is an arts education non-profit operating primarily in Los Angeles.
Young Storytellers currently serves elementary, middle, and high school students in Southern California, including the cities of Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Burbank. Young Storytellers targets Title 1 schools; these are schools and school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty in which academic performance tends to be low and the obstacles to raising performance are the greatest. The program improves writing, literacy, and self-confidence.
Young Storytellers began as an in-school mentoring program in 1997 - by three screenwriters Mikkel Bondesen, Brad Falchuk, and Andrew Barrett upon learning about cutbacks in funding for creative arts programs in the Los Angeles public schools. The first school adopted into the program was an elementary school in Culver City. The program was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2003.
Script to Stage
The Script to Stage program is its main program whereby students in fifth grade write short plays in the course of ten weeks later to be performed by actors on stage. Students in the programs are selected on multiple criteria by teachers and can include students who are not proficient in the English language, have difficulty with reading and writing, or have social assimilation issues. The Script to Stage program produces 900 scripts per year.
The program is run in each school by a volunteer Head Mentor and volunteer Mentors. Each mentor works one-on-one with a student for the duration of the nine-week program to create a screenplay and the resulting screenplay is then performed by a volunteer performer. There are currently over 2,500 volunteers in Los Angeles serving 1,200 students in 60 schools.
The organization received grants from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association multiple times. In 2013 the organization was represented by Olivia Wilde and received a portion of the $1.6 million in grants given by the HFPA that year. 2016 in the amount of $10,000.
In 2015, the organization received a grant from the $4.5 million given to the Los Angeles arts scene from Michael Bloomberg Philanthropies. Jane Fonda's, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, has also provided funding.
Young Storytellers' annual fundraiser, "The Biggest Show," invites actors and comedians from film and television to perform their student's screenplays. In 2014, student screenplays were performed by Rob Corddry, Max Greenfield, John Cho, Alison Brie, Jillian Bell and Stephanie Beatriz. Corddry stated, "[the program] is kind of mythical in this world that I run in. You can't have a bad time. There's no pressure. You can't fail. It's pretty much everything you want as an actor. It's pretty much everything I've been looking for my whole life". In 2016, when asked about "The Biggest Show," Seth Rogen said: "One of the main things that made me want to do it was to encourage these kids to continue to do this stuff. I was not the type of person that would persevere through discouragement at that age."
2015 Biggest Show
- Keegan-Michael Key
- Jack Black
- Judy Greer
- Max Greenfield
- Tom Lennon
- Jason Mantzoukas
- Stephanie Beatriz
2016 Biggest Show
- Jordan Peele
- Seth Rogen
- Tony Hale
- Thomas Middleditch
- Martin Starr
- Nasim Pedrad
- Charlie Day
- John Cho
- Max Greenfield
- Danny Pudi
- Busy Philipps
- Yvonne Orji
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- THR Staff. "ROB CORDDRY, MAX GREENFIELD AMONG ACTORS PERFORMING SKITS BY GRADE SCHOOL SCREENWRITERS". Pret-A-Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "Seth Rogen, Tony Hale and Jordan Peele will perform short plays written by fifth-graders". Los Angeles Times. 2016-10-18. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- Littleton, Cynthia. "Keegan-Michael Key, Max Greenfield Set for Young Storytellers' Biggest Show Fundraiser". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 14 September 2016.