An educational nonprofit dedicated to introducing new audiences to their literary heritage, People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos runs programs in residential treatment facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, libraries, and senior centers. By engaging people in dialogues about literary short stories, the organization encourages vulnerable adults and youth to explore their life experiences while building confidence and important cultural competencies. A series of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities has helped People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos expand into new states and reach new audiences. Additionally, in 2020, the NEH awarded the organization a CARES grant to help it manage the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What meant the most to me was someone finally allowed you to express the way you feel about things and how you could relate to a story.”
People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos programs help participants engage in the kinds of conversations that normally take place in college classrooms. At the same time, they empower participants to speak about their experiences and see that they have valuable knowledge. As one participant explained, “What meant the most to me was someone finally allowed you to express the way you feel about things and how you could relate to a story.” A youth participant in the program recalled, “I got a sense of truth and serenity.”
In addition to reaching new audiences in new states, People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos is using NEH funding to ensure that the programs have a life beyond the eight-week sessions it sponsors. A full-time public humanities associate, funded with an NEH grant, is helping the organization build capacity. In addition to helping new locations find revenue sources so that they can continue the programs, People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos is creating new training workshops and materials, which will help coordinators continue to use the organization’s method.