Parents as Disruptors: Digital Storytelling Project

Participate in a Digital Storytelling Workshop Sponsored by The Parents as Disruptors Project at DePaul University!


The Parents as Disruptors project, organized by faculty and staff at DePaul University, brings together parents from across Chicago to share their strategies for parent-led advocacy and organizing. As part of the project, we are looking for two or three organizations with a mission to develop parent-leaders to each send 2 or 3 parent-leaders to a multi-day digital storytelling workshop. In the workshop, each parent-leader will create a personal, digital video about their experiences as a parent advocating for their child and organizing to address educational inequality.

The digital storytelling workshop will happen over one 2-hour introductory session and two six-hour workshop days in mid-February through early March 2018, and will be facilitated by DePaul Professor Lisa Dush and the students in her winter 2018 Digital Storytelling course. The workshop offers participants the chance to write a script that narrates a personal story about parent leadership, to revise this script in a facilitated, workshop setting, and to learn the basic video-editing techniques necessary to make a 2-4 minute video.

The workshop is a rewarding experience for participants—who have the chance to tell a meaningful personal story and learn digital production skills—and typically yields videos that can be powerful tools for organizational advocacy, education, and fundraising. After the digital storytelling workshop and with the consent of those involved, the Parents as Disruptors project will share the digital stories through a website and community showings, so that these stories can spur discussions and parent-led action throughout the city.

If your organization has a mission to develop parent-leaders and can identify 2-3 parent-leaders that would be interested in this opportunity, please read the project details below and submit an Expression of Interest form by December 1, 2017.

What is a digital story?

A digital story is a 2–4-minute video, comprised of a self-narrated story illustrated with personal photographs. Importantly, a digital story is produced by its storyteller, in a facilitated workshop setting.

The story below, “Our Neighborhood is Not a Dumping Ground,” is a digital story that was made by a member of the REACH Coalition, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working for health equity. The story’s narrator, Debra, describes her experience of living in a Boston neighborhood that has long been a site of illegal trash dumping. The video has the key characteristics of a digital story: a well-crafted, self-authored and self-narrated personal story, illustrated with images selected by the storyteller.

All workshop participants can expect to learn the following:

  • The history of digital storytelling and the elements of a great digital story
  • How to write and revise a compelling personal story
  • How to give feedback on others’ stories in a facilitated Story Circle
  • How to audio record and edit a digital voiceover
  • How to prepare images and storyboard a video
  • How to combine audio and still images in video-editing software and produce a 2–4-minute digital story

How does this partnership work?

Digital storytelling is a rewarding, yet intensive process. Workshop participants should expect to devote approximately 20 hours to the process from mid-February to mid-March 2018, including 14 hours of face-to-face time and approximately 5 hours of independent writing and photo-gathering. We request that our partner organizations identify 2-3 parent-leaders (we can accommodate both English- and Spanish-speaking parents) who are excited to tell a personal story and who can commit to attending all workshop sessions.

We are willing to work with interested organizations to identify specific times within the mid-February–early-March window that work for all, although substantial production work must happen in two Friday and/or Saturday sessions, to accommodate the DePaul students’ schedules. We are also open holding the workshop in a community lab space central to participating organizations, if this is more convenient than DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

Three possible dates for the production workshop are as follows (and slight variations on these options are also possible)—the Expression of Interest form asks you to identify those options that will work best for your parent-leaders:

  • Option 1: F Feb. 9, 1-3 pm, Introduction Session + 2 Workshop Days on F Feb. 23 and F March 2 (9-3 pm both days)
  • Option 2: M Feb. 12, 6-8 pm, Introduction Session + 2 Workshop Days on Sa Feb. 24 and Sa March 3 (9-3 pm both days)
  • Option 3: F Feb. 9, 1-3 pm, Introduction Session + 2 Workshop Days on F Feb. 23 and Sa Feb. 24 (9-3 pm both days)

In addition to these face-to-face obligations, participants will be asked to send interim drafts to their student team and to attend a community showing after the project is complete.

Food and child care will be provided on all workshop days, and participants will receive a $300 stipend.

Your organization should also plan to allocate staff time to help coordinate the project; we anticipate this work will be a combined total of 2-3 hours per week, between late-January and mid-March.

My organization is interested! What do we do next?

If your organization wants to participate, please fill out the Expression of Interest form by December 1, 2017. After you submit this form, it will be sent to Prof. Dush and the Parents as Disruptors team. We will update all who have expressed interest by December 8, and we hope to finalize participants by December 15.

If you have any questions about the project, you may send them to Prof. Lisa Dush at

Additional details about past nonprofit partnership courses run by Professor Dush are available online at