The VOW Story Lab is a unique opportunity for storytellers working in the field of human rights to receive holistic support for oral history projects that amplify the voices of people directly impacted by contemporary injustice.

The Lab allows us to incubate and develop new projects by providing oral history training, editorial guidance, and project funding to a diversity of human rights storytellers in need of institutional support.

Launched in spring of 2016, the Lab supports projects from storytellers of all stripes, including journalists, novelists, scholars, educators, and advocates.

Our goals are to:

  1. Provide swift and reliable support for projects with the potential to:
    • amplify the voices of people directly impacted by injustice and
    • build power among impacted communities and contribute meaningfully to their movement work
  2. Promote ethical, empathy-based storytelling to illuminate human rights crises
  3. Ensure quality, innovation, and diversity in the stories VOW narrators tell



VOW Story Lab fellows receive oral history training, editorial guidance, peer support, and a small project stipend to develop sample narratives during a three-month pilot phase.


VOW Book Fellowships are awarded to select Story Lab fellows to support the full development of their project into a VOW book. Fellowships cover project expenses and a living stipend to support dedicated project time.


The VOW Story Lab is possible thanks to passionate people like you. Will you join us in supporting in-depth, human rights storytelling?

Become a monthly sustainer,
or make a one-time gift today


Call for Inquiries

Oral history is among the most egalitarian, accessible, and compelling forms of storytelling. It is also time and resource intensive, and many projects fail to grow due to lack of early institutional support. The VOW Story Lab is a unique opportunity for storytellers working in the field of human rights—including but not limited to journalists, authors, scholars, educators, and advocates—to receive holistic support for oral history projects. Story Lab Fellows engage in a three-month incubation period to conduct research and interviews, and to assemble initial narratives for a potential book project with VOW.


  • Project must focus on a contemporary, underreported issue that falls into one of the following categories: criminal justice, migration and displacement, or special initiatives*
  • Project lead must have a proven track record of writing on this issue, and of working with the impacted communities in question
  • Project lead must be in relationship with organizations or advocates within the narrator community
  • Project lead must be able to commit to an oral history training in March2018 alongside other Story Lab Fellows
  • Projects must develop three sample narratives over a three-month period between March and June 2018

*This category is for projects that fall outside the two core issue areas.


  •  $1,000 stipend to initiate their project
  •  Training in Voice of Witness oral history methodology
  •  Editorial support and guidance
  •  Consideration for publication on our website and/or relevant media outlet
  •  Consideration for further development into a VOW book project (and a book fellowship of $10,000–$15,000)


If you have a project idea that you believe aligns with VOW’s Story Lab priorities, please complete this survey. The LOI deadline is midnight EST, December 31, 2017. While we commit to reviewing all inquiries, given our small team and the volume of requests, we can only reply to those we intend to explore further.


Sharing Family Histories in Santa Fe

By |January 12th, 2018|Categories: Education, Sharing History Initiative|Tags: |

2016-2017 Germanacos Fellow Elizabeth Tidrick teaches World Literature at Monte Del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe, NM. With a high population of English language learners and immigrant students, Liz helps her students identify [...]

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Eight Years After the Earthquake, A Reflection on Life in Port-au-Prince

By |January 12th, 2018|Categories: Cultural and Personal Identity, Home and Belonging, Narrators, Poverty and Economic Rights, VOW Book Series|

Eight years have passed since a devastating earthquake shook Haiti on January 12, 2010. Today, we're honoring the anniversary by sharing excerpts from our book Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-au-Prince. The following stories give us a closer look [...]

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Razan Hussin: An Immigrant Student Inspired to Change Her Community through Oral History

By |December 26th, 2017|Categories: Borders and Boundaries, Cultural and Personal Identity, Education, Immigration|Tags: , , , , , , |

“There are times that I feel uncomfortable because of how people look at me as I’m wearing my headscarf. I’ve experienced some racism on campus.”—Razan Hussin, 19 Razan is a native Arabic speaker from [...]

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