Developing effective story-based tools for grantees

About the Project

The Marguerite Casey Foundation is deeply invested in bringing an equal voice to low-income families around the United States. Their grantmaking supports community organizing in some of the most remote, underfunded parts of the country, and they have committed the last few years to advancing their Equal Voice movement-building framework. When the foundation came to us with a desire to engage more young people in this vision, and the goal of using their self-produced documentary to get there, we perked up. We knew we needed a piece that would truly resonate with young audiences, so we conducted focus groups, hired a filmmaker-editor to do additional production work, and eventually repurposed the foundation’s original documentary into a 17-minute video we titled Maria Full of Hope. We worked closely with 25 of the foundation’s grantees to empower local youth to plan community screening events, geared toward involving more young people in social justice work and inspiring them to become more civically engaged.

Our Work

  • Campaign strategy development
  • Focus groups with young people in urban and rural areas
  • 25 youth empowerment events
  • Creation of comprehensive Youth Empowerment Toolkit
  • Production of youth-focused video, Maria Full of Hope
  • Website conceptualization
  • Capacity building among grantees to use storytelling in their work


  • Over two-thirds of participating organizations will continue to use our resources in their work
  • Increased interest in participation from young people to join local campaigns
  • Local partners successfully engaged previously unengaged community members
  • New collaborations in 25 communities

Maria Full of Hope



  • Youth Empowerment Toolkit

    This Toolkit is designed to help young people use Maria Full of Hope as a springboard to identify, understand, and influence the issues that are most important to them. It includes facilitation guidelines, discussion questions, exercises for personal reflection, and team building exercises. Download the toolkit here.

  • Event Planning Guide

    The Event Planning Guide is intended for groups interested in hosting a Youth Empowerment event, big or small, geared toward inspiring young people and giving them tools to identify, understand, and respond to the issues that mean the most to them. It provides event ideas, framing suggestions, background information, facilitator guidelines, and other tips. Download the guide here.

  • Educator's Guide

    This guide is designed to help educators take advantage of Maria Full of Hope and the Equal Voice Youth Empowerment Toolkit for classroom use. The format allows users to easily identify which sections of the Toolkit are right for them and customize their class sessions accordingly. Download the guide here.

  • Maria Full of Hope Website

    An online resource to inspire young people around the country, give them tools to identify and understand the issues that mean the most to them, and support organizations and educators who are devoted to engaging youth in communities nationwide. Check out the website here.