Story Squad will use Heineman Foundation gift to continue building digital folktale library

February 5, 2018

Story Squad, a literacy initiative led by SILS Associate Professor Brian Sturm, recently received a $31,000 gift from the Heineman Foundation. The gift expands the foundation’s previous support for Story Squad’s efforts to establish a Folktale Storytelling Digital Library (FSDL) and measure the value of video storytelling for children.

Story Squad members in Manning Hall.
Members of Story Squad pose with the organization’s logo recently
in Manning Hall. Front row, from left: Amelea Kim, Lauren Li,
Jasmine Jackson. Back row, from left: Brian Sturm, Jim Curry,
Vennela Medapati, Areej Hussein. Not pictured: Emily Cameron.  

“We have a vision for bringing folktale storytelling back to communities, schools, and libraries across the nation to help motivate young children to pick up books and read,” said Sturm. “The Heineman Foundation’s generosity will enable us to hire more student storytellers to create the video content, and an information science student to help us design the webpage and searchable web database that will be the backbone of FSDL.”

Sturm said he and the Story Squad members also intend to create a curriculum guide to help teachers understand the roles folktales can play in youth education and meeting the various curriculum standards within which teachers work.

Launched in 2011, Story Squad is designed to help young children gain pre-literacy skills, enable older children to develop a concept of story structure and build visual literacy skills and imagination, and help older adults retain their mental agility and imagination, as well as encourage them to reflect on their lives from new perspectives. Story Squad members visit local churches, libraries, senior centers, and other community hubs to tell stories throughout the area.

For more information on Story Squad, visit