Survivors Truths, Inc.

aka Survivors' Truths   |   Los Angeles, CA   |  http://www.survivorstruths.org

Mission

Survivors’ Truths connects social service with social media for positive social change.

Our work is on the leading edge of a paradigm shift in how we support and talk about those affected by violence and discrimination. We use media creation as a tool to support survivors’ healing and then the media we co-create is shared to raise awareness, support people affected by similar issues, and inspire others to take action. By bridging the worlds of social service and social media and bringing the focus to the knowledge and strengths of the people we are helping, we provide direct support while promoting action and advocacy in a whole new way.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director

Ms. Dove Pressnall

Main address

PO Box 31443

Los Angeles, CA 90031 United States

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EIN

27-0324963

NTEE code info

Media, Communications Organizations (A30)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

PalaverNet

PalaverNet is a novel approach to applying communication technology in support of grassroots peace-building and violence prevention. In Liberian tradition, people would gather in the ‘palaver hut,’ to resolve community issues. However, years of war scattered people around the world. In literal and figurative ways, the palaver huts which were so central to civic and community life were destroyed.

The PalaverNet project is creating a “virtual palaver hut” with a particular focus on re-engaging people around wartime experiences that highlight cultural strengths and resources that can be brought to bear when the threat of violence re-emerges. It integrates word-of-mouth, mobile, web, and radio communications channels to link remote war-affected communities with the rest of the region and diaspora around the world in support of building sustainable ‘peace from within.’

PalaverNet is the next step in Survivors' Truths work developing innovative models for supporting peace and reconciliation in Liberia. Our first project, the photo-documentary project Trying to be all right in Liberia, uncovered Liberian resources for recovery in individual stories of survival. This project has already been well-received in and outside of Liberia and forms the foundation for PalaverNet’s social engagement component.

Structurally, PalaverNet is being designed as a locally-driven social enterprise that conceptualizes and ‘sells’ peace-building as a valuable service. Working closely with local program staff, we are designing strategies for targeting those businesses and entities that have a vested interest in stability - for whom instability has a measurable financial impact - as primary investors. We are also exploring ‘supporting peace’ as a marketing asset for a variety of businesses, creating branded membership for businesses who support PalaverNet.

Population(s) Served

TransYouth Speak mentors transgender youth and allies to produce media that brings awareness to their presence, rights, needs, and contributions in our community. Since 2011, Survivors’ Truths has been working in partnership with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ (CHLA) transgender services to facilitate media workshops, which have grown into a weekly Youth Leadership Development group. The youth define themselves as “...a group of transgender youth + allies creating social change through social media.” Their work can be found on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and StoriesFrom.us.

Population(s) Served

The U.S has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Mass incarceration has proven to be costly, ineffective for reducing crime, and devastating for families and communities. Survivors’ Truths, LA Myers Consulting, and Expressive Arts San Diego have come together to bring the voices of some of those most affected by criminal justice policy into the conversation. The Inside/Out Project is developing a nationwide network to carry out media creation workshops with current/recently incarcerated women, men, and youth as well as children with parents in prison. The media produced will be showcased at various events and distributed via online media/social media channels.

Population(s) Served

Survivors’ Truths is partnering with organizations such as the Corporation for Supportive Housing to help those who have been homeless speak up about who they are and what they have to contribute to our communities. They will bring to the forefront a discussion about what works to prevent and solve homelesness and why effective programs should be supported. Drawing on their own experiences, partners will address myths and stereotypes held by the general public regarding homelessness, the causes of homelessness and solutions to the problem.

Population(s) Served

Description: Strength in Story brings together a wide variety of stories from ordinary people about how they have overcome the odds, faced adversity and recovered from loss. Anyone can participate in this open project by creating a video and uploading it to Youtube. It will be shared on our website and the StoriesFrom.us platform.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Survivors’ Truths works to connect social service with social media to promote positive social change. We are committed to the idea that how and what people communicate profoundly shapes their lives, experiences, and options. Our participatory media projects focus on stories of survival and the resources people use to overcome their problems. In doing so, we uncover possibilities for understanding, healing and positive action that might otherwise be missed. We also leverage technology to increase participant access to media advocacy tools and increase the visibility of their stories and messages.

Survivors’ Truths takes an integrative, cross-disciplinary approach to addressing the needs of those affected by violence and discrimination. We bring together direct counseling approaches and participatory media strategies - using media creation as a healing tool and then leveraging that media to increase awareness and build support for those affected by social issues. This is all done through the lens of the ‘alternative story’ - challenging the notion of victims as helpless recipients of aid by intentionally seeking to bring out the strengths, knowledge, and resources of those affected. Survivors’ Truths understands that uncovering another part of people’s experiences—the stories of survival--creates space for individuals to recover, connect with others, and envision new possibilities for their lives.
The effects of this integrative, strength-based approach are multi-layered, benefiting the survivors directly engaged in creating the media, others affected by similar issues, and those who want to be supportive.
In the immediate future, Survivors’ Truths will continue to increase the impact of our work by improving the accessibility and visibility of our project media, building our network of collaborating organizations, launching our presence on the StoriesFrom.us platform, and re-vamping our website for streamlined media access and interaction. We are currently implementing a number of local projects to more fully demonstrate the model’s applicability for a range of groups and settings including the recently launched Inside/Out Project on incarceration and the Our Neighbors project on homelessness as well as expanding our existing Strength in Story and Liberian peacebuilding projects. Finally, we are strengthening our organization by building a stronger fundraising board that will allow us to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the work while ensuring future sustainability.

Survivors’ Truths has been very effective at building collaborative relationships and recruiting qualified and motivated volunteer staff. This has allowed us to carry out effective and innovative projects with very limited financial resources. A primary organizational goal is to build our shoestring budget into a strong financial base that will permit us to be more strategic and effective in our work while continuing to look for ways to leverage affordable and accessible technology in service of grassroots action.

Our Founder and Executive Director, Dove Pressnall, is a licensed psychotherapist and the Survivors’ Truths model of strength-oriented storytelling was developed from a rich body of knowledge and practice in the fields of narrative therapy and community psychology. We have connected with thought and practice leaders across sectors - from Tiziano Project to Google to Stanford University’s Peace Innovation Lab to access the technical expertise to effectively carry out the media component of our mission.

Survivors’ Truths has consistently been able to add value to the work of our partners and bring visibility to their efforts. In moving toward our long-term goals of organizational stability and increased impact, we have focused on creating partnerships with well-known and influential organizations such as the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University and the Coalition for Supportive Housing. These partnerships are supporting Survivors’ Truths in accessing grant and visibility opportunities that might otherwise not be available to a star-up nonprofit. As the organization continues to grow, we will be building on these opportunities to develop our own funding base.

Survivors’ Truths is already realizing our ultimate intended impact - shifting the conversations with and about those who need help towards an ethic of respect while building sustainable strategies to end violence and discrimination that are based in local knowledge and practice. Current projects represent an innovative, dynamic model for raising awareness and inspiring action in support of a group of people who have been marginalized and/or victimized by violence. The challenge of sharing our created media in a strategic, impactful way has recently been resolved with a partnership with the Tiziano Project’s StoriesFrom.Us platform.
Survivors’ Truths has gained visibility in various forums including Human Rights Watch, UNA, Northwestern University, and other events, challenging deficit-centered approaches and proposing rich new trans-disciplinary opportunities. Through appearances at various fora such as the Media Reform Summit and Bridging the Gap tech conference, we reach an ever-widening audience with the message that collaborating and valuing local knowledge leverages both financial and social resources for greater positive impact.
Like many nonprofit start-ups, we have been challenged in building and maintaining a fully engaged Board. We have recently made a strategic shift from recruiting people for a working Board to recruiting those ready to focus on fundraising and organizational development.

In terms of funding, we have found that submitting unsolicited grant proposals is not effective, so have been working on strategic relationship development in order to be invited to apply to foundations. In the next year, we will need to be able to hire both the Executive Director and an Operations/Program Manager. We are looking at alternative ways to fund key staff including fellowships and unrestricted donations and are actively pursuing these options. We also recently recruited a volunteer with expertise in Social Media Marketing to assist us in being more strategic with our online fundraising and more effective when going for the online ‘challenge’ type of funding.

The organization is shifting from a pure charity model to working from a social entrepreneurship perspective. While we have a track record of building effective partnerships with front line providers, we have begun framing our work with partners as a service that adds value to their programs. As a result current and potential partners such as Childrens’ Hospital Los Angeles and the Corporation for Supportive Housing are building funding for our work into their budgets.

Strategic relationships with VolunteerLA and local Universities help us recruit qualified and motivated volunteer staff. In 2012 our Human Resources Consultant set up our HR management systems, providing immediate help with volunteer management and preparing us for hiring paid staff.

Financials

Survivors Truths, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Survivors Truths, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 05/28/2013
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Dove Pressnall

Dove Pressnall

Rachel Ciupek-Reed

Sarah Boehmke

Ashford Summerville

Chipo Nyambuya