What stories do you have to tell? What stories do you want to hear from others? How do we make our stories matter?

Stories Matter Foundation was founded in 2018 to build communities of storytellers trained to question, explore, celebrate, and change their worlds using the power of story.

We do this through our scholarships programs and the Chicago Stories Project. With your help, we can grow these programs and bring to life more of the stories we need to hear – something we deem more important now than ever before. 

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Dana Wood Chaney was one of StoryStudio’s brightest lights, a wonderful novelist, an award-winning short story writer, and the inspiration behind so many of our classes and events.

The Stories Matter Foundation awards the Dana Wood Chaney Writers Fund as a $1,500 tuition grant to a student who is working on a novel, memoir, short story, essay collection, or poetry that addresses social change. A description of what “socially engaged prose” means, including examples of classic and contemporary novels, can be found on the PEN/Bellwether Prize website.

This student may use their grant towards any StoryStudio Chicago classes, the Writers Festival, StoryBoard, Manuscript Consultations, or visits to the Writers Room. If the class is application-based, you must be accepted before applying the grant funds. 

To be considered for the grant, click the “Apply” button below and submit an application, including a 5-page excerpt of your work. Deadline is February 23, 2024.


Each term, we offer limited scholarships and tuition discounts for our writing classes. Various single-session classes will offer free seats, and various multi-week classes will offer a range of discounted tuition seats. All are financial-need based. If you’d like to claim one, please see our list of courses for available offerings. Please consider donating, as well, to help us provide these seats to writers at every stage of their writing life.


A former Novel in a Year student of Rebecca Makkai, Doro Boehme was a beloved writer by many. She passed away in 2020, and in honor of her we’re pleased to offer the Doro Boehme Scholarship Fund, a $500 grant to students accepted into any of our In-A-Year programs. Writers applying to the program can indicate they’d like to be considered for the grant. This fund helps writers working on their book-length projects.

Ryan Joseph Letcher was a former Novel in a Year student who passed away in 2022. He was dedicated to creating stories, characters, and projects that offered an authentic glimpse into the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals and their diverse communities. His family hopes this fund, which provides a fully funded scholarship to a project with LGBTQ+ themes, will inspire others to tell and create their own stories, and that it will continue to offer opportunities for LGBTQ+ writers and voices here in Chicago.

Every summer, StoryStudio Chicago is proud to offer multiple week-long Youth Creative Writing Summer Camps. We offer multiple weeks of workshops for various age groups. With our talented instructors, young writers can expect to learn elements of writing, build friendships and community with fellow peers, and get feedback on their creative works.

Stories Matter Foundation is pleased to offer full tuition scholarships to students in each session. Your donation will help cover the full cost of attendance and bring a young writer to StoryStudio for one of our summer camps, designed to unleash the creativity and potential of young writers.

Each year, the StoryStudio Writers Festival focuses on exploring and developing the craft of writing along with key information on the publishing world. We round it all out with evening activities, roundtable lunch conversations, and gatherings over coffee.

Our Writers Festival sells out quickly but we save a number of spots for those who need financial assistance. Consider donating to help an aspiring writer attend panels lead by prominent authors and build community. 

We are pleased to be a sponsor for the Chicago Asian Writers Workshop. Chicago Asian Writers Workshop (CAWW) is a creative writing workshop for Asian diasporic writers and writers of color based in Chicago and the Midwest. It was founded in summer 2020 by writer and bookseller Amélie Ng Pavel.