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Change the Narrative

Change the Narrative Fellowship Program

In 2020, WOMEN’S WAY received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Voices for Economic Opportunity Challenge to design, implement and test the Change the Narrative Fellowship Program. The Program seeks to change the predominant narratives of women and poverty by using a women-led, bottom-up, intersectional approach that focuses on the voices and stories of diverse women with lived experiences of poverty. The fellowship trains and empowers women with the lived experience of economic insecurity to share their personal stories through professional-level audio, visual, and print. The purpose of the program is to generate awareness of racial and gender inequities in economic opportunity and spur actions among the public and private sectors that improve economic security in the Philadelphia region. Ultimately, fellows’ stories will be widely promoted and easily accessible through partner organizations, and fellows will convene with journalists, policymakers and philanthropists to identify actions to improve the economic security of women and their families.

Fellowship Goals:

By the end of the Fellowship Program, the fellows will:

  • Demonstrate increased confidence and knowledge about engaging, speaking up and sharing their stories with media, funders and policymakers.
  • Demonstrate increased understanding of how to use a narrative change framework to effect social change in their communities and/or organizations.
  • Establish new relationships with, and opportunities to influence, representatives from media, philanthropy, and government.
  • Have more opportunities to accelerate their leadership capabilities by being part of a peer support network.

Key Fellowship Components:

The 6-month Fellowship program includes:

  • A series of storytelling workshops
  • Additional workshops on narrative change, drivers of the gender wealth gap, advocacy and community organizing, communication skills/public speaking, and interacting with media, funders and policymakers
  • One-year membership to PhillyCAM. Learn more here.
  • Opportunities to network with media, funders, and policymakers;
  • Optional process groups
  • Peer-peer learning and mentoring

First Cohort- Completed in June 2021

The first fellowship cohort was in January-June 2021 during which 8 women completed the program. Learn more about the fellows and read their bios here.

Below, you can read and watch the stories of the fellows in our first cohort!

Stories of Lived Experience Experts: Listen and Learn


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***The Fellowship is supported by a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge.

Looking to the Future

GWI will conduct a fellowship program every year for women who live in Philadelphia and the 4 surrounding counties, and in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties of Southern New Jersey. GWI will also build the capacity of organizations located outside the Greater Philadelphia region to implement the Fellowship Program for women in their communities.. By 2026, 210 women will successfully complete the Fellowship and an online repository of 210 stories will be established and easily accessible for distribution.

Second Cohort: January 2022 -June 2022

The next Fellowship Program will start in January 2022. The application process will open in October 2021.

For more information about the Program and application process, please contact Kelly Sheard at ksheard@womensway.org