BIG We Foundation Awards $150,000 to a Diverse Group of Womxn Storytellers

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Nonprofit arts and cultural intermediary BIG We Foundation (BWF) has selected its second cohort of six SheStories grantees. This program assists Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Multiracial and femme-identifying womxn to create projects rooted in lasting and meaningful change through storytelling and narrative development. SheStories is an innovative program that has received funding from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company. The award was slated for four storytellers, but due to an overwhelming response of close to 400 applicants wanting to share their stories, BWF expanded its support and awarded two additional grants of $15,000.

Following an open call for applications this past September, a panel of community members selected the awardees based on the following criteria: personal exploration, aligned values, unheard stories and a clear call to action. Founder Anasa Troutman said, “As we think about the future and the ways the world is changing, storytelling is an incredibly transformative tool. As a foundation that is thinking about building beloved community, we must invest in the creators who bravely share their vision of the world where everyone is seen, loved, and cared for.”

The completion of SheStories projects is expected by early 2025. The third and final round of grants will open late this spring. For more information, visit

$30,000 Grantees

  • Rakhee Jain Desai (Texas): Rakhee is a multidisciplinary artist using textile/fiber, painting, installation, public art and moving images to tell personal stories within her community. Project: “Beyond The Sari,” is a compilation of intergenerational stories dedicated to capturing, preserving and sharing the lived experiences of South Asian women who migrated to Texas during the 1960s-1980s.

  • Shequeta Smith (California): Shequeta is a writer, director and graphic novelist whose work features powerful women. Project: A five-part docuseries exploring the history of Black women in comics and how it intersects with the film and gaming industry.

  • Anahi Nanjaro Jara (Washington): Anahi is an environmental justice advocate and oral historian. Project: “Pachamama Oral History Project: Las Mujeres del Terreno (The Women of the Land)” documents the impacts of climate change and machismo on the physical and cultural landscapes of agrarian women in Andean regions of South America curated via a multimedia gallery.

  • LeeAnn Morrissette (South Carolina): LeeAnn is a photographer, writer and filmmaker who is committed to documenting and amplifying the stories of Black people reclaiming what it means to live well and free from the wounds of generational land-based trauma. Project: “Revolutionary Nature of Making” is a documentary short that profiles an intergenerational collective of Black fiber artists based in Georgia who are reimagining and redefining their relationship with the ritual of making.

$15,000 Grantees:

  • Annette Hollowell (Louisiana): Annette is an entrepreneur, facilitator and lawyer specializing in community building, land stewardship and Black liberation. Project: “We Are the Promised Land” podcast depicts Black land legacies in the Mississippi Hill Country that centers on the Hollowell family and their land in Waterford, Mississippi. The story delves into how the family retained ownership of the land for over a century, exploring the compromises, sacrifices and risks involved.

  • Toni Blackman (New York): Toni is a rapper, writer and the first Hip-Hop Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Project: “Sacred Cypher: Why I Rhyme” highlights gifted women MCs from the Rhyme Like a Girl program. Despite diverse backgrounds, they share stories of dedication to music and culture while navigating responsibilities like caregiving, education, health issues and financial struggles.

*Womxn is an inclusionary term used to refer to cis-gender females and those who identify as femme.

About BIG We Foundation

BWF, a fiscally sponsored project of Movement Strategy Center, was founded by cultural strategist, writer and producer Anasa Troutman. Anasa has taught thousands of artists, organizers and leaders the power and practice of culture and narrative-based social impact strategies. Our work provides infrastructure and opportunities for high-potential, under-resourced communities. Through our three priority areas – Girls & Womxn, Restorative Economics and Environmental Wellness – BWF’s mission is to be and build beloved community. Our vision is to have a well culture where we can all experience sustained safety, love, joy and abundance.

Media Contact:
Addison Hare


SOURCE BIG We Foundation