Hello – We are Story Factory
Founded in 2012, Story Factory is a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people aged 7 to 17,
from under-resourced communities.
Reading is access. But WRITING is agency.
At Story Factory, we know that stories have the power to change lives. Research shows that quality arts-based learning significantly improves social and emotional wellbeing. Our storytelling workshops have been designed by creative writing and literacy experts to build literacy, confidence, and creativity: essential skills young people need to shape their future.
We only work with young people from communities that are under-resourced.
To find out more about the many creative writing and storytelling programs we run, visit our Programs page.
Want to get involved?
There’s more than one way to work with Story Factory to champion literacy, opportunity and confidence.
Story Factory works closely with a committed group of volunteers and their impact is nothing short of magical. One-on-one time with young people as a volunteer writing tutor has a powerful impact. Ongoing, regular encouragement and support for the brave work of writing down your thoughts and ideas is rewarding for both students and volunteers and the impact can be life-changing.
As a financial supporter.
You might not be able to make the time commitment to volunteer, but when you sign up as an Inkwell supporter, your monthly support means we can offer our life-changing programs free of charge and your regular support lets us plan ahead and commit to helping the students who need it most.
Be an advocate for literacy online.
Get in touch
Every day at Story Factory we see incredible leaps of imagination, moments of connection and bold strides forward in storytelling from our students. For a window into their stories and our work, sign up below to receive our monthly enews.
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A Few Things About Us
- Since our launch in 2012, we have taken over 25,000 student enrolments. We work with as many as 900 young people a week, and 6,000 a year.
- We work with young people most at risk of low literacy. Our priority is young people from Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse and lower socio-economic backgrounds.
- We run creative writing workshops all across Sydney, Western Sydney and NSW – free of charge.
- We adhere to the National Principles of Child Safety, and you can read our Story Factory Charter of Rights, policies on social media and online engagement and our code of conduct for staff and volunteers at the links here.
Explore the links below and read about the positive impact of our programs through independent evaluations, our achievements to date, and our BIG plans for the future.
Our Inspiration: Dave Eggers and Valencia 826
In 2002, novelist Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Caligari founded 826 Valencia, a creative writing centre for under resourced young people in San Francisco. The impact of 826 quickly spread across the USA, inspiring the launch of seven more 826 chapters in places including New Orleans, Boston and Brooklyn, New York.
It wasn’t long before this momentum lead to the opening of similar creative hubs all around the world. These include The Ministry of Stories, in London, established with help from Nick Hornby; Fighting Words in Dublin, established with Roddy Doyle; 100 Story Building in Melbourne, and of course, Story Factory.
How Story Factory Began
In 2011, Sydney Morning Herald journalists Cath Keenan and Tim Dick visited 826 Valencia in hopes of finding a solution to the growing concern about literacy rates and limited creative opportunities among marginalised children.
Cath and Tim spent a week immersing themselves in 826 workshops as volunteer tutors and learning all about the 826 philosophy. Once home, they consulted widely with educators, young people, parents, writers and the broader community on how to adapt the 826 model to local conditions.
In February 2011, the Story Factory founding board was established, including chair Michael Gonski, a solicitor and leading young philanthropist; Professor Larissa Behrendt, who lent her expertise in Indigenous education; and Professor Robyn Ewing AM, an expert in creativity in education. In April, our very first volunteer meeting was held with 200 willing people turning up – a flash mob before flash mobs were even a thing.
Support was garnered from prominent writers, including Peter FitzSimons and Markus Zusak and in May 2011, the Story Factory was launched by then Governor, Professor Marie Bashir, at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, to a capacity crowd.
Eighteen months after the first spark of inspiration, in July 2012, the Story Factory was officially opened by Her Excellency, The Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir at 176 Redfern St, Redfern.
For the first couple of years the focus of our work was Redfern/Waterloo but over time we were increasingly asked to work in Western Sydney. To support this work and our ongoing commitment to working across all 7 LGAs in Western Sydney, we opened a second creative writing centre in Parramatta In October 2018.
Together with more than 50 other organisations around the world, we are part of the International Alliance of Youth Writing Centers – a coalition inspired by 826 and united by a common belief that young people need places where they can write and be heard, and where they can have their voices polished, published, and amplified.