Nine Years After Its Initial Grant, Carnegie Corporation Report Recounts StoryCorps’ Own Story

Grantees in this story

A new report details how one grantmaking foundation’s early funding for StoryCorps helped initiate the project, giving it a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” which in turn attracted the support of additional funders; a second grant some years later enabled the organization to help New Yorkers reflect on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The report, StoryCorps: Sharing the Story of American Lives, examines the impact on StoryCorps of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s modest but important 2003 seed grant, which allowed an organization that was then struggling to stay afloat to continue pursuing its mission of inspiring Americans to record the meaningful events of their lives in sound, and to provide them with an easy and accessible way to make those recordings.

The current popularity of StoryCorps seems light years away from 2003, when Carnegie Corporation made its first grant to an organization that was having difficulty getting people to tell their stories in a mobile recording facility set up at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. “Actually getting people to sign up and go to the booth was a struggle in the early days,” founder and President Dave Isay recalled. But a number of years later, he marveled, “I was in Los Angeles on a book tour. And someone raised their hand and said, ‘I made a reservation to go to StoryCorps’ [mobile booth] in L.A. …seconds after reservations opened, and I was number 1,500 on the waiting list.”. “It’s really come a very long way since just eight-and-a-half years ago.”

The report examines the grantmaker’s rationale for its initial and subsequent support of the project which, though outside of its funding categories, nevertheless reflected founder Andrew Carnegie’s faith in strengthening democracy and supporting free libraries—as all recordings are archived in the Library of Congress.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation's work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.  For more information visit:

About StoryCorps

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories. Each week, millions of Americans listen to StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition. StoryCorps has published three books: Listening Is an Act of Love and Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, and All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps—all of which are New York Times best sellers. For more information, or to listen to stories online, visit