Photo Credit: Florian Schulz

Guidelines and Application

The Adam Kolton Storytelling Grant is a merit-based, unrestricted award of $20,000 to a practicing professional storyteller of exceptional talent and ability who has experience living in Alaska and who tells a uniquely Alaskan story. Additionally, Honorable Mention awards may be given.
Adam KoltonEstablished in memory of its late executive director, Adam Kolton, who dedicated his career to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and led the organization from 2017 to 2021, the Storytelling Grant aims to acknowledge the memory of Adam, who recognized the power of promoting stories from Alaska, including those shared by Indigenous Gwich’in partners and members of Alaska’s Tribal nations. In particular, Adam believed in the power of storytelling to create a meaningful and lasting memory of Alaska and its environment.

Read more about Adam’s impact on Alaska conservation here.

The award is open to artists and storytellers who are currently writing and/or performing their work, and it acknowledges that stories can be shared in a variety of formats in addition to spoken word, including photography, film or visual art. It will include a plan to work with Alaska Wilderness League to promote and distribute the awardee’s (or awardees’) stories.

The awardee will be an individual artist or storyteller (or team) who creates and/or performs their work. This work may range from experimenting with new approaches to carrying on the tradition of heritage storytelling. The awardee (or awardees, if applying as a team) will be expected to share an update on their work supported by this award via one interim report and one final report, in addition to participating in progress check ins with an Alaska Wilderness League staff person throughout 2024. Details regarding these reports, including deadlines, will be outlined in the award agreement.

Alaska Wilderness League’s mission is to “Protect Alaska's wild lands and waters by inspiring broad support for federal policy action.” The grant is supported by contributions made to the Adam Kolton Memorial Fund.

Please review the selection criteria below and the overview of guidelines before applying.

Applications will be accepted starting August 7 until midnight Alaska time, September 15. Applications can be submitted online here.

Learn about the inaugural recipient of the Storytelling Grant, Polly Andrews, in the League’s announcement of the award here and in an update blog here.

Brief interviews with top applicants may be conducted as part of the selection process, after the application deadline.

Funding decisions will be made in October, with applicants notified at that time regarding the status of their applications. Please contact Alaska Wilderness League at or 202-544-5205 with any questions.


  • Artistic excellence in traditional or contemporary storytelling as recognized by the artist’s community or the public
  • Storytelling background and experience of the artist in publishing and/or performing the art form
  • Artist’s continued dedication and exploration of his or her work, with an interest in sharing the stories with the Alaska community or the general public


  • 18 years of age or older
  • Former or current Alaska State residents who developed their art form after formative experiences in Alaska
  • Individual storytellers (or teams of up to four persons) who are the originators of the work


  • Students whose storytelling work is part of their degree program
  • Board members or staff of Alaska Wilderness League, members of the Adam Kolton Alaska Storytelling Grant Selection Committee or their immediate families


All applications will be submitted electronically and include samples of the storyteller’s work, via video or audio clips or in print. Applications will be reviewed and selected by a six-person Selection Committee made up of Alaska Wilderness League board and staff, and representatives of the Kolton family. Award finalists may be asked to participate in a brief interview as part of the selection process, after the application deadline.

The Committee will be asked to review all applicants through a lens of racial equity and consider geographic diversity and a range of styles, both traditional and contemporary.

Alaska Wilderness League believes in “Inclusion:  Fostering a sense of belonging by centering, valuing and amplifying the voices, perspectives and styles of those who experience more barriers based on their identities.”


1. An overall statement describing your storytelling practice. (400 characters or less)

2. A biography describing your life in Alaska and as a storyteller. Please provide details about you and your work, such as where you were born or grew up, training and highlights of your career. (3,500 characters or less, or up to 3 minutes of video/audio)

3. A personal statement as an introduction to your storytelling work. Please give an overview of its concepts and themes. This may include information about how your work developed, your vision, influences and inspiration. Please share how you currently promote or share your work with others. (3,000 characters or less, or up to 3 minutes of video/ audio)

4. Generally speaking, how do you envision using the money? Additionally, how will this award’s funding and recognition affect you and your practice? Will it impact how you create, share and distribute your work? (1,000 characters or less)

5. Upload resume(s) or an overview of you or your team’s professional experience, accomplishments, education, training and other information about your artistic/storytelling career or traditions. (Two pages or less)

6. Upload work samples. Please title your files with your name and document your work samples in the application form with date and other relevant information including location of a performance. (Maximum 10 minutes of video/audio, three pages of written samples, and/or up to 15 images)

Interested and eligible applicants can apply below. Please note that while you will be able to save your draft application, we encourage all applicants to create their responses to the application questions in a separate document and paste them into the form once they are complete.