WUFT Partners with StoryCorps to Launch StoryCorps Connect, Bringing Individuals Together to Conduct and Record Remote Conversations with Loved Ones Across Generations

Free Online Platform Developed in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Powered by Vonage Aims to Counteract the Isolating Effects of Social Distancing

WUFT is partnering with StoryCorps, the national non-profit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of people of all backgrounds and beliefs, to launch StoryCorps Connect. The new free platform allows Americans to conduct and record StoryCorps interviews remotely. WUFT encourages residents of north central Florida to utilize the technology to connect with loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and, in the process, to contribute to the creation of a unique first-person historical record of this unprecedented crisis. The conversations are preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and become instantly accessible and shareable through the StoryCorps Archive. WUFT plans to broadcast edited versions of select submissions from its local communities.

Powered by global business cloud communications provider, Vonage, through the Vonage Video API, StoryCorps Connect is a public service platform to bring loved ones together amidst a global public health crisis. StoryCorps Connect aims to connect generations, offer a source of comfort and meaning to elders who may feel isolated and alone, and, in the process, preserve the wisdom of humanity. StoryCorps Connect launched in April at www.storycorpsconnect.org in public beta.

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has brought more than 600,000 Americans together—two at a time—to record intimate, face-to-face conversations about their lives, create human connection, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future. It is the largest single collection of voices ever gathered. The organization began developing StoryCorps Connect in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, motivated by the belief that at this time of physical separation, StoryCorps can provide a critical public service to increase connection to others and reduce the impact of isolation, particularly on vulnerable populations in this country.

Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps, said, “Social distancing is the exact opposite of the StoryCorps ethos, which strives to bring people together and acknowledge and celebrate our common humanity. At this time of physical separation, the StoryCorps interview methodology is a more essential tool than ever before for bringing us together.”

StoryCorps is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people.

“Our nation’s young people care about the plight of seniors in isolation, sometimes without family with which to connect,” said Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “CPB is proud to support StoryCorps Connect—America’s virtual storytelling peace corps, to ensure that at this tragic time in America’s history, we are able to meaningfully connect with one another.”

“The nation is facing an extraordinary crisis and collectively facing a defining moment,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Americans are resilient and we will come out of this stronger with stories that will highlight our spirit and strength.”

StoryCorps Connect uses advanced online videoconferencing technology built using the Vonage Video API and wraparound instructional tools to give participants a free, high-quality platform to record StoryCorps conversations remotely.

“At Vonage, we believe in the power of communication to connect people and we work everyday to build solutions that do just that,” said Omar Javaid, President of Vonage’s API Platform Group. “We’re proud to support StoryCorps Connect through the use of our Video API, which makes it easy to build a custom video experience within any mobile, web or desktop application. During this challenging time when people want to be together but social distancing is the best thing for everyone, Vonage and StoryCorps are bringing people together around the world. We feel good to be a part of that.”

StoryCorps is working with national partners including the American Library Association, and with public media organizations, school districts, teachers, and others across the country to bring StoryCorps Connect to the American people, and to call on the country to honor the stories of our elders at this momentous point in our history. While StoryCorps is a U.S.-based effort, StoryCorps Connect interviews can be conducted by anyone, anywhere in the world.

“Libraries are archives of human experience. We welcome this partnership with StoryCorps that will allow for the archiving of stories that speak to our collective endurance and resilience in real time. ALA is committed to engaging libraries and the communities they serve nationally in this opportunity to bear witness to their experiences during this extraordinary time. We hope to help foster wide participation, because in our darkest moments sharing stories provides a source of light,” said Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director, American Library Association.