Our Impact

How to share stories for social impact

Posted by Haley Glenn on August 26, 2020

This blog is part of an ongoing series spotlighting our Pacesetters and our Priority Suppliers companies. Is your organization interested in being featured? Reach out to Haley Glenn (hglenn@bostonchamber.com) for more information.

A Craigslist ad and a Canon camera

Seven years ago, Tariana V. Little, DrPH, sat in a graduate school class learning about how to use storytelling as an intervention for health behavior changes. Inspired by her studies, and driven by science, storytelling, and social justice, Dr. Little co-founded EmVision Productions with life partner, Jonas Meyer.

It started as an experiment. The team decided to offer their services on Craigslist for free with hopes of securing a few paid projects by the end of a three-month trial period. Before 90 days was up, they had met their goal and hit the ground running: investing in a website, buying more equipment, incorporating their business.

Her passion for “intentional creativity for social change,” (her life mantra) drove Dr. Little to begin EmVision Productions, with a vision for using what she coined “social impact storytelling™,” a method she honed during her doctoral studies at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Seven years (and more than a few Canon cameras) later, EmVision Productions has evolved into a prominent minority-led media boutique with a national reach, working with clients such as Brown University, Fiduciary Trust, Wellesley College, Mass General Brigham, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s The Jimmy Fund, and the Town of Chelsea.

Plugging into Pacesetters

Dr. Little and the EmVision Productions team first learned about Pacesetters in the fall of 2019 when Casey Baines, the Boston Chamber’s Senior Policy and Communications Manager, spoke on a panel about initiatives in Boston for businesses of color.

After the event, Dr. Little and her team "immediately saw it as another way to strengthen our business leadership, connect with larger organizational clients, and align ourselves with a respected, established brand in the Boston business community.”

Since connecting with Pacesetters, EmVision Productions has worked with Mass General Brigham and has been introduced to a few other Pacesetters participating companies.

EmVision’s five-year vision is to continue scaling and creating meaningful impact. They are hopeful that the potential connections created with the Pacesetters program will help them do exactly that.

Focusing on the future and turning obstacles into opportunities

In addition to their five-year goal of scaling up, EmVision Productions seeks to grow their philanthropic fluency in order to support clients who need media assistance in order to meet development goals. Dr. Little is a Young Philanthropy Fellow with The Philanthropy Connection, a women’s collective giving group in Massachusetts.

The EmVision team created a program, Community Portraits, where they partner with solopreneurs and small non-profits for pro-bono projects. This fall, they’re looking to formalize this process by launching a grant program, EmVisionary Grants, which will offer one-time grants (valued up to $15,000) for their video production services, with hopes to serve one or two small organizations each year.

The organization also shared about the challenges of the past few months and how they are striving to create despite the chaos coronavirus has caused. Dr. Little shares, “in the midst of a global pandemic magnifying inequities among marginalized communities, and national movements promoting social justice, we asked: 

What can we, as a media agency, do to help organizations that are committed to positive social change, have the representation necessary to understand how to best support their communities, and might need some help in getting to their next level of impact?”

Their answer? Leveraging the power of storytelling to amplify work that contributes to our world. During the difficulties of COVID-19, they teamed up with GreenRoots, Inc. to produce a fundraising video that helped raise over $1.2 million in its May 2020 debut, benefiting families in Chelsea, MA affected by the virus. When they noticed a lack of inspiring content, they created the #StayHopeful series, featuring eight Bostonians (from a 6th grade artist, to an entrepreneur, to a frontline worker) on reflections and visions for themselves and for the future considering the current situation.

As Dr. Little put it, “this year has solidified our view that success is possible by turning obstacles into opportunities.”

Their story began in 2013 with an ad on Craigslist, a Canon camera, and a passion for sharing stories. Seven years later, they’re growing every day to be better than ever. Our Pacesetter Priority Suppliers truly are setting the pace for something great.

To find out what the Boston Chamber is doing to advance economic opportunity within the city of Boston, learn more here. For more information on the Greater Boston Chamber’s Pacesetters Program, visit our specific page.