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Diversity Imperative Launches First Group of Grantees with Purpose-Driven Certification

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling

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In January of 2023, BrandStorytelling launched its Diversity Imperative to support the career track of under-represented individuals desiring a fair chance to participate in all aspects of brand storytelling. Directors, videographers, editors, and producers looking to make their mark in the brand storytelling space were granted free access to participate in the program, which is striving to actively and effectively balance the workforce so that the stories brands tell are created by individuals that fairly represent our societal and cultural makeup.

Last week, as part of the BrandStorytelling Diversity Imperative, twenty grantees completed BrandStorytelling’s first-of-its-kind course in purpose-driven brand storytelling, earning professional certificates for completing the coursework that included presenting an answer to a Request for Proposal from course sponsor GoDaddy.

“Our certification experience served as the perfect connective tissue for our Diversity Imperative,” said Stephen Marshall, Director of BrandStorytelling+ and facilitator of BrandStorytelling’s educational course program in partnership with East Tennessee State University. “Participants worked collaboratively with each other as well as members of our community to not only learn the foundational components of purpose-driven brand storytelling, but they applied the concepts and pitched ideas for a real brand RFP from GoDaddy. It’s a winning formula for all involved.”

Immediately evident in their presentations was proof of the concept that pulling in filmmakers from diverse backgrounds would result in RFP’s that represented a variety of communities and experiences. Inclusive perspectives and new thinking led to a broader variety of responses to the work, much of which was deeply attuned to today’s cultural landscape.

“There’s so much to be proud of with this cohort,” said Rachael Powell, Sr. Director, Global Brand, Creative & Research at GoDaddy. “What struck me the most was the students’ abilities to find and leverage true consumer insights into their pitches, paired with their willingness to put themselves out there. These two elements combined pushed GoDaddy and the other participants’ thinking.”

The Diversity Imperative grantees have now been paired with industry executives who serve as their sponsors, representing and advocating for them to participate in the production of real-world brand-funded content and entertainment for brands.

“Sponsors are critical to continue the grantee training,” said Sarah Colamarino, corporate brand storytelling veteran and leading supporter of the Diversity Imperative. “These are accomplished professionals who volunteer their time for mentoring as well as create access to potential opportunities.”

Next steps include positioning the diversity imperative grantees to execute on their learnings from the Brand Storytelling Purpose-Driven Certification course to demonstrate to brands making content what the educators and sponsor behind the certification course learned from the grantees: that inviting marginalized voices into the creative production space can shake up the way brands approach their audiences with new creative.

“I learned I know a lot about this space as a creative, and I also learned that I need to be more aware of the information brands need to feel comfortable in this space,” shared Eternal Polk, a writer/director who earned his certification as a grantee participant in the recent purpose-driven course cohort. “I learned the brand’s ‘love language’ so to speak. This helps you connect the dots from their desires and goals to your project, film, or experience.” Polk went on to share his hopes for the diversity imperative grantees of the future. “Hopefully future participants will get the intangible benefits, such as knowing they’re not alone with challenges, ideas, and peers trying to figure it out. Hopefully they’ll connect with a few people and start to create and add on to this community of folks.”

Congratulations to these creatives that have just earned the first certificates in Purpose-Driven Brand Storytelling:

*pending certification


The Diversity Imperative is an open industry initiative that both organizations and individuals can participate in. For more information and to get involved, email


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