Meet The Pop Culture Collaborative’s Leadership Team

You have likely heard from us over the past year about how we’ve been exploring a large-scale culture strategy to harness the power of pop culture for social change. We are thrilled to share with you the emergence of the Pop Culture Collaborative, which leverages the power of entertainment, advertising, and media to shift how people understand the present reality—and imagine the future—of American society. A first-of-its-kind philanthropic resource, the Collaborative will work to popularize authentic, just narratives about people of color, immigrants, refugees, and Muslims that together tell a powerful story of how we all belong in America.

The Collaborative’s formation represents a critical step forward in advancing the combined power of the entertainment, philanthropic, and social justice sectors to use pop culture strategies to create transformative change in the world. Programming will include strategic grantmaking, cross-sector convenings and relationship-building, funder learning and partnerships, and the commissioning of new research and insights.

Over the last few years, philanthropy has been investigating this space as a core strategic area for investment. The 2016 #PopJustice report series, supported by Unbound Philanthropy and Nathan Cummings Foundation and produced by Liz Manne Strategy, made the case for a multi-year fund to grow this emerging field.  

Throughout 2016, the Collaborative’s founding partners, including Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation and General Service Foundation, have come together to launch the five-year, $25 million fund. During this time, we engaged a talented team of thought leaders—including entertainment executives and artists, social justice leaders and culture change experts—to envision the purpose and shape of the Collaborative and identify a leadership team to advance this critical initiative.

We are incredibly excited to announce the exceptional leadership team who will drive the Pop Culture Collaborative’s game-changing work:

Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Executive Director

Bridgit is widely recognized as one of the foremost thought leaders in the culture change strategy field. A professional artist and strategist, she has dedicated her career to the relentless investigation of the potential of artists to drive cultural change in society, most recently as founder and President of Fuel | We Power Change and as a fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Learn more here.

Tracey Van Slyke, Strategy Director

Tracy has worked at the intersection of media and movement building for the last 17 years. Most recently, she was the director of the Culture Lab, which through rapid prototyping methodology, built programs and products to help social justice leaders quickly adopt and advance their ability to use pop culture strategies and storytelling to create a just and equitable world. Learn more here.

Jesse Moore, Lead Communications Consultant

Jesse is the founder of Common Thread Strategies and an established thought leader at the intersection of entertainment, activism and community empowerment. He has served as White House Speechwriter and Associate Director for Public Engagement as President Obama’s chief liaison to artists, celebrities and entertainment industry leaders working to advance social justice. Learn more here.

2017 is an important year for the Pop Culture Collaborative as it takes full shape with new leadership. In January, the Collaborative launched its ongoing rapid response grantmaking with support for HARNESS, a convening hosted by America Ferrera, Ryan Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama, that brought entertainment industry professionals together with social justice activists to catalyze partnerships and learning.

In the spring, the Collaborative will formally launch its major grantmaking program, which will include one-year and multi-year grants for organizations and individuals working across the pop culture and social change landscape.  It will also create and support in-person and online spaces for learning, sharing and strategy building among philanthropists, social justice, and pop culture leaders.

As the Pop Culture Collaborative begins to take shape with its outstanding new leadership team, we want to express our gratitude to the many people who were part of its origin: Liz Manne who opened our eyes to the opportunity and learning to do around pop culture as a lever for social change, and then assembled a team of experts to illuminate this strategic arena for the philanthropic sector in the #PopJustice report series; Maurine Knighton and Brandi Stewart for their early visions and contributions to #PopJustice and its recommendation of the collaborative; Sharon Alpert and Loren Harris’s leadership and Valerie Boucard’s dedicated support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation; Mik Moore and Sarah Vitti for producing the first #PopJustice learning exchange in New York; Ginger Daniel for her creation of the #PopJustice Executive Brief; and finally, Diane Espaldon’s powerful guidance to establish the collaborative, and the team of people who she worked with, including Norrell Thompson, and Brian Peterson and Ben Aase at CliftonLarsonAllen.


Taryn Higashi
Executive Director, Unbound Philanthropy

Pop Up: Introducing Pop Culture
Collaborative’s Rapid Response Grants

Dear Friends,

How are you holding up?

If you’re like us, this week, month and year have been incredibly tough. As a community committed to advancing justice and equality, we have come together to mourn the loss of life, civil liberties, and sanctuary far too often, and the past week has been no exception. At times like these, our friends and family may feel powerless to change things, but those of us in the culture change field know that now is precisely the moment when we most need to respond—to tell stories, spark conversations, challenge rhetoric and inspire revelations about the systems that divide us, the values that connect us, and the collective actions that can spur us towards a new, more humane way of life in America.

Today, we’re writing to let you know about a new resource designed to help you and others in our field drive this change.

The Pop Culture Collaborative is now accepting applications for our ‘Pop-Up’ grants program. These rapid response grants are available on a rolling basis throughout the year for any individual, organization or company working to harness the power of pop culture to create just, authentic narratives of people of color, Muslims, immigrants and refugees through TV, movies, sports, music and all forms of entertainment and mass media.

As many of you know, the Collaborative is a new, multi-million dollar philanthropic resource created by Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and General Service Foundation—all organizations committed to growing and experimenting with pop culture narrative strategies as powerful tools for change in the real world.

Together we have designed these grants to help leaders in justice movements, the arts, entertainment, advertising, academia, and technology respond nimbly to increasingly common assaults on pluralism and inclusion in our society. 

Here are a few details:

  • Pop Up applications are open all year on a rolling basis.
  • Pop Up grants range from $5,000 to $30,000.
  • Pop Up grants must have an imminent time-hook or a project timeline that can be completed within a four-month time frame.
  • Individuals with fiscal sponsorship, non-profit and for-profits are all eligible to apply.
  • Projects should aim to advance social change and authentic narratives in popular culture for people of color, immigrants, refugees and/or Muslims.
    • As we continue to establish our grantmaking infrastructure, we are starting out with a phased process for reviewing and accepting applications. Please see full ’Pop Up’ Grant Guidelines and Application Information and if you’re eligible and interested, Submit Your Idea. We will consider every idea, and notify you if we wish to receive a formal proposal.

      As we expand our network of grantees, partners and learning programs, we look forward to hearing about your inspired ideas and powerful experiments. We can’t wait to see who steps up—and how we can help!


      Bridgit Antoinette Evans     
      Executive Director       

      Tracy Van Slyke
      Strategy Director 

      The Pop Culture Collaborative is fiscally sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations.

    Get Involved

    Stay Connected.

    Get on our list and be invited to future events, learn more about the fund, and be part of the Collaborative.

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    Become a Funding Partner.

    The Collaborative seeks to raise $25 million over 5 years. Join Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ford Foundation, JPB Foundation, General Service Foundation + others.

    For more information, contact
    Diane Espaldon, Project Lead:

    INQUIRE + ENGAGE. Contact Diane Espaldon, Project Lead: diane@popculturecollaborative.org

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