TO CREATE A JUST AND PLURALIST SOCIETY, WE NEED TO REIMAGINE SYSTEMS AND TRANSFORM CULTURE.
Throughout America’s history, the most transformative political advances—from slavery abolition to Reconstruction, “I Have a Dream” to the election of Barack Obama, the DREAMers, Love Is Love, and the Movement for Black Lives—have been achieved by organizers, artists, and movements working together to awaken and harness people’s deep yearning to belong in a pluralist America. In each case, the cultural tug of war between belonging and exclusion sparked a portal moment—a cracking open of the public imagination—through which we can see a glimmer of the pluralist nation we could become.
Our nation is now in the midst of another such breakthrough: a once-in-a-generation moment when tens of millions of Americans are actively choosing to meet at the riverside, wade into the water, and begin the hard and delicate work of belonging together in a just society. With the 2020 election behind us, the COVID-19 pandemic challenging us to recommit to our civic purpose, and the killing of Black people by police still fueling widespread demands for structural change, important questions are moving to center stage: How will the American people respond to this call for transformation? Will we retreat back into the habits of exclusion and violence that stain America’s past, or will we step boldly on to the path towards a pluralist future?
The Becoming America Fund brings together entertainment, philanthropic, and social justice leaders to immerse millions of people in a galvanizing story of the pluralist nation we are becoming. The Fund supports artists, creative companies, social justice organizations, cultural organizations, consumer researchers, fandom organizers, and cultural strategists who are calling on Americans to reject the exclusionary systems that define our country’s past and present, and embrace the transformative ideas that can shape our future.
Developed in collaboration with hundreds of field partners over a two-year period, Becoming America centers the innovation of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), immigrant, and Muslim creators, organizers, strategists, and influencers, especially those who are women, trans, nonbinary, queer, and disabled.
Read the full announcement about the Becoming America Fund.
THE NARRATIVE NETWORK
Becoming America supports content production and distribution projects intended for mass audiences, including digital fiction and nonfiction videos, podcasts, multiplatform story experiences, games, pop songs and music videos, culture change campaigns, fandom activations, and direct investments in artists and social movement leaders who are helping audiences expand their imagination of what’s possible. These projects are bolstered by the Fund’s support of projects focused on audience research and critical field infrastructure that encourages collaboration and coordination among artists and social movements.
- Abundance. Artist and Cultural Strategist Amber J. Phillips wrote and produced Abundance, a short film in three parts— “Fat,” “Angry,” and “Queer”—that explores what it means to exist in this world as a Black, fat, queer person.
Grantee: Amber Abundance Productions
- Amplifier AR. Launched as part of the Every Day Is Indigenous Peoples’ Day campaign, this activist-driven augmented reality app transforms 2-D posters, stickers, and murals into art that comes to life to deliver a call to action.
- American We. Real-time audience research between August and November 2020 tracking how pop culture content was informing the pluralist or anti-pluralist instincts of mass audiences.
- ARRAY LEAP. The Law Enforcement Accountability Project is a propulsive fund dedicated to supporting artists and empowering activists as they pursue narrative change around the police abuse of Black people.
Grantee: ARRAY Alliance
- Artists Advancing Cultural Change Cohort. Three artists of Middle Eastern and North African descent will develop new pieces in mediums of their choice in 2021 that reflect their own experiences, illustrating the breadth and richness of MENA communities.
Grantee: Noor Theatre
- Becoming America Anthology Series. Comprising three different stories from three different writers rooms in different parts of the country, each exploring the humanity of life under duress, pain, and difference, the Becoming America Anthology series was released on What We Seee’s Facebook page in October 2020.
Grantee: Break the Room
- Becoming America Festival. A three-day virtual experience that took place from October 30 to November 1, 2020, across multiple social media platforms, with the goal of inspiring and engaging young people to vote.
Grantee: The Soze Foundation
- BLKTrans*+Whole. Created a IGTV gathering place for storytelling and practice featuring Black Trans* healing, arts, and spiritual justice practitioners.
Grantee: Acorn’s Center for Restoration and Freedom
- Bringing the Movement to the Ballot Box. Supported the commissioning of authentic and compelling storytellers to create work that helps mobilize young BIPOC, trans, immigrant, and/or disabled voters.
Grantee: The Center for Cultural Power
- Culture Surge. Developed a critical coordinating infrastructure for the culture change field (artist, influencers, strategists, and social justice movements) in advance of the November election.
Grantees: Harness | Marya Bangee, The League | Tracy Sturdivant, Center for Cultural Power | Favianna Rodriguez, and IllumiNative | Crystal Echo Hawk
- Daemon Cards. Developing and testing a new collectible card game as part of multiplatform, pop fantasy franchise that offers gateways into new worlds.
Grantee: GoGo Co | Filmmakers and television producers/writers Angela Robinson and Alexandra Martinez Kondracke
- Essential Americans. Producing micro-videos and a campaign aimed at contributing to a more expansive and imaginative concept of “belonging” in America in partnership with Co-Executive Producer Angela Bassett. The first video, “For Armetta” was released in March 2021.
Grantee: Moores + Associates
- Every Vote Counts – A Celebration of Democracy. In partnership with Harness, Global Citizen developed a nationwide television and digital broadcast special, which aired on CBS and on a range of streaming platforms on October 29th, 2020, and was co-produced by Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, and many others.
Grantee: Global Citizen
- Fierce song and music video. Released in January 2021, Fierce is a new dance single dedicated to the trans community. The song and upcoming music video are produced by Grammy-nominated Anthony Preston and features artists Angelica Ross, Ultra Nate and Mila Jam.
Grantee: A2 Productions | Grammy-nominated producer Anthony Preston, featuring artists Ultra Nate and Mila Jam
- GIF internet takeover. Curated and developed hundreds of gifs intended to help people share the idea that that we must cry no when we see injustice and build towards a new future.
Grantee: Into Action Lab
- Hard to Swallow. Nigerian immigrant, chef, and writer Tunde Wey explores the social and political implications of food consumption and production around the globe in this television series that will launch in late 2021.
Grantee: Run It Up Productions
- Inside Stagger Lee. Developing a podcast for a late 2021 launch that traces and reimagines the story of Stagger Lee, the archetypal big-and-bad black superhero, one of the most celebrated yet unknown figures in American mythology.
Showrunner: Will Abramson, Yours Truly Creative
Co-Creators and Writers: Hanif Abdurraqib and Zandria F. Robinson
- Joy to the Polls. A voter initiative that mobilized musicians and artists to perform roving concerts at polling sites across the country to motivate every single person to stay in line.
Grantee: Frontline Election Defenders
- “Latinas Make a Difference” Tour. From the economy and jobs to education, immigration, health and wellness, and more, She Se Puede gathered a diverse group of powerhouse Latinas to discuss these important topics on a week-long virtual tour leading up to the 2020 election.
Grantee: She Se Puede
- May 19th Project. An AAPI Solidarity social media content distribution campaign aimed at advancing the narrative of solidarity during May, AAPI Heritage Month.
Grantee: Walking Iris Media
- The Narrative Engine. Real-time audience research measuring how pop culture content is reaching and affecting audiences.
Grantee: futurePerfect Lab
- NationX. Launched an immersive, multiplatform storyworld project centered around a fictional society established in 1325 when a fleet of African traders sailing across the Atlantic goes off course.
Lead Designers: Aisha Shillingford and Terry Michael (Intelligent Mischief)
Creative Team: Shawn Taylor, Nazareth Hassan, Geoffrey Jackson Scott
- “912? What’s Your White Emergency?” a digital comedic video featuring Sarah Cooper, W. Kamau Bell and more, announcing a new emergency number, just for white people.
Grantee: Offsides Productions
- “Please Explain” YouTube Series. Define American teamed up with four influencers to create a series of explainer videos, targeting important audiences on YouTube on topics ranging from climate change to the border wall.
Grantee: Define American
- The People’s Inauguration. Created in partnership with Amplifier, The Revolutionary Love Project, The Soze Foundation, Dream Corps, and Sounds True, The People’s Inauguration called on everyday citizens to commit to the work of healing, reimagining, and rebuilding our country.
Grantees: The Revolutionary Love Project, Amplifier, and The Soze Foundation
- Radical Kindness Comedy Writers Room. Built a writers room to develop digital pop culture comedy projects centering the role of hope and the potential of human possibility.
Grantee: American University/Center for Media and Social Impact
- Radical Kindness Project’s “Live Kindness Comedy Show”. The Center for Media and Social Impact will develop a “Live Kindness Comedy Show” as part of its Radical Kindness Initiative, which merges creative comedy and grassroots organizing to bring people together through laughter.
Grantee: American University/Center for Media and Social Impact
- Recovery Recess. Organized artists and micro-influencers during the two-week Congressional recess to advance narratives and build public urgency for the Thrive Agenda, a blueprint for the future that tackles the multiple crises we face—economic inequality, public health, racism, and climate change.
Grantee: Center for Working Families
- Starfish Accelerator Storyworld Launch. Mass audience engagement and early fandom creation for two original pop culture projects:
* Laying Flowers.:.Setting Fires (cinematic poem from Amir Sulaiman)
* God Bless the Promise Land (a multiplatform story universe from artist and writer Vanessa Benton)
Grantee: Starfish Accelerator
- #TheTimeIsNow. Successfully changing—after years of pressure—the racist name of the Washington NFL football team, and forging bonds between Indigenous and Black communities exploring the legacy of white supremacy, including the issue of racist mascots, in order to build a shared vision for the nation’s future.
- “To See Each Other” podcast. A audio documentary series with host George Goehl that complicates the narrative about rural Americans in our most misunderstood, and often abandoned, communities.
Grantee: People’s Action
- “Traveling the Interstitium with Octavia Butler.” Created by five groundbreaking Black artists: Stephanie Dinkins, Yance Ford, Terence Nance, Sophia Nahli Allison, and Idris Brewster, this interactive WebXR experience transports audiences on a journey of imagination and self-discovery inspired by Octavia Butler’s work.
Grantee: The Guild of Future Architects
- 20th Anniversary of 9/11. Creating a new narrative for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by partnering with WikiEducation to train 20 diverse scholars to update and correct the highest trafficked Wiki pages about the September 11 attacks.
Grantee: Rethink Media
- “We Will Emerge” Essays. Four visionary authors – poet Natalie Diaz, journalist Jean Guerrero, novelist Laila Lalami and disability rights advocate Alice Wong – spoke directly to voters around the country in advance of the 2020 U.S. election.
Grantee: PEN America
- “What to My People is the Fourth of July?” a digital video narrated by original Hamilton star Daveed Diggs, inspired by Frederick Douglass’s historic speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
Grantee: Offsides Productions
- Ai-jen Poo
- Alicia Garza
- Elle Hearns
- Eric K. Ward
- Imara Jones
- Paola Mendoza
- Zahra Noorbakash
*This list is updated as of July 2021. Stay tuned for updates on new grantees.
The Story PortaL