TO CREATE A JUST AND PLURALIST SOCIETY…
With the 2020 election season underway, the COVID-19 pandemic challenging us to recommit to our civic purpose, and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, and many more reigniting widespread demands for deep structural change, we believe our nation is on the precipice of a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the American people to decisively choose to move in the direction of pluralism and justice.
When we emerge from these immediate crises, and begin to heal from and reflect on what this collective experience has laid bare, Americans will have the opportunity to ask: What society do we yearn to create and who can we empower to lead the way?
Read Executive Director Bridgit Antoinette Evans’ essay “Why I Wish I’d Never Watched The Handmaid’s Tale: A call for the pop culture stories America needs right now.”
…WE NEED TO TELL A GALVANIZING STORY THAT IGNITES PUBLIC IMAGINATION.
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, 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.
Becoming America centers the innovation of Black and Indigenous people, People of Color (BIPOC), immigrants, and Muslim communities, focusing on women, trans, nonbinary, queer, and disabled artists, influencers, activists, and thought leaders.
The fund was developed in deep collaboration with hundreds of field partners over a two-year period, through dozens of retreats, genius banks, national convenings, and virtual gatherings involving grantees, Senior Fellows, philanthropic peers, and our entertainment industry partners.
Read the full announcement about the Becoming America Fund.
MEET THE BECOMING AMERICA NARRATIVE NETWORK
Specifically, 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.
Becoming America funded projects include:
* This list will be continually updated with new grantees throughout 2020 and 2021.
Pop culture content and mass audience experiences
- Becoming America Anthology Series. Building writers rooms to develop a “made for social media platform” fictional anthology series that will tell connecting stories of how people forge bonds across class, geographic, and identity differences.
Grantee: Break the Room | Sameer Gardezi (East of La Brea, UntitledTrevor Noah Project, Modern Family)
- Becoming America Virtual Festival. Designing a daylong virtual cultural and civic engagement festival for a GenZ audience.
Grantees: The Soze Agency | Michael Skolnik, Michelle Minguez and Wise Entertainment | Mauricio Mota, Katie Mota, and Kathy LeBackes
- Comedy ThinkTanks: Building Solidarity through Hilarity. Building a writers room to develop digital pop culture comedy projects centering the role of hope and the potential of human possibility.
Grantee: Center for Media and Social Impact | CMSI Executive Director Caty Borum Chattoo (Author, A Comedian and an Artist Walk into a Bar) and Bethany Hall, Creative Director, CMSI Comedy Initiatives (The Chris Gethard Show, TruTV; 30 Rock)
- Daemon Cards. Launch of 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 (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, True Blood, How to Get Away with Murder, The L Word) and card game designer Dan Burdick
- Defining America YouTube series. Immigration-focused YouTube miniseries designed to test a new content offramp for “purple” audiences targeted by right-wing influencers.
Grantee: Define American (Immigration storyline consulting for Superstore, Grey’s Anatomy, more. Define American’s Jose Antonio Vargas and MTV’s produced documentary White People)
- Essential Americans. Producing a series of social videos that tell the story of the core role that essential workers play in our society and our future.
Grantee: Moore & Associates | Mik Moore (Halal in the Family, The Great Schlep)
- Fierce song and music video. Producing and premiering a music video for Fierce, a new dance single dedicated to the trans community.
Grantee: Transfolk | Grammy-nominated producer Anthony Preston, featuring artists Ultra Nate and Mila Jam
- GIF internet takeover. Developing and sharing hundreds of gifs designed to help people share the idea of crying no to injustice.
Grantee: Into Action Lab | Yosi Sargent (founder, Taskforce; 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” campaign)
- Nation X. Launching an immersive, multiplatform storyworld focused on Black liberation.
Grantee: 13exp | Shawn Taylor (Nerds of Color, Pop Culture Collaborative Senior Fellow), Aisha Shillingford and Terry Marshall (Intelligent Mischief), Nazareth Hassan (Dramatist Guild Young Playwright Award; Theatretreffen Stueckemarkt 2019); Mikhael Tara Garver (13exp); Geoffrey Jackson Scott (Peoplmovr)
- Offsides Digital Video Series. “What to My People is the Fourth of July?” narrated by original Hamilton star Daveed Diggs, plus more upcoming digital videos.
Grantee: Offside Productions | Josh Healey (YouTube’s The North Pole from Executive Producer Rosario Dawson); Yvan Iturriaga (Director / Producer); Calvin Williams (Movement Strategy Center); Safia Elhillo (Lead Writer, “What to My People is the Fourth of July?”); Adam Mansbach (Go the F*ck to Sleep); and Craig Robinson (Brooklyn 99, The Office); plus a collective of award-winning writers, actors, and comedians
- Starfish Storyworld Launch. Mass audience engagement and early fandom creation for three original pop culture projects: God Bless the Promise Land (multiplatform story universe), Burning Bayou (drama-based podcast), and Authentic (audio narrative essay).
Grantee: Starfish Accelerator | Mahyad Tousi (BoomGen Studios, forthcoming TV show The United States of Al, CBS) and Alesia Weston (Sundance Institute), Hollywood Reporter Exclusive: Accelerator Starfish Launches Program for Diverse Talent
- “When We See Each Other” podcast. Distribution and audience engagement around the soon-to-be-launched “When We See Each Other” podcast, hosted by George Goehl.
Grantee: People’s Action | George Goehl, Director, People’s Action, New York Times’ Op-Ed If Progressives Don’t Try to Win Over Rural Areas, Guess Who Will)
- We Will Emerge. Five visionary authors will write essays to provide shape and meaning to the American people’s yearning to redefine, reset, and reshape our society.
Grantee: PEN America
- Your Vote Is Power Launch of a digital campaign using special AR (augmented reality) technology that will help millions of people connect with those different from themselves and activate their imaginations on voting.
Grantee: Amplifier | Cleo Barnett and MoveOn | Michael Crawford
A new generation of pluralist leaders
- Artist and Women’s March Co-Founder Paola Mendoza: Releasing her new YA novel Sanctuary (Penguin Random House, Sep 2020) and building a conversation on immigration.
- Founder of TransLash, Imara Jones: Launching a cross-platform storytelling project on the future of trans leadership and worldbuilding in the gender and racial justice movements.
- Founder of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Elle Hearns: Launching a short documentary on the history of the transgender movement.
- Comedian and “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim” podcast host Zahra Noorbakash: Developing her new “Don’t Stop Believing” podcast.
- Cultural Organizer, Writer, “Black Joy Mixtape” host Amber J. Phillips: Producing her one woman show “Abundance 2020.”
- National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations Director Ai-jen Poo: Writing a series of op-eds and essays about a caregiving economy and launching the second season of the podcast “Sunstorm” with co-host Alicia Garza.
- Culture Surge. Providing 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
- #TheTimeIsNow. Successfully changing—after years of pressure—the racist name of the Washington NFL football team.
Grantees: IllumiNative | Crystal Echo Hawk
- American We. Real-time audience research tracking how pop culture content is informing the pluralist or anti-pluralist instincts of mass audiences.
Grantee: Metafo.re | Jeff Yang (sparks & honey, The Futures Company) and Ken Habarta
- The Narrative Engine. Real-time audience research measuring how pop culture content is reaching and affecting audiences.
Grantee: futurePerfect Lab | Dr. Heidi Boisvert “Are You What You Watch?” report with Norman Lear Center; MIT Open Doc Lab Fellow; co-creator of XTH Sense, a biocreative instrument