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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 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. Fifteen years of work at the intersection of pop culture storytelling and social change has evolved into a vision for a new, hybrid culture change field in which creative and social justice leaders work together to create and popularize stories that shape the narratives, values, beliefs and behaviors that define American culture. In 2016, Bridgit was a Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, piloting Culture Changes Us, a coordinated learning system designed to accelerate the social justice sectors’ understanding and use of culture change strategy. For Unbound Philanthropy and Ford Foundation, she has led multi-year culture change research and strategy design projects aimed at unearthing breakthrough narrative and engagement strategies for the immigrant rights and gender justice movements.
In 2008, Bridgit founded Fuel | We Power Change, a culture change strategy studio in New York City, as the home for her collaborations with leading social change innovators. Through this work she designed long-term culture change strategies for social movements that used transportive story experiences, often in the pop culture realm, to shift the thoughts and feelings of mass audiences. Strategy design commissions include the NYCLU/ACLU Policing Project, Make It Work campaign, National Domestic Workers Alliance’s #BeTheHelp strategy featuring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Cicely Tyson, Amy Poehler and other artists; Breakthrough’s #ImHere for Immigrant Women strategy; GEMS’ Girls Are Not for Sale strategy featuring Beyonce, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Sinead O’Connor, Mary J Blige and more; and Save Darfur’s “Live for Darfur” campaign chaired by Don Cheadle and Djimon Hounsou. Drawing insights from these commissions, Bridgit has traveled by invitation to the UK, France, Austria, Croatia, Brazil, South Africa and throughout the U.S. to present talks, lectures and workshops for some of the world’s most innovative movement leaders and artists. She often points to her roots as a professional Off Broadway actor and devised theater producer as the source of her deep passion for culture change strategy. She received her MFA from Columbia University and BA from Stanford University.
Fifteen years of work at the intersection of pop culture storytelling and social change has evolved into a vision for a new, hybrid culture change field in which creative and social justice leaders work together to create and popularize stories that shape the narratives, values, beliefs and behaviors that define American culture.
Through her work at the intersection of media and movement building for the last 17 years, Tracy has worked with a cross-sector of content producers, social justice organizers and philanthropic leaders to help them develop the profound storytelling and experiences that can catalyze mass audiences for social change.
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. Its signature Cultural Pulse program focuses on helping organizers and advocates hook into the energy of popular culture: to learn from audiences and fans, work with artists and pop content, and experiment with smart, timely community engagement and organizing strategies.
As a fellow at the Opportunity Agenda, she authored the groundbreaking 2014 report “Spoiler Alert: How Progressives Will Break Through With Pop Culture.” Before founding the Culture Lab, she was the co-director of the New Bottom Line, a national alignment of economic justice grassroots organizations; director of The Media Consortium, a network of the leading independent media outlets in the country working to increase their collective impact; and publisher of In These Times, a national award winning political magazine. She is the co-author of the book Beyond The Echo Chamber (New Press, 2010) and her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Politico, Medium and more. She has been on the boards of National People’s Action and served as president for Free Speech TV and Women, Action and the Media.
Jesse Moore is a former White House advisor, a leading voice on entertainment, social justice and politics, and the founder of Common Thread Strategies – a boutique firm focused on message development, systemic change strategies, speechwriting, and bridge building across complex policy or social divides.
Moore served as a White House staff speechwriter before being appointed associate director of public engagement and the President’s chief liaison to both entertainment industry partners and faith-based organizations. In this role he worked to amplify President Obama’s message through pop culture platforms and partnerships with celebrity activists and content creators. Moore served on several White House task forces, including those dealing with criminal justice reform, 21st century policing, sexual assault prevention, and My Brother’s Keeper – to empower boys and young men of color.
Moore served as a communications director at the US Department of Health and Human Services in the President’s first term – managing media strategy around poverty reduction and opportunity programs. He held state leadership positions in each of President Obama’s national campaigns, and currently sits on the Board of Directors at Rock the Vote. Moore has been featured as a political contributor on MSNBC, C-Span and in the Huffington Post.
Moore spent his early career working in youth empowerment and college admissions at Western Washington University – where he also studied Political Science and English. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a native of Lynnwood, Washington.
Marisol Ramos has extensive experience in youth organizing, movement building, philanthropy and research in immigration and higher education policy.
Previously, Marisol worked at the Community College Research Center conducting research on improving educational pathways for low income, first generation and undocumented students. Before joining CCRC, Ramos worked at the Michigan Department of Education and the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. Marisol has also worked as a Program Associate at the New World Foundation in New York managing the Phoenix Fund for Workers and Communities, which provides organizational and philanthropic support to grantee immigrant rights organizations in the United States and Mexico. Ramos’s advocacy work includes co-founding the national United We Dream Network and New York State Youth Leadership Council.
Marisol has been featured in the New York Times, Latina Magazine, Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Magazine, New York Daily News, PBS, El Diario/LaPrensa for her work with undocumented youth. Marisol graduated from the dual masters program in public policy and higher education at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and at the School of Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ramos previously earned a BA in English literature and Women Studies with honors from Hunter College, City University of New York.
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.
Executive Director, Unbound Philanthropy