2018 grantees slide

By Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke

This summer’s crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border has exposed America’s painful history of separating families. From the familial bonds ruptured by slavery, the forced removal and “re-education” of Native children, the World War II internment of Japanese families; mass incarceration; and the recent Muslim travel ban, family trauma is in our nation’s DNA.

Yet in these agonizing times, we see hope and resilience breaking through, as artists, activists, strategists, funders, and people around the country come together in the spirit of radical cooperation to right these wrongs and lay bare the question we all must grapple with: Who do we want to become as a society?

Now more than ever, we need artists and activists to drive our country’s exploration of this question, and the Pop Culture Collaborative is committed to supporting this work. We are proud of our grantees—National Domestic Workers Alliance, United We Dream, Harness, Storyline Partners, Define American, Opportunity Agenda, Soze Agency and CultureStrike—who are leading narrative and cultural strategies that fight for families at the border.

With gratitude for all the vital work underway, we are also excited to announce the Pop Culture Collaborative’s Summer 2018 grantees—with a total of $1.3 million awarded to more than a dozen incredible projects:

  • To cultivate the capacity of artists to lead in creating systemic change within the entertainment industry and social movements: 5050by2020 (Jill Soloway, lead); ARRAY Alliance (Ava DuVernay, lead); CultureStrike (Favianna Rodriguez, lead); Harness (America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, Ryan Piers Williams, Marya Bangee, leads); and Storyline Partners (network of numerous organizations).
  • To support the design and implementation of pop culture strategies developed by and for members of Native American and American Muslim communities directly affected by harmful and invisibilizing narratives: IllumiNative (Crystal Echo Hawk and Heather Rae, leads) and the Pillars Fund (Kashif Shaikh and Kalia Abiade, leads).
  • To experiment with methods to activate rapid pop culture narrative response strategies during peak political and cultural moments: National Guestworker Alliance (Saket Soni, lead) and The League (Tracy Sturdivant, lead).
  • To advance cutting-edge audience and market research: futurePerfect Lab (Heidi Boisvert and Johanna Blakley/USC Norman Lear Center, leads); Midwest Culture Lab’s Cultural Audit Tool (Erin Potts and Amber J. Phillips, leads); and Wise Entertainment (Mauricio Mota, lead).

We’d also like to welcome Shawn Taylor, Afro-futurist writer-scholar and co-founder of the popular geek culture site Nerds of Color, as our new Senior Fellow on the Future of Fandoms.

Pop culture stories and other immersive experiences can help us reckon with the truths of our past, make sense of our present, and liberate our imaginations so we can create a just and pluralistic future. Together, the Pop Culture Collaborative family of grantees and partners are working to inspire millions of people to cry out against injustice and imagine ourselves into this new way of life.

We thank you all for this inspiring and important work.