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
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
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 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.
Executive Director, Unbound Philanthropy