Pop Culture Collaborative Awards First Round of Grants

Pop Culture

By Jack Barnes

The Pop Culture Collaborative announced over $700,000 in initial grant awards to social justice and entertainment organizations working to shift popular narratives in entertainment with regard to people of color, immigrant families and communities, Muslims, and refugee people. The investment comes from a core group of philanthropic foundations including the Ford Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, The JPB Foundation, General Service Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and an anonymous donor that recently launched the Pop Culture Collaborative and appointed a team of dynamic leaders to oversee this new resource.  

Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Executive Director, is widely recognized as one of the foremost thought leaders in the culture change field, with a career spent advising many of the nation’s most influential entertainers and changemakers.

Tracy Van Slyke, Strategy Director, has led at the intersection of media and movement-building for seventeen years, with a focus on social justice and storytelling for mass audiences.

Jesse Moore heads communications and messaging, previously having led President Obama’s entertainment and creative partnerships portfolio, mobilizing entertainment industry leaders to drive change on core policy priorities. This team, with the backing of some of the country’s most respected philanthropic foundations, lead the Pop Culture Collaborative, a partnership-building and grantmaking organization positioned at the vertex of pop culture and social change. By advancing projects that harness the power of entertainment—TV, online shows, movies, music, sports and mass media—the Collaborative works to popularize authentic narratives about people of color, Muslims, immigrants and refugees in entertainment, and reshape how we see each other and envision America’s future.

HARNESS, who is removing barriers and forging inroads for people of color-led movements to collaborate in the creation of more authentic stories.  Wise Entertainment, producers of the popular HULU series East Los High, who are building new research and audience metric models to help the entertainment industry understand diverse audiences and the effectiveness of minority driven content.  Caring Across Generations is elevating often-overlooked caregivers as multi-dimensional protagonists in society, transforming how we think about aging, race, gender, and community in the 21st century.  Read more about all of our grantees on the website.

Now more than ever, the media being produced and consumed drives American culture and the nation’s collective vision for the future.  This new reality places unprecedented power in the hands of modern storytellers and entertainers in ways the social justice movement is only now beginning to fully explore for purposes of positive culture change and social progress.  As movements for social change swell in American streets, and challenges to equity and inclusion ring louder than ever, the Collaborative represents a powerful new resource and social laboratory for entertainers, philanthropists and movement leaders to collaborate on projects that can move society toward understanding, equity, and meaningful cultural change.  The Pop Culture Collaborative will collaborate on important projects in three fundamental ways:

*    As a catalyst for high-impact entertainment industry, philanthropy, and social justice partnerships.

*     As a grantmaking resource to advance projects that can empower artists and the entertainment industry as a conduit for change using the content they develop and the ways in which they engage mass audiences.

*    As an accelerator for entertainment projects and social movements to build rich new storyworlds in the media to help mass audiences envision a shared, inclusive future.
“Momentum has been growing for years around the power of narratives and pop culture to awaken people to injustice in our society,” said Executive Director Bridgit Antoinette Evans.  “We’ve reached a tipping point within entertainment, as more and more artists and industry leaders begin to fully understand and embrace the role they can play in telling better stories that contribute to a stronger future.”

“We see the cost to real people when negative or one-dimensional narratives about immigrants, refugees, Muslims and people of color take root in society,” said Taryn Higashi, Executive Director of Unbound Philanthropy. “This investment in pop culture strategies, by a diverse group of philanthropic leaders, signals our firm belief that the policy and societal progress we seek requires an engaged and enlightened public – viewing each other through clear, authentic lenses.”

“Leaders of social justice movements and organizations have long envisioned sustainable ways to work at the intersection of pop culture and social change,” said Tracy Van Slyke, Strategy Director to the Collaborative. “This is the opportunity many of us have been waiting for to further the social justice movement’s ability to work hand in hand with the entertainment industry to reach mass audiences.”

The Pop Culture Collaborative has already awarded high value grants to several organizations and initiatives and is currently accepting idea submissions for both long-term and rapid response grant proposals via its website: http://popcollab.org/

Grantees being announced today include: Caring Across GenerationsColor of ChangeDefine AmericanfuturePerfect labHarnessUnited We Dream Network and Wise Entertainment.

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Pop Culture Collaborative Awards First Round of Grants

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