Diversity & Opportunity Project
As we looked around our inaugural summit in 2018, we noted that our participants were not representative of the nation as a whole. We needed more diversity in several key areas, namely ideological, ethnic/racial, faith, age, geography and more.
THE 2019 SUMMIT
We are catalyzing change towards healthy self-governance. What we are doing has risks and often we are not fully confident we are on the right track. As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push -- or call -- society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. We are committed to making repeated attempts until we find the path to this better future.
On October 29, 2019, we hosted 200 participants at our Summit. The gathering was closer to representing the richness of American diversity -- a major improvement from our inaugural summit in 2018. We significantly increased representation among five key under-represented groups of people.
- Conservative ideology
- People of color
- Faith based
Our day-long program provided opportunities for people to connect local organizing with national organizing across the breadth of democracy. We sought to expand the number of people who want to write the next chapter in our nation’s story.
We have found that a lot of really smart people are working strategically, but success is limited by the competition for funding and focusing on their own work rather than the bigger picture. For us to fulfill the dream for a stronger democratic republic, we must work together. So we invited people to dream a better dream, enrich our souls and develop or deepen our trust with whoever the “other” is for us.
Moving into 2020 and beyond
Given the imperative for the democracy field to become more diverse and inclusive, the creation of a Bridge Alliance Grassroots Coalition offers a way for community-based organizations and organizers to collaborate with Bridge Alliance members. The combined efforts of members and the grassroots coalition will provide ways for democracy process reform to be of service to community issues, thereby expanding the number of people involved in social, cultural and democratic reforms.
We expect to meet these outcomes:
- Increased representation within the democracy field to include more people of diverse races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, socio-economic backgrounds, ideologies, faiths/spiritualities and ages.
- Authentic relationships necessary for sustainable collaboration between Bridge Alliance members and community-based organizations
- Coaching opportunities for Bridge Alliance members, and/or other mainstream organizations, who want to increase diversity and opportunity within their own organizations.
- A system of shared resources for the purpose of being additive, not duplicative of existing programs.
ADDITIONAL CONCEPT PLANS
This plan calls for four gatherings to speak with underrepresented groups in their communities, bringing together local activists, artists, and academics in order to learn their perspectives on what is needed for healthy self-governance.
A series of roundtable convenings of grassroots organization representatives with the goal of working toward and deciding upon a common vision.
“Crossing Bridges” Podcast
This 20-30 episode series of interviews with grassroots organizations in underrepresented communities will consist of brief introductions to the issues these leaders are working on daily.
By cross-pollinating grassroots groups with mainstream organizations, the Bridge Alliance hopes to foster relationships between people in the democracy field and grassroots groups to expand awareness of, and a sense of connection to, the emerging movement.
Venture Fund to Pay It Forward
Oftentimes, organizations receive funding for specific campaigns or time periods which afterwards does not help to support their day to day functions. This is the number one reason why grassroots organizations die out despite their relevance to the communities they serve. The creation of a venture fund would provide them with the financial stability to actively operate on a day to day basis. This fund would be ongoing, meaning it would be designed to consistently be funded either by funders or previous beneficiaries who want to give back to the same fund that once gave to them.
The Bridge Alliance offers paid internship to students and/or recent graduates to ensure that the next generation of democratic field professionals are genuinely representative of our diverse society.
Diversity and Opportunity Democracy Summit
Within the complex ecosystem that is the democracy field, Diversity and Opportunity, referred to as D&O, has an ecosystem all to itself. While the bigger picture of this D&O project is to organically add more diverse organizations and causes to the forefront of the democracy field, these organizations and causes must be explored and fully understood separately before they settle into the democracy field. A convening, made up of organizations from underrepresented groups as well as mainstream organizations that are interested in the D&O movement, is a great way to do that.