hands reaching from a faceted background to join in celebration

Seeding Dialogue for Equity and Democracy

The Graduate School of Leadership and Change (GSLC) was allocated an initial pilot fund to further the purposes of the University’s Guskin Center for Democracy and the Common Good. After consideration of various approaches, the GSLC faculty decided to fund the exciting work of current students given the wide range of sectors, locations, and causes represented by our learning community. In mid-November, GSLC posted the call for proposals for initiatives that engaged community-based partners in dialogue and creative activities to bridge divides and further social, economic, racial and/or environmental justice.

An initial four seed grants have now been made, and we look forward to the work and the outcomes. We will plan for a way in Summer, after all projects are completed, to share these exciting projects and the learning from them. Also, as part of this effort, Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew, an alum with extensive nonprofit experience in funding community partnerships, will serve as a mentor for the four recipients at strategic moments in their projects’ work.

Let’s introduce the four projects:

Marcella Smith Fellows and Talkbacks Toolkit

Renee Bradford (Cohort 17)
This project brings together a cross-section of five young leaders in an intergenerational virtual retreat to receive training on generative storytelling and participatory action. A subsequent series of ‘talkback’ sessions will be organized to help develop their skills in engaging in important conversations about racial equity and justice. Participants are located in different states and will come from an existing intergenerational network, Redeem the Ten. The Guskin Funds would be used to develop the Talkbacks Toolkit and social media placements.

“How we respond to difficult times will determine our future. After the death of George Floyd, RedeemThe10.com chose to respond to the wicked problem of racism with togetherness,” said Renee Bradford. “As a Guskin grant recipient, this award helps me position The Marcella Fellowship, which is the next iteration of RedeemThe10.com, as a catalyst for the future care of a movement that inspires the younger generations to lead important conversations across differences. It means the world to me to be a recipient of the award because The Marcella Fellowship is a small glimpse of what is possible in our world when reciprocal listening and human dignity meets human care. Thank you for the recognition of and support of the heart-centered work of a few dedicated volunteers from across the country that believe that participatory change is generosity in action.”

Cultivating Conscious Communication

LauraLynn Jansen (Cohort 19)
This project develops empathetic listening and communication skills coupled with familiarity of Relational Cultural Theory among a group of 10 diverse mentors involved with HerShe, an organization that works with foster girls in Los Angeles County and Las Vegas, Nevada. The goal will be to cultivate awareness of implicit bias and building connection across age and social circumstance. Participants will primarily be located in Nevada. The Guskin Funds would be used to secure curriculum materials and cover costs of technology support and the facilitator.

“A collective of adult women dedicate an immense amount of energy while interfacing with thirty teenage foster girls at Camp HerShe, and some also are the backbone to fulfilling support in-between camp gatherings by being mentors,” said LauraLynn Jansen. “Receiving the Guskin grant will allow us to provide these women more in-depth training. Like young women, adult women carry questions of self-worth, consciously or subconsciously, and these inner notions are further confounded by the “increase in ‘isms’ within social systems in American culture” (Walker, 2020, p. 3). The Guskin funds will allow us to provide a developmental experience for women akin to the youth they support. This programming is also part of the newest evolution of the organization now becoming the HerShe Institute.”

Cooperative Education for the Good of the Whole

Mary Sutton (Cohort 17)
This project supports the work of Collective REMAKE, a Los Angeles-based co-operative nonprofit working with formerly incarcerated individuals. In particular, the focus will be on the development of participatory open evaluation processes, using Appreciative Inquiry and Co-operative Inquiry methods within a broad stake-holder network, and to assist 30-40 impacted participants to assess the value of and their growth in co-operative education and development workshops. Mary just had an article published in the NonProfit Quarterly about Collective REMAKE.  The Guskin Funds will also be used to support her participation in a Co-operative Inquiry project, and it will support technical assistance for web and editing.

“I am so grateful,” Mary Sutton. “With the acknowledgment of this award, I feel I have been initiated as an activist scholar.”

Disabilities Dialogue for Understanding

Nicole White (Cohort 17)
This project, in partnership with Special Olympics Hamilton County (Ohio), brings together community partners (recreation and fitness partners) into a series of dialogues with families raising young children with disabilities as a way to increase understanding to aid in community programming. As a result of the meetings, the intention is to develop a “Guide for Creating Inclusive Community Programs.” The Guskin Funds would go to fund the meetings and to produce and distribute the materials for the guidebook.

“Inclusion is often something we consider when looking at workplace and school settings,” said Nicole White. “However, inclusion should be a means for all facets of life. One of those areas being fitness; this award will help us to understand how to be a resource for our community and develop programming that meets the needs of people with disabilities. Inclusion does not have a boundary. However, boundaries still exist in many facets of life for people with disabilities that need to be broken. This grant will help build inclusive practice.”