Three years ago, Convergence Partnership shifted our funding strategies to focus on the intersections of racial justice and health equity. We are now celebrating nearly $3 million in grants to 12 frontline, people of color led and staffed organizations that are growing civic, economic, and narrative power. We are marking this milestone in a series of blog posts, “Powerful Ripples of Change,” that spotlights these organizations, their accomplishments, and the powerful work they have underway.
Powerful Ripples of Change: Narrative Power Unleashed
The stories we tell about our communities have tremendous power in defining who we are, what challenges we face, and what kinds of change is possible. That is why uplifting and supporting organizations focused on harnessing community narrative power is a crucial part of our funding strategy. Our grantees BeGreat, Hutch in Harmony, The Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability (LCJA), and Elevated Chicago are leading the way on rewriting the stories we tell on racial justice and health equity.
BeGreat Together’s DocuCourse is an award-winning series of films and curriculum that features Black and Latino community changemakers from Kansas City and their remarkable efforts in rewriting narratives and cultivating stronger, more united communities. From art advocacy to maternal health to incarcerated Black mothers to environmental revitalization in disinvested communities—the films weave together stories with data, illuminating the complexities of structural inequalities. Their documentaries are not just films; they’re tools that empower communities to tell their own stories, reclaiming and shifting narratives.
Hutch in Harmony is building community connections and coalitions for justice in Hutchinson, Kansas. While the organization was launched to provide services, they are reshaping the narrative of leadership. As champions and changemakers, they are cultivating leadership in their care-centered way. They develop young leaders, spreading the idea that leaders are not just big names with big spotlight, but the people around us, and ourselves. Quickly, they began taking on local policy change, and now, no one is surprised when they show up at the council meetings. As women and nonbinary people, they create a space for community care and healing that is the ethos that is underpinning their work.
In a place with deep racial tension, they are moving the dial from tolerance to acceptance, to embracing difference. They do this by facilitating activations such as community picnics, voter education events, and a March for Unity to address racial justice and equity. Their program Sketches of Reality brings Black and Brown elders together in the community to share about their lives and experiences. By creating space for sharing stories, Hutch in Harmony is not just fostering deeper understanding among those in the community, but building narrative power.
LCJA is working to influence and increase public investments in transportation and land use planning by building community power Black and Brown community members in Fresno and Madera Counties in California. By using strategic communications on social media and placing weekly op-eds in the local newspaper, they have been able to advocate for environmentally responsible and sustainable use of transportation resources to center the health of residents in California’s Central Valley and beyond.
Through their work, LCJA secured seats on key decision-making committees, ensuring community voices are shaping transportation resources. They’ve created a coalition of coalitions, that for the first time includes labor. This strong coalition allows them to have an influence at the state level, and take on advocacy efforts that have statewide impact. LCJA is proving that smart communications and strong organizing infrastructure can grow narrative power that rewrites the stories big business tells and centers the real experiences of communities on the frontlines.
Elevated Chicago focuses on fostering equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD) projects across the city. Through five collaborative community tables, ETOD projects have taken shape demonstrating what equitable development near transit should look like. The team’s work harnessing the power of social media and deep community engagement has helped shift how ETOD is thought about and talked about – moving from ingrained ideas of a car-first city to visioning what it would look like to have healthy communities with walkable streets. These projects, developed in and with Black and Brown communities, model effective community engagement, ownership solutions, and sustainable change. Their success is changing the narrative surrounding neighborhood development in Black and Brown communities.