Innovative funding collaborative is accelerating justice through entertainment
The Pop Culture Collaborative is a groundbreaking, multi-million dollar philanthropic resource and funder learning community working to transform the narrative landscape around people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and Native people – especially those who are women, queer, transgender, and/or disabled. The Collaborative believes there is an opportunity—and that philanthropy has a responsibility—to build a field capable of shaping popular culture to reflect the complexity of the American people and make a just and pluralistic future feel real, desirable, and inevitable.
Over the long-term, the Collaborative is working to support the growth of a pop culture for social change field capable of building the yearning in most Americans (more than 150 million people) to actively co-create a just and pluralist society in which everyone is perceived to belong, inherently, and is treated as such.
Through its grantmaking, the Collaborative supports pathbreaking leadership in the arts, entertainment, and social justice sectors dedicated to mass audience culture change strategies; commissions and supports creative work that excavates and illuminates who we are as a nation and who we yearn to become; invests in critical pieces of new and evolving field infrastructure developed for the pop culture for social change field ; funds groundbreaking culture change research; and supports innovations in mass audience activation. From its inception through 2019, the Collaborative awarded $7 million in grants.
In addition to grantmaking, the Collaborative engages in funder and field learning through digital resources including case studies, its WONDERLAND podcast, its Break The Story digital magazine and in person experiences, organizes and facilitates network and partnership building among artists, entertainment representatives, movement leaders, and philanthropy; and in deep narrative structural and design. Through partnerships between the social justice sector and the pop culture industries, the Pop Culture Collaborative believes activists, artists, researchers, and strategists can create the cultural conditions that encourage mass audiences to reckon with the past and rewrite the story of our nation’s future.
Unbound Philanthropy is a founding Managing Partner of the Pop Culture Collaborative. The Collaborative serves as a cornerstone of our narrative and Public grantmaking.
Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ford Foundation, the General Service Foundation, the JPB Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundation, the Novo Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and anonymous partners
I am continually amazed by the breathtaking level of boldness and ambition of the Pop Culture Collaborative - to transform the behaviour and beliefs of hundreds of millions of people. Now that is what I call vision!
Brett Davidson, Director of Media and Narratives at Open Society Foundations, a Managing Partner of the Pop Culture Collaborative
The Pop Culture collaborative is unleashing the superpowers of pop culture to build widespread public yearning for a pluralist culture--that is, a nation in which most people are actively engaged in the hard and delicate work of belonging together in a just society.
The Pop Culture Collaborative was founded by a network of philanthropic leaders—primarily led by women and women of color, including the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation, alongside Unbound—who yearned to expand the impact of our investments by pooling our resources, strategic thinking, and leadership influence to explore and learn about 1) the best strategies to strengthen, connect, and expand the nascent pop culture for social change field, and 2) individual and coordinated grantmaking strategies powerful enough to transform a narrative environment through pop culture and mass media.
Many of these funders, including Unbound, were early and steadfast supporters of culture change efforts—films, music videos, web series, TV storyline integrations, or creative campaigns.
We recognized that while often innovative and timely, due to a lack of infrastructure, networks, and financial support, these initiatives seldom reached the scale needed to create palpable and enduring change in the beliefs and behaviors of millions of people.
Building on recommendations provided by the “Pop Justice” report series produced by former entertainment executive Liz Manne, the Pop Culture Collaborative launched as a multiyear fund in the summer 2017, on the heels of hiring its first staff leadership team: Executive Director Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Strategy Director Tracy Van Slyke.
Organizations, artists, creative companies, senior fellows, cultural strategists, culture change researchers, cross-sector networks who are part of the grantee community
Photo 1: Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Executive Director of the Pop Culture Collaborative
Photo 2: Ava Duvernay, speaking at Pop Culture Collaborative convening