many people sit at a long table outside surrounded by trees

Photo Credit: The Village Square

What Healing Looks Like: Meet the People Working Across Difference to Build Stronger Communities

by Alison Grubbs

In May 2022, New Pluralists announced our first major investment – $10 million to support  local leaders, networks, and community groups who are addressing divisive forces in their neighborhoods, towns, and counties. We wanted to learn how healing happens when it reflects the unique histories, cultures, and desires of diverse communities.  

We were overwhelmed by the response. We thought we’d get about 200 applications. We received 790 applications from organizations and community leaders across 49 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. This grant opportunity was only open for a few months, and it was primarily shared word-of-mouth. In an era where Americans feel more divided than ever, this is a signal that can give us all tremendous hope. There is healing happening all around us, and people doing courageous work that warrants our support, attention, and investment. 

Selecting from among so many stellar proposals wasn’t easy. Our grant reviewers included our diverse funding partners and community leaders. The process taught us how differently we all see and approach this work. We landed on 32 projects that demonstrate the many issues communities are healing, and the ways healing happens – from addressing wounds after violence, to reckoning with race and the legacies of slavery, from using faith and spiritual traditions to deepen our bonds, to building trust between groups that are bitterly at odds. You’ll see initiatives where people make art or launch new enterprises built on principles of freedom and inclusion, and ones that rethink how we govern and make decisions together.  Other initiatives bring communities together across lines of difference to tackle shared challenges (e.g. housing, safety, and education). Some projects are small, focused on a single town or city; others are locally rooted work that is partnering with national projects. 

Healing Starts Here initiatives are led by people with vastly different life stories and circumstances. It validates our belief that people from all walks of life care about the fates of their neighbors and the resilience of their communities.

The diversity of the Healing Starts Here portfolio is part of the point. They tell a story of why pluralism matters and the commitment we all must make to it. They tell a story of the hard work it takes to create a lasting multiracial, multifaith, and politically vibrant democracy.

Please refer to the below list of Healing Starts Here grantee recipients to read more about the powerful work they are doing to advance pluralism in their communities:

A Gathering Place
Wormfarm Institute Inc.
📍Southwest Wisconsin

Wormfarm Institute has been working for 20+ years to bridge the rural/urban divide through programming at the intersection of culture and agriculture, including a farm-based artist residency, seasonal festivals and the management of “roadside culture stands” across south central Wisconsin. They’ve built a network of artists, farmers, small business owners, conservationists and organizers looking to honor the heritage of this area and create meaningful economic opportunities, while responsibly stewarding the land upon which we all depend. Through a three-year discovery process, this collaborative group is imagining a more permanent gathering place to expand and enhance programs that meet the needs of their “culture-shed,” where both rural and urban parts are valued. Ideas include an ongoing series of artist projects, dialogues, performances, environmental actions, small business incubation and income-generating programs in the heart of Wisconsin’s farm country.

A New Civic Engagement Infrastructure for Mississippi
Working Together Mississippi

Working Together Mississippi (WTM) is an emerging statewide coalition of religious congregations and nonprofits united by the belief that Mississippi can do better. They envision a state no longer known for bigotry, poverty, and ignorance, but community, prosperity, and enlightenment. The proposed project has two components. First, WTM will create the capacity for coordinated action on local and state issues by hiring organizers in four regions of the state and building local chapters composed of community-based organizations. Second, they will address the state’s outmigration of young people by supporting and connecting young leaders, particularly people of color, who are committed to creating a brighter future for Mississippi. WTM expects this initiative to lay the foundation for a civically-engaged network of community organizations and leaders representing Mississippi’s full racial, religious, socioeconomic, political, and geographic diversity.

ALL IN Initiative
Naugatuck Valley Project and TEAM Inc.
📍Connecticut, Naugatuck River Valley (region)

In one of the most conservative and impoverished areas of the blue state of Connecticut, the Naugatuck Valley Project (NVP), a broad-based community organization, and TEAM, Inc., a social service agency, came together during the pandemic to launch ALL IN, encouraging residents from all walks of life, ages, faiths, races, sexual orientations, cultural traditions, and political beliefs to share stories, build relationships, and take collective action to revitalize community life in the NV region. Now, ALL IN resident leaders across 10 different towns are working closely to address the urgent issues facing their communities, including growing economic inequality, shrinking job opportunities, a childcare crisis, a lack of affordable housing, and unequal opportunities for brown and black residents. In continuation of this work, ALL IN will focus on agenda-setting and leadership development as they hope to expand their activities, double the number of residents involved, and eventually begin to work together at a regional scale.

Arrabon Innovation Hubs for Church Led Racial Healing in Partner Cities
📍Bible Belt cities of: Birmingham, AL; Charlotte, NC; Orlando, FL or San Antonio, TX

A racial healing project focused on evangelical pastors and congregations in the South’s Bible Belt. As a national training organization that works primarily with Christian evangelicals, Arrabon provides skills-building, immersive learning, coaching, and mentorship to congregations who wish to be “reconciling communities.” They recognize that racial healing work raises difficult emotions and tensions, and they use Christian theology to inform their curriculum and create space for “spiritual formation, learning, lament and celebration.”

Bears Ears Partnership: Indigenous Leadership, Community Healing
Bears Ears Partnership (Friends of Cedar Mesa)
📍Bears Ears Cultural Landscape (includes Southeast Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico)

Bears Ears National Monument is located in Southeast Utah, covering more than 1.3 million acres of ancestral lands held sacred by multiple Tribes and descendant communities. The protection of this cultural landscape came at the request of Tribes and the collaborative work to manage the landscape for the future must be done in an inclusive manner if it is to succeed. This partnership represents a model of how to bridge divides, find common ground, protect the landscape, and honor tribal leadership and collaborative land management. There are two goals: (1) support Tribal leadership in how the sacred resources of the greater Bears Ears landscape are managed; and (2) evolve Friends of Cedar Mesa (originally a group of local volunteers passionate about archeology) into the Bears Ears Partnership with indigenous leadership, Tribal partnership and engagement leading the organization and programs.

Building Community Leadership Through Deep Listening
SOCM Resource Project

Statewide Organizing Community eMpowerment (SOCM) is a democratically controlled, member-based organization in the coal-fields of East Tennessee. It was founded in 1972 by community residents who organized in response to the devastation caused by irresponsible strip-mining practices. Since then, its work has expanded to develop grassroots leaders who can vision, organize, and run effective campaigns to address the issues that impact their lives. The relative absence of face-to-face meeting during the pandemic, along with increased reliance on social media as the space for political engagement, have contributed greatly to real and imagined division in Tennessee communities. These challenges are deeply felt in small towns and rural communities where personal relationships are the backbone of social and political life. The overarching goals for this project are to (1) develop avenues for meaningful civic engagement with folks who are typically sidelined in public decision-making, (2) develop a set of shared concerns and hopes across traditional socio-political fault lines in our local communities, and (3) galvanize a diverse base of people who are willing to work together towards local solutions.

Canaries in the Coal Mine: Pluralism and Co-Governance in Appalachia
WV Can’t Wait Mutual Aid
📍West Virginia

Local lawmakers too often serve the interests of a wealthy few, sowing division and doubt among citizens across race, class, and party lines. It doesn’t have to be this way. West Virginia Can’t Wait built its Co-Governance Program in 2021 to lift up lawmakers from under-represented communities as they work to heal past harms. The goal of the program is to create a new way of governing where public officials truly govern alongside all of their constituents. WV Can’t Wait invests in the leadership of elected officials and community leaders through one-on-one support (coaching, training, mental health services, and defense against white supremacists); participatory governance (joint town halls, public workshops, and collaborative constituent service models); and by developing a lasting infrastructure for this work (how-to guides, an active support community among elected officials across the state, and the creation of a new fund to support locally-imagined experiments in co-governance).

The Village Square: Civic Trust Squared
The Village Square
📍Tallahassee, Florida

The Village Square has been building trusting and consequential relationships between citizens of different colors, creeds and political ideologies inside Tallahassee for 17 years. Now a part of Tallahassee’s civic life, The Village Square has consistently made the argument that hometowns are uniquely where our national divisions can be reversed. The Village Square will build on its current model with the goal to engage siloed groups less likely to participate in hometown pluralism: ideological conservatives, people of color, and younger citizens. The team will: (1) Build a core group of community leaders spanning these targeted groups who will meet regularly to build relationships, establish trust and accountability, and inform the Village Square’s strategy. (2) Build an academy to create, train, and cultivate small groups of leaders to bridge differences in the groups they belong to. (3) Launch strategic small group programming to build civic trust between people who don’t look or think alike, which specifically supports and scales community-wide events where everyone belongs.

Collective Justice
Collective Justice
📍Washington State – South King County, Pierce County, Thurston County

Collective Justice is a restorative justice agency that was born out of conversations with – and is now entirely nurtured by – survivors of violence and people who experienced incarceration. Its focus is to co-create relationship-based responses to harm that center the dignity of all people. It is building an alternative to the criminal legal system by creating spaces where healing and accountability can happen, as well as investing in the leadership of people who have survived violence and mass incarceration. It has four programs: (1) healing circles for people on all sides of serious harm to process grief and trauma; (2) dialogue and accountability processes where people who have experienced loss or harm can speak face-to-face with those who have caused the harm (3) an organizing academy for survivors of violence to identify solutions to harm that work for them and their communities, where punishment isn’t the default answer; and (4) trainings and public education on restorative justice to individuals and agencies.

Community Cornerstones: New Capacities for Healing, Connection, and Action
Essential Partners
📍North Carolina, Triangle Area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Carrboro, Apex)

Essential Partners will partner with civic and faith groups, nonprofits, schools, law enforcement, and municipalities in North Carolina’s Research Triangle for the project “Community Cornerstones.” Together, these partners will co-create a strategy and develop practices to heal and sustain an entire region — using tactics like dialogue across differences, restorative healing, collaborative storytelling through photography, and collective action. The goal is to create a shift in local culture, where local residents can experience connection, healing, and collaboration as regular facets of community life.

Covenant of Nations
Seeds of Wisdom
📍Great Lakes region

Seeds of Wisdom supports initiatives that ensure the continuance of Indigenous wisdom traditions and serves as a bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. In this project, they will support a Sacred Wampum gathering that will revitalize an ancient relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (representing six nations across what’s now upstate New York) and the Anishinaabeg Nation (representing another six nations across the Great Lakes region). The outcome is to create spaces for dialogue across two traditional peoples and across generations; instill unity between these groups to heal Mother Earth; support the self-determination of each nation and their traditional governance systems; and fortify Indigenous values and sacred traditional knowledge that are based in the ceremonies and original ways of each tribe respectively. They will use insights from these gatherings to develop curriculum and teaching tools to be used by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous schools and community organizations. The project will also fund opportunities for Indigenous film-makers to interview Elders, knowledge holders, and young leaders.

Empowering Evangelical Campus Groups to Build Belonging in Chicago
Neighborly Faith
📍Chicago, Illinois

Evangelical campus groups convene and train tens of millions of students around the world to evangelize their neighbors and build Christian communities at colleges. In recent years, a team of Evangelical campus staff in Chicago have become concerned that their programs are not meeting the moment—either for their faith or their city—and want to begin partnering across faiths. Because of this, Neighborly Faith will convene and train at least 20 local staff to lead change in their campus groups. These staff will build cross-faith partnerships and plan events that challenge students to resist the allure of Christian nationalism and instead imagine their faith and citizenship through a lens of spirited pluralism.

From Separation to Kinship-Bridges to Better Community
National Housing Trust, Neighborhood Associates
📍Washington, D.C.

Two organizations, National Housing Trust and the Neighborhood Associates Corporation, are partnering to address pressing issues impacting residents’ sense of safety and belonging in historically Black neighborhoods that are undergoing rapid gentrification. Actions to push renters out of the neighborhood have created an “us versus them” mentality, resulting in high tensions between neighbors and an inability for residents to mobilize around critical issues. This project will: (1) give existing residents the tools to address generational trauma (through care teams, community history, breathwork and the arts); (b) build the capacity of 30-50 affordable housing residents to advocate for their goals, through leadership development and mutual aid; and (c) help building owners understand how neighborhood change is impacting the lives of residents.

Frontier, Rural, Suburban, Urban: Engaging Coloradans in Civic Life
Warm Cookies of the Revolution
📍Denver and surrounding counties, Colorado

Warm Cookies of the Revolution is a Civic Health Club, using art and cultural organizing to engage diverse sets of people throughout the state, bridge cultural divides, and become more democratically involved. Example projects include: an Intergenerational Show-and-Tell Mixtape to share stories and songs while addressing crucial community issues; a Civic Stitch n’ Bitch that invites woodcarvers, whittlers, quilters, finger painters, and others to get together and discuss relevant topics for the community; and a creative art installation that galvanized support for a student-led participatory budgeting project. This grant enables them to deepen their work with rural youth and with residents in the Denver suburbs. Additionally, they hope to refine their cultural organizing model in partnership with residents, and spread these practices by making them open-source, thereby enabling residents to adapt their techniques to address the local issues that matter most.

La Maraña | Laboratorio de Diseño Participativo
La Maraña
📍Puerto Rico

La Maraña joins Puerto Rican communities in the co-design and construction of the spaces they need for their development, sustainability and permanence in Puerto Rico. Following the island’s 2014 debt crisis, the local government has adopted a series of aggressive austerity measures, making it increasingly difficult for Puerto Ricans to afford living in their homeland. Mass migration has only escalated following Hurricane Maria in 2017. Using participatory design methodologies, La Maraña will facilitate dialogue and consensus-building between community members, government representatives, and other stakeholders in order to collectively dream – and build – the social impact projects these communities envision for a dignified life in Puerto Rico. Over the next two years, they will run participatory design processes with three community-based organizations across the island who are fighting for their right to remain.

Let’s Talk Marathon County
Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS)
📍Marathon County, Wisconsin

Like much of America, Central Wisconsin is beset by political division, magnified by digital media, which often portrays citizens in a constant state of disagreement around public issues with a shrinking middle ground. However, research shows that a majority of Americans hold beliefs and positions that are NOT at the extremes. The goal of Let’s Talk Marathon County is to give a voice to this silent majority. WIPPS will host a regular series of citizen panels, inviting intergenerational participants who are equally representing urban and rural Central Wisconsin communities, in order to restore basic trust and meaningful, healthy civic dialogue on a range of issues. Topics will be chosen from surveys completed by participants, as well as from relevant issues identified by community leaders. Moderators will be trained in the deliberative dialogue process so that each panel meeting is conducted with the goal of encouraging listening for understanding and respect for those of varying opinions. It is our hope that this process will prompt deeper community engagement and develop a culture and expectation that supports diverse viewpoints on important issues while tamping down toxic political narratives and extremism.

Meeting of America in Eastern Kentucky
Listen First Project
📍Eastern Kentucky (region)

Toxic polarization is increasingly hitting close to home in eastern Kentucky, causing divides at the dinner table, in the workplace, at worship services, and beyond. Meeting of America has been building relationships in eastern Kentucky for a year, and it has developed a vast network of partners who have expressed support for this project. The team seeks to center the voices of conservatives and rural Americans, who have long been underrepresented in bridging interventions. The project itself will bring together Kentuckians for a series of conversations that help participants connect around their shared humanity, commit to shared values, and agree to fixing things that they broadly agree are broken – creating hope and opportunity to practice a different model of citizenship.

Building Resiliency for Civic Leaders
Millennial Action Project
📍Arkansas and Oklahoma

Millennial Action Project (MAP) and its Future Caucus network is the largest cross-partisan network of young lawmakers in the U.S., working to build bridges and tackle policy solutions together, so that political polarization is not an obstacle to solving big problems. However, young lawmakers have shared that they are experiencing significant barriers to maintaining this cross-cultural leadership. They lack leadership development and training, and struggle mentally while working in toxic environments. In response, MAP proposes piloting a deep engagement in two states with a significant Future Caucus presence: Arkansas and Oklahoma. This project will (1) offer a 10-month fellowship program that explores healing and invests in the leadership of these legislators, and (2) advance a storytelling campaign to highlight the positive community impacts of these young leaders.

Oak Ridge Periodic Tables
Oak Ridge Periodic Tables
📍Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Oak Ridge, Tennessee was created in 1942 by the U.S. government as a “secret city” to help win WW2 by enriching uranium to make a nuclear bomb before our Western adversaries. Only the morning after the Hiroshima detonation did the majority of this city’s residents learn what they’d been working on, or why the city had remained such a secret. Oak Ridge Periodic Tables is a locally-led initiative created to bridge differences, reclaim hidden stories, and offer healing spaces for a community born in war and secrecy. With support from The People’s Supper, they will train a team of skilled “Conversation Resourcers” as part of their commitment to get the “secret city” talking again. The Resourcers will then facilitate a Racial Justice Supper Series, bringing together ethnically and racially diverse civic and cultural leaders within Oak Ridge for the purpose of deepening interpersonal connection and sparking collective action. The series will couple with ongoing arts-based events and meals, in order to amplify local partners’ existing efforts to reclaim the hidden stories of Oak Ridge and those who call it home, including reclaiming the city’s untold history of being the first school system in Tennessee, and the Southeast, to desegregate.

Pathfinding to Ever-Renewing Community
Community Renewal International
📍Shreveport, Louisiana

Founded by a pastor who grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Community Renewal International (CRI) tests (and proves) that positive relationships are our most valuable and value creating resource. From a perspective that society is a whole system of relationships,CRI actualized and continues developing a model to connect people citywide, across all lines of difference, in their shared capacity to care. Block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood people across the city are connected in friendship. Through the power of caring together relational capacities, wholeness and common good grow a stronger, more resilient Shreveport and communities replicating the CRI model. Notable characteristics of a citywide “caring network” are trust and creative emergence. As the network thickens it more quickly responds to needs, opportunities and formation of learning-doing groups that are creating emergent initiatives to address adaptive wicked challenges communities experience. The patterns of growing these emergent initiatives are revealing characteristics of relational leadership with skills to convene and guide emergent learning-doing initiatives. In test groups, people are guided to prioritize caring so differences become assets in “arguing to agreement” as they co-create a shared future. With grant funding, CRI will grow two currently emerging community-driven system change initiatives (one focused on schools, the other on community development), activate two new emergent learning-doing initiatives, and develop relational leadership network skills for convening, guiding and aligning more citizen-led learning-doing groups.

Reconstructing Reconstruction: A Historical Reckoning Towards Inclusive Democracy
Search for Common Ground and Plessy & Ferguson Foundation
📍New Orleans, Louisiana

Common Ground USA is partnering with the Plessy & Ferguson Initiative to run a series of community initiatives to support healing, reconciliation, and transformation in New Orleans. This project will reclaim narratives from the Reconstruction Era – drawing parallels to the present to inform a more honest, nuanced, and inclusive understanding of the contemporary political, social, and economic dynamics we navigate today. They will build the capacity of a diversity of community leaders to facilitate local dialogues and workshops on historical education, trust-building, and healing. Additionally, these groups will facilitate community outreach to identify and design historical markers which honor the victims of racial violence and positive figures of unity during Reconstruction. Through this project, New Orleanian communities can gain tools to address historical trauma and create spaces for collaborative healing, trust-building, and collective action.

Courageous Neighbors: Bold Conversations for a Better Buffalo
Resetting the Table, Restoration Church in Buffalo and VOICE Buffalo
📍Buffalo, New York

Following a year of tragedy and hate-fueled violence in Buffalo, NY, local faith and community leaders with close connections to directly impacted communities spoke with Resetting the Table to channel this painful moment into connection, collaboration, and repair. This project will build crucial local  infrastructure for relationship and resilience across political divides: a bench of local practitioners who will disarm tension and fear and open much-needed lines of communication; a network of local norm-shapers – including faith leaders and sports figures – who can shape public narrative in the direction of empathy and hope; and community-led forums for Buffalo residents to connect, engage, and problem-solve across silos, proliferating opportunities to see and understand each other, make meaning together, and imagine steps forward. 

RESTORE: Preventing violent extremism in our communities
Violence Prevention Network
📍Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania

In 2018, the Tree of Life synagogue was the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh – a part of Southwestern Pennsylvania that is home to 28 armed militia organizations. Created by the Violence Prevention Network, RESTORE aims to prevent the radicalization of violence in this region by harnessing the powerful role trusted community leaders – teachers, healthcare professionals, faith leaders, and social workers – have in diverting the path of radicalized members of our communities. RESTORE will train these leaders in evidence-based tools and methodologies that help individuals in their communities reject hate and abandon violence. They are working to identify individuals motivated by ideological extremism, pilot a 12-month program to help these individuals anchor back in more pluralistic principles, and subsequently publish and evaluate the stories that share the lessons learned.

Out in the Open: Rural LGBTQ+ Power & Belonging Network
Out in the Open
📍 Maine – Waldo and Southern Penobscot Counties

Out in the Open (OITO) connects rural LGTBQ+ people to build community, visibility, knowledge and power across Wabanaki Territory in the states of Vermont and Maine. Although national narratives tell stories of division among residents in rural places, OITO members’ experiences in their rural home communities tell a very different story – one of interdependence and reliance on neighbors, who hold many of the same values. This project will take place in rural Penobscot Territory/Waldo and Penobscot Counties in Maine. The project has two components: to invest in the leadership of rural LGBTQ+ people to develop relationships, co-create goals, and build rural organizing skills; and to host a series of Creating Belonging events, which will convene the larger local community to get to know each other as neighbors and people, and then co-create strategies for local change in order to create communities where everyone is better off.

Spiritual Foundations for Civic Action towards Social Justice: Alaska
Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition (Interfaith Working Group)
📍  Interior Alaska

The city of Fairbanks, Alaska is already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change, which are creating dangerous living conditions throughout the Interior of Alaska. This has particularly negative effects on Indigenous communities, whose lives and livelihoods remain directly linked to the health of the land, air, and waters. Over the past several years, the Interfaith Working Group of Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition has connected over 20 different spiritual communities – spanning a broad spectrum of faith, spirituality, and political beliefs. By facilitating conversations about what unites Alaskans rather than the issues that might divide them, they aim to expand the coalition of faith groups organizing for climate action. This project deepens connections to existing faith communities and grows relationships to new communities through expanded work on a documentary-style film series, mini-grant disbursement, direct outreach to faith-based youth groups, and training and support for faith leaders in faith-based organizing and collective action.

Support for the Southern Arts & Culture Coalition
Southern Arts & Culture Coalition
📍Regional South

The Southern Arts & Culture Coalition was founded in 2020 by a broad group of grassroots arts and cultural organizations based in the regional South. With the shared goal of creating enduring bonds between diverse communities (including those with a history of conflict), they work to link people together through creative traditions, community story sharing, and collective action. This coalition represents arts and cultural organizations who have united politically and geographically diverse communities through hands-on artmaking and frontline cultural work. Through the initiative’s coalition members, rural white Trump voters have found common ground with urban Black Democrats in producing plays about their neighborhoods’ respective but shared challenges. They saw community members young and old, queer and straight, and Christian and Muslim come together to sew masks during the lockdown and have built relationships that have lasted to this day. This grant is supporting the leadership development of people who build trust in their communities through arts and culture initiatives; creating spaces for cross-cultural dialogue, exchange, and artistic collaboration; and providing support to member organizations.

The After Party
Redeeming Babel, Inc.

Political tensions have already fractured many churches, and many local Christian leaders feel like they lack the resources to deal with the political complexities of the day. Even more so, in the Evangelical church, national voices are generally heeded on many political and social issues more than local leaders. The After Party provides pastors and small group leaders with the resources to transition the conversation away from the polarizing topics at the national stage to the local context of loving one’s neighbor. The After Party will influence conservative Evangelicals with a key Biblically-grounded message: the “how” of political engagement matters more to God than the “what” of policy outcomes. It will launch this message and strategy in Ohio, a battleground state with a politically divided Evangelical community. Project partners include the state’s largest Evangelical church, a representative of the typical small-midsize church, multiple Christian colleges, and other key local networks.

The Evolve Experience
The Red Door Project
📍Portland, Oregon

The Red Door Project is a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, that uses the power of stories to highlight our differences, illuminate our shared humanity, and create opportunities for new thinking. Their project The Evolve Experience uses theater-based storytelling to shift how criminal justice professionals interact with community members, and how those communities understand the institutions and individuals who have sworn to protect and serve them. This project seeks to shift hearts and minds through art, and follows a performance with curriculum, conversation, and reflection exercises to catalyze change. In this project, the organization will build relationships with at least half of Oregon’s 200 law enforcement agencies, engage in rigorous program assessment, and deliver programs to communities across the state in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, courts, and community-based organizations.

The New Hampshire Citizen Assembly Project
The People, Inc.
📍New Hampshire

The People’s foundational goal is to support community members to increase their civic engagement, sense of community, and overall participation in the practice of democracy. They’ve been working in New Hampshire for the past 4 years, led by former State Representatives, one Republican and one Democrat. In deep partnership with New Hampshire residents, The People will facilitate a democratic process to build an action plan in reforming the state’s broken political system. It has three phases: (1) identifying key issues that matter to New Hampshire residents through small group deliberations; (2) prioritizing top concerns and solutions, including through a statewide citizen’s assembly; and (3) developing and launching an action plan to campaign for democratic reform. The goal is to make the political system more responsive to the will of the people through reforms which do not benefit one party over another.

Transforming Attitudes About Gender-Based Violence through Survivor-Led Peer Dialogues
Healing to Action
📍Chicago, Illinois

Healing to Action is working to address gender-based violence and centers low-income survivors of violence in Chicago. Because gender-based violence is framed as an individual problem, survivors are often blamed, doubted and stigmatized for coming forward. Healing to Action is building a powerful network of survivors through cross-cultural dialogue and grassroots organizing, shifting the existing narrative of survivors as “victims” to powerful leaders in the movement to end gender-based violence. This network will support leaders to advance facilitation, organizing, and mentorship skills, in addition to developing a partnerships strategy and series of peer-to-peer dialogues that explore the root causes of gender-based violence and create opportunities for collective solutions.

Uniting for Action on the Oregon Economy
Urban Rural Action

Widely felt across the nation, the ideological and cultural divides that fuel dangerous conflict have manifested in Oregon across an East-West divide marked by the Deschutes River, at the geographic center of the state. These tensions across ideological divides have fueled a secessionist movement in which many rural counties have voted for a proposal to secede Oregon and join more like-minded conservative neighbors further east in Idaho. Urban Rural Action believes that intergroup collaboration on local economic issues can address partisan divisiveness and hostility. Through ‘Uniting for Action on the Economy in Southern Oregon,’ we will bring together an ideologically, racially, generationally, and geographically diverse cohort of 28 Oregon Uniters in Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties to build relationships, strengthen collaboration skills, and address local economic challenges.

Youth Reimagining Education – Across Difference, Across Minnesota
World Savvy, Inc., Bridgemakers, and Youthprise

Minnesota is a purple state in transition demographically, economically and politically, where K-12 education has become a key place where deepening inequities and divisions are laid bare, with dramatically uneven outcomes for students. World Savvy, Bridgemakers, and Youthprise are three youth-serving organizations based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, with deep connections with communities across the state. They are investing in the leadership of students who want to collaborate across differences and improve education for all. These partners will co-create a set of youth-led, intergenerational listening sessions to understand what young people and other community leaders want to see in their schools. Then, teams of students and community members will choose an education challenge that was salient in their region and participate in a human-centered design process to generate actionable solutions that can be brought to local and state leaders.