Ryan Coon is a program officer with The Sprout Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Pittsburgh. He explained the ‘”100 Days of US” project.
The Sprout Fund awarded $120,000 to 25 projects leading a civic response for the first 100 days of the new administration. Our team attended The Sprout Fund kick off party in Pittsburgh on Monday, January 9, 2017. We highlight four of the 25 recipients of these grants.
Coon: Many presidents are measured against, or even sometimes come into office, with their agenda for their first 100 days. We believe it’s just as important for communities and people to have their own agenda in these 100 days and see a clear way for them to take action and participate fully in our democracy.
Following along with the course of the electoral season in 2016, we started asking ourselves what can we do as a grant maker to help people continue to take action to protect and support the things that are important to them in the face of changes and division that the country is facing.
We wanted to be able to provide them with an outlet, provide them with some tools and empowerment to take action in response to those potential changes and to honor their ideas and their values. We wanted to give them the chance to demonstrate what an inclusive and welcoming America is and what an inclusive and welcoming Pittsburgh region is. “100 years of US” is a nonpartisan initiative.
We’re interested in supporting projects that cut across party lines and really are important to people and to communities regardless of their political affiliation.
We wanted to try to identify ways to bring people together to work together on issues of importance that might get ignored by one party, but are still important to people. For us it is a response to the political outcome, but it’s not a political project. It is about helping people take action on the things that are important to them.
“Shattered Glass” is a podcast supported by The Sprout Fund, created with Monica Hershberger, 27, Marita Garrett, 30, and Jessica Kaminsky, 30, of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg. Hear their first podcast.
Hershberger: We are recording the ‘Shattered Glass’ podcast. It’s a podcast of extraordinary women breaking the glass ceiling. So, we’ll be talking to lot of women in leadership and seeing how they got there and what barriers they faced. Onward and upward straight through the glass!
“That’s Us” is a project supported by The Sprout Fund, led by Elaine Harris-Fulton, Pamela Simmons and Latisha Jones from Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg.
Harris-Fulton: For our project, we want to increase voting by 2018. We want to do this by training 100 agents of change in 100 days. We’ll go out into the community and talk about the electoral process and what happened in this election, so they don’t feel disenfranchised.
Because the electoral votes picked the president this time, many people think that their vote doesn’t matter. We need to make sure we educate them on how the electoral process works and why it’s still important to vote.
“Ignorance to Action” is a group project supported by The Sprout Fund, that includes Moriah Ella Mason, 29, and Daniel Klein, 37, of Pittsburgh.
Ella Mason: From ‘Ignorance to Action’ means learning from and supporting our Muslim and refugee neighbors. We are organizers with Jewish Voice for Peace Pittsburgh and we’re collaborating with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh on a series of speaking events where Muslim and refugee neighbors from Pittsburgh are going to speak about their experiences to high schoolers, adults and communities around the region.
We’re also going to be doing neighborhood canvassing with posters and having businesses and families display them. The posters say things like, ‘Stop profiling Muslims’ and ‘Refugees Welcome Here’ and are a visible sign of support in the community.
The last part of our plan is that we’re going to be leading bystander intervention training so people can practice how to intervene when they see harassment of any type in a public space.
“She Runs Southwestern Pa.” is a group project supported by The Sprout Fund, that includes the work of Elaine Evosevic-Lozada, 43 and Sara Innamorato, 30, of Pittsburgh.
Innamorato: Pennsylvania ranks 14th out of 50 states as far as diversity in our government. So, it’s a really an abysmal state. So we really have to get more women in office. It’s non-negotiable because we make up more than 50 percent of the population. The way that we’re going to tackle this big issue is to start on a hyper-local level and to get more women elected to local office. We’re going to do that in three different ways.
1) We’re going to build a coalition of resources that already exist that educate women on how to run for office and also educate women on policies that affect their lives.
2) We’re going to do grassroots outreach and go into communities and talk about what resources exist, how to connect with them and find out really the barriers that are affecting women locally that are preventing them from running for office or even getting on the ballot.
3) We’re going to have a really strong social and digital media strategy and really be that hub — the one-stop shop where people can go to see what events are happening, what resources exist and really de-mystify the resources that are out there, and to how to connect to the organizations or get involved in campaigns for women who are running for local office.
David Crawford contributed to this coverage.
In ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ Nancy Andrews presents photographs depicting the diversity of voices across Appalachia. These portraits strive to show the varied faces, passions, issues and opinions from around the region. These interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity. If you have an idea for ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ please contact Nancy Andrews on Twitter @NancyAndrews or email at nancy.andrews [at] mail.wvu.edu.