Voices for Change
The stories we tell help us understand our world and build connections with others. Yet the stories we hear the most still disproportionately favor and represent a select few. By elevating underrepresented and unheard voices, we can strengthen our ability to value each other and our unique experiences. We can push back against narratives that undermine equity. And we can challenge injustice and apathy.
Voices for Change provides grant support for arts, storytelling, and journalism that lifts up unheard and underrepresented voices with the intention of creating a fairer and more just Montgomery County.
Through this strategy, we seek to elevate voices across race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, and ability, so the perspectives of these communities shape a more inclusive society and contribute to a broader cultural shift that recognizes and values the diversity of human experiences. In particular, we seek to support arts, media, storytelling, and journalism by and for communities and people excluded from traditional media systems.
By doing so, we can sow fertile ground for the structural and institutional solutions necessary to achieve greater racial and social equity.
Grants & Funding
As of May 2021, HealthSpark will be investing in Voices for Change through three projects:
- Expanding the Community Voices Fund in Montgomery County, in partnership with Independence Public Media Foundation and the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. The Community Voices Fund offers grants of up to $125,000 to support community-owned media, and community-connected news, information, and journalism addressing systemic inequities and systems that need to change. HealthSpark is contributing directly to the Community Voices Fund in order to increase funding to Montgomery County-based projects. This application is now closed.
- Continuing support for equity-minded newsrooms led by people of color. HealthSpark will be continuing its support for journalism that brings a strong equity lens into its reporting by investing in Generocity, the Philadelphia region’s only news source covering the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, always with a strong eye towards how issues of race, gender, language, ability, and power contribute to our region’s challenges and opportunities. We encourage our partners to subscribe to Generocity's newsletter here.
- Addressing news needs of underserved populations. In addition to our two grants outlined above, later this summer we plan to announce a third project focusing directly on information needs of Montgomery County residents who have traditionally been underserved by major news organizations in the county. We’ll announce more as that project takes shape.
Voices for Change updates our prior work in the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative to create a more informed and supportive public discourse around the social safety net. In recent years, we have done so by developing a public education campaign demonstrating the value of the social safety net, work which is now being advanced by the Here for Us Advocacy Coalition. Second, throughout 2020 we joined other regional funders in supporting journalism that examines equity in COVID-related policymaking through the Generocity TRACE project.
These experiences, as well as calls from our community through our Build Back Better sessions in summer 2020, have highlighted for us how critical it is to invest directly in “changing the narrative” about the social safety net and by the people who are supported by it. By “changing the narrative,” we mean changing who gets to give input into how our policies and institutions work, changing whose experiences are told and by whom, and changing how we tell stories about specific groups.
For far too long, the stories of Black, Indigenous, and people of color; the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Two-Spirit, and queer people; the stories of people with disabilities; the stories of immigrants; and the stories of many others are not told or are not told by the people and communities themselves. The lack of their stories, perspectives, and opinions in our public discourse has created, and been part of, a process to devalue their experiences and has led to a lack of public policy, legal protections, and opportunities that recognize their innate humanity and effectively support their ability to thrive.
As HealthSpark seeks to build a strong and resilient social safety net, we recognize that our collective ability to create responsive, just public policy is fundamentally tied to the breadth, complexity, and inclusivity of the stories we all hear. We recognize that investing in those stories will help to change the narrative- so that our advocacy and policy work can truly lead to justice and equity for all.