The CAA Foundation and the Pop Culture Collaborative have teamed to help bolster underrepresented storytellers with the newly launched initiative Evolutionaries, a collective of movement leaders, cultural organizers, and civic activists who are harnessing the power of storytelling to create change. The new initiative aligns with the two organizations mission to help amplify voices of historically marginalized communities.

These individuals have spent their careers leading organizations, and creating national influence to create systemic change towards a more just and pluralist society. Each Evolutionary was selected as a result of their proven commitment to being agents of social change, and ability to use the power of storytelling to transform narratives. The Evolutionaries will respectively advance a project – from books and podcasts to performance art, with the goal of scaling their message to reach mass audiences to inspire public engagement. 

“For over 25 years, the CAA Foundation has activated popular culture to create sustainable, positive social change,” said Natalie Tran, Executive Director, CAA Foundation. “We are thrilled to partner with the Pop Culture Collaborative to launch this unique program, which uplifts the voices of movement leaders as storytellers who show us how to create a more just and equitable world for all.”

“In order to transform systems and end policies that create barriers to equity and justice, movement leaders need a solid bench of experts and strategists to help them achieve their vision,” added Rupa Balasubramanian, Vice President of the Pop Culture Collaborative. “With the support of the Pop Culture Collaborative and the CAA Foundation, these storytellers will help Americans of all backgrounds reckon with our past, make sense of our present, and unite us with a shared vision of a pluralist future.”

Read bios of the inaugural class of cohorts below:

  • LaTosha Brown, the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, BVM Capacity Building Institute and founder of the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium. Brown will be advancing a multi-media theatrical project that will evoke humanity, and through spirit, strategy and song, use it as the key to overcoming racism and oppression. The project will incorporate song, LaTosha’s powerful speeches, photography, visuals, and more to bring people in community together to shift narratives. 
  • Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee) is the founder and Executive Director of IllumiNative, a national Native-led organization focused on changing the narrative about Native peoples on a mass scale. In the startling wake of the legacy of Canadian residential schools for Indigenous people, Echo Hawk will be producing a podcast that will follow Native peoples as they investigate these schools in the United States, where there were almost 400 schools in 25 states designed to separate Indigenous Americans from their families, and set forth cycles of generational trauma.
  • George Goehl, Director, People’s Action, the most robust, race-conscious rural organizing and persuasion program in the United States. In his work as an Evolutionary, Goehl will expand on his groundbreaking work to reach rural Americans and engage them in the fight for social justice. During the Trump presidency, Goehl built the largest progressive rural organizing program in the country, and will now launch a collection of direct organizing and mass storytelling projects that will reach millions of low-income and everyday people who are hurting and need justice, but are overlooked by much of today’s progressive movement.
  • Cristina Jiménez, Co-Founder and former Executive Director, United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Jiménez is developing a book that is intended to be an intervention in the narrative about immigrants in this country, calling for audiences to confront the deep history of white supremacy and anti-Blackness that has shaped the modern-day American immigration system and inspiring us to build a truly inclusive America together.

Over a nine-month period, each Evolutionary will receive $50,000 from the Pop Culture Collaborative’s Becoming America Fund and the CAA Foundation to support their nonpartisan projects, curated mentorship from the CAA Foundation, and access to Pop Culture Collaborative’s Abundance League – a collection of experts, advisors and coaches across public relations, social media strategy, content production and digital marketing.

“Storytelling is an entry point to help accelerate change in the conversation around immigrants and immigration,” Jiménez said. “Through cultural content, we can reach people not in our circles, we can activate more people to take action, and build bridges of solidarity and mutuality.”

“We have to create stories that show that humanity can win,” Brown added. “We can either wait on liberation, or we can design a liberated life. The only way to overcome racism and oppression is tapping into people’s humanity and creating cultural spaces that transcend religion, gender, and race.”  

Goehl said: “As a country, we are in the ultimate ‘meaning making’ moment. For us to deliver the change that this moment calls for, we need to talk with lots of people beyond those who think just like we do. This means veering directly into those hard conversations with our neighbors, and doing the storytelling that shows what is possible when we come together across differences and truly see each other. By engaging more of us, we can move big transformative ideas from being part of the debate to becoming real tangible change in people’s lives.”  

 “We are in the midst of a beautiful moment for Native peoples,” Echo Hawk said. “Americans are starting to see us in a contemporary light and politically and culturally, things are starting to shift. It is important to build on this cultural awakening to help people across the country and political spectrum understand the history that connects us with what is happening in our country. In order to move forward, we need to have reconciliation, healing and justice. Telling our stories, sharing our culture, and activating our allies will help achieve that.” 

 For more information about Evolutionaries visit here.