Nathan Cummings Foundation Announces New Fellows Tackling Inequality and Climate Change
Today, three innovators combatting issues of inequality and climate change were named Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellows. Each fellow will have up to $150,000 and 18-months to turn an inspired idea in the field of social justice into a world-changing reality. The 2017 fellows are: Anna Claussen, a Minnesota-based leader who will revitalize rural civic participation by engaging and empowering those communities on climate change policy through national Rural Climate Dialogues; Francisca Porchas Coronado, who will scale up work that began in Arizona to develop a national network of community healers who build resilience and restorative practices for immigrant communities currently facing criminalization and deportation; and Jasiri X, a Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist, who will train artists to become public advocates for social justice through the 1Hood Artivist Academy.
“These three fellows represent the heart and hope of the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s mission to build a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society. Now, more than ever, we must invest in transformative ideas that empower communities, strengthen civic engagement and bridge divides,” said Sharon Alpert, President and CEO of the Foundation. “We have chosen leaders who believe in the power of art, storytelling, dialogue and restorative practices to bring about the solutions we need. They have a bold vision for the future of America that is inclusive and sustainable, and I'm looking forward to working with them."
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation focused on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality. The foundation recently announced a decision to increase its giving in 2017 and 2018 to support its evolving focus.
About the Fellows
Anna Claussen is the director of rural strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and is passionate about challenging narratives that perpetuate racial, economic and geographic inequality. Recognizing that climate change is already impacting rural communities, Anna will develop a national Rural Climate Dialogue to engage and elevate the voices of rural Americans and advance inclusive climate change policies. Her work will leverage cultural narratives, transformative stories, and immersive experiences to shift the way people think and feel about climate change, and about each other, and empower rural communities to engage in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“Rural resistance to climate action has been viewed as a messaging problem by environmentalists rather than a need to better understand their challenges and involve rural citizens in designing a new approach to climate policy. We need to focus on solutions rather than assigning blame, and we can’t underestimate the power of stories to connect and empower people, and spur community innovation on climate change.”
Francisca Porchas Coronado is the organizing director of Puente Human Rights Movement and a leading voice in efforts to end mandatory immigrant detention and address the trauma experienced by frontline communities currently facing criminalization and deportation. Francisca will build a network of healers across the country that employ contemplative practices, such as meditation, expression through art, ancestral spiritual practices, therapy and bodywork to address the needs of the immigrant community. These teams will address community trauma, and provide guidance to frontline organizations on how to integrate healing practices into their work with immigrant communities targeted for deportation.
“Anti-immigrant policies are meant to break us, and we need to be whole to overcome oppression, heal from trauma and restore power in our communities. Incorporating healing and restorative practices will make our movement even stronger and more effective.”
Jasiri X is a Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist working at the intersection of art and activism. He is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Chicago Theological Seminary. Jasiri co-founded the anti-violence group 1Hood and the 1Hood Media Academy to teach youth of color how to analyze and create media for themselves, while achieving financial freedom and building wealth. Through this fellowship, he will develop the 1Hood Artivist Academy to cultivate artists and activists who use their voice to speak out against injustice.
“If there was ever a need for art activism, it’s right now. This Administration’s policies are literally killing people, and empowering the worst of our humanity. I want to create a space to train artists to become public advocates for social justice.”