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Flipping the Script

Connecting professional storytellers in Hollywood with frontline activists working to combat hate and division in the U.S. to effect change.

Photo of Bryan Funk
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans, a story is being told to foment division and incite hatred and violence. This story is based on fear of a changing economic and cultural landscape, and is rooted in blame: those people are responsible for our woes. It’s an us vs. them story that prays on the worst of human impulses. Organizations and activists across the country are working tirelessly on the frontlines of combating hate and division targeting racial, ethnic and, religious minorities as well as immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, and others. As small, relatively unknown entities, they’re working with little to no resources. With pipelines of resources to larger, mostly national nonprofits, virtually no pipelines exist to support grassroots efforts. In 2017, The Nexus Fund conducted an in-depth scoping of 400+ of these organizations and activists. Over and over, they told us about the need to tell a more powerful story that taps into the empathy and compassion. However, they don’t have the resources to do so effectively, and feel overwhelmed by our current national environment of open hostility and bigotry. As part of a larger effort, The Nexus Fund is launching a pilot project this summer to connect storytellers from the entertainment industry with local organizations across the U.S for 1:1 engagements. We hope to learn from this pilot and scale it. From the initial overwhelmingly enthusiastic response in Hollywood we are confident this is doable. With the storytelling talent provided by Hollywood writers directly to frontline activists, these individuals and organizations will strengthen their ability to translate their incredible and inspiring work into a compelling story that can be shared widely with potential donors, partner organizations, and the grassroots base championing their missions forward. We're equipping activists to flip the script on hate.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of this project will be the organizations and activists on the frontlines of combating hate and division in the U.S. who will be given 1:1 support from professional storytellers. However, the end beneficiaries of this work are those from targeted communities whom they are working within and/or in support of, including racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well as immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community and others.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are many initiatives to influence Hollywood to tell stories in movies and on television that are more inclusive and representative, and that fight stereotypes and combat hate. However, there are virtually no efforts to flip the script, so to speak, in order to provide support from Hollywood directly to the people combating hate in their communities. Their skills, resources, and enthusiasm for these issues and supporting targeted communities has remained largely untapped. This project will not only tap this community’s vast resources, but also create meaningful and lasting 1:1 relationships for organizations and activists who often have little to no access to critical resources. This means that our project will both offer the skill building to create more impact in real time while also building a more sustainable civil society infrastructure for the longer term.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Nexus Fund works to prevent mass atrocities (genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity) around the world and to combat hate and division in the U.S. in order to prevent identity-based violence; we do this by listening to what the people on the frontlines need and provide the resources they tell us they need.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
  • Other

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In 2017, we talked with organizations and activists working in communities across the country on the frontlines to combat hate and division, learning about their challenges and needs. Over and over, activists told us about the need to tell a more powerful story that effectively taps into our common humanity. However, they do not always know how to do so effectively, and feel overwhelmed by the challenge of our current national environment of open hostility and bigotry.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Given the alarming rise of Dangerous Speech in the U.S., in 2016 we teamed up with expert partners and expanded the scope of our work to include programming in the U.S. Our role is to create opportunities to put the much-needed resources in the hands of frontline experts and organizations working to create safer, more inclusive communities for lasting impact. Furthermore, our U.S.-based staff members have individually been working on these issues in the U.S. for many years and are themselves representative of targeted communities, including racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The professional writers who have already signed up to participate in the pilot project have written for shows including The Office, 30 Rock, The Leftovers, The Mindy Project, Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live, and many others. Our hope is that by shepherding 1:1 engagements, there will be a number of positive outcomes, including the creation of a pipeline for funding and other resources directly to these organizations and activists. We will invite organizations and activists from red states and rural areas to apply for 1:1 engagements with these storytellers, which may last up to three months (or potentially longer). The Nexus Fund will shepherd the process and ensure that all parties are fulfilled by the engagement.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

These are some of the best storytellers in the world who are eager to put their skills and potentially other resources to work for those on the frontlines of combating hate and division in the U.S. It’s a misconception that all people in Hollywood are out of touch with “real America” - these writers are from states across the country, and bring a wide array of diverse experiences with them.

Geographic Focus

Red states and rural areas in the U.S.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The pilot phase will last 3-6 months with a plan to scale.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Christophe Parot

Hello Bryan Funk I have a story that need illustration, going to send it to the Nexus Fund. Thank you for your idea.

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