Over the years, the Center for Public Interest Communications, the Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), and Milli developed intentional relationships through our collective work in social-justice communications. In 2019, we applied for the Gates Grand Economic Challenge together and earned a modest grant to collaborate on a project focused on narratives about poverty. Early on, we decided to focus on both poverty and wealth narratives to tell a complete story about how the rich get rich and why the poor remain poor.
We co-applied for the grant because each of our formations specializes in specific fields: the science of storytelling, narrative power, and interactive design, respectively. We started this project with “teach-ins” during which we could teach one another what we do and how we do it.
We started our collaboration in the summer of 2019 and worked together through the pandemic, personal loss, and hardship, as we principally struggled to collectivize our values, ideas, and labor. Over the years, we have gotten to know each other—what inspires us, what makes us human, and what makes us passionate actors for social change. It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it. Through this project, we wanted to focus on the nonprofit community to which we belong. Most of us are doing our best to create a more just world, and sometimes we inadvertently do more harm.
BROKE is an opportunity for each of us to examine the stories we tell about poverty and wealth, and to work together to build new narratives rooted in the wisdom of lived experience, narrative power, organizing for economic justice, and social science.
The insights from BROKE help us understand where and how we can grow and transform as a community of activists, communicators, storytellers, and strategists dedicated to building a free and just world in which all people can live authentic lives with dignity.
The Center for Public Interest Communications
The Center for Public Interest Communications studies, tests, and applies the science of strategic communication for social change. The Center works with change agents around the world to understand the behavioral, cognitive, and social science that affect how people think, make decisions, and behave. Through the use of science, systems thinking, and human-centered design, the Center helps organizations create and implement powerful communication strategies that result in lasting change.
The Radical Communicators Network
The Radical Communicators Network (RadComms) is growing and strengthening the ecosystem of social-change communications by bringing together a global cohort of communicators to cross-pollinate conversations across a variety of movements, organizations, levels of experience, geographies, languages, and political associations. With more than 5,000 members across almost every U.S. state and in at least 20 countries, RadComms is a networked community that expands beyond local bounds to transform political opportunities into long-term social protest or change.
Milli is an award-winning, purpose-driven creative agency specializing in strategy, content creation, and social media. Milli leverages the power of technology, art, and culture to create a more connected, engaging, and just world.
This project would not have been possible without the partnership of Southerners on New Ground, Action Center on Race and the Economy, The Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers, Economic Security Project, and Invisible People.
Thank you to Omidyar and the Gates Foundation Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge for the platform and resources to develop this project, and to Purpose for their stewardship.
We are deeply grateful to the people who contributed their talent, skill, and creativity along the way, including Natalie Asorey, Jack Barry, Jamila Aisha Brown, Tomme Faust, Michael Huang, Beth Jacob, Brenda Luu, Sarah Main, Brendan Martin, Shanelle Matthews, Nirmala Nataraj, Annie Neimand, Anastasia Nylund, Rakeem Robinson, Mark Rottensteiner, Ann Searight, Heena Shah, Matt Sheehan, Trina Stout, Lisette Tolentino, and Zakyree Wallace.