Reimagining Funding Partnership

Ronda Alexander and Camilia Beiner
By Ronda Alexander and Camilia Beiner

Vital Village Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) is built upon pillars of equity, dignity, and community-centered leadership. As NOW’s work has grown over the last several years, there has been an intentional focus on how to build and support local capacity to drive the transformation they want to see in their community. In the late spring of 2021 NOW partnered with 15 community champions from across the country to embark on a journey of reimagining funding structures to center, honor, and uphold the values of local communities and coalitions. The group began to explore cooperatives as a model for restructuring funding in a way that uplifted partnership rather than power. The practice of self-determination is a core principle of cooperatives movements and structures, which makes room for autonomy, while also celebrating the wide array of wisdom, knowledge, and talents that exist within our communities.

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VVN’s Social Media Goal: Fuel Collective Community Power

Tiffany Rodriguez & Camelia Garrick
By Tiffany Rodriguez & Camelia Garrick

Is your organization already using social media to lift up community voices and resources? What tips and tools do you have to share with organizations who are looking to begin using social media? Learn more about how Vital Village Networks is using social media to empower the communities with whom we work.

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Social Justice Transformation - All Minds, All Hearts, All Hands on Deck

Camila Beiner
By Camila Beiner

Creating a Village

A blog series profiling the work of community leaders across the country working to address the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice in their local communities. The series amplifies diverse leadership and the impact on communities, partnerships and members.

 

Latoya Gayle, a long-time leader with Vital Village Networks (VVN), has been an advocate for marginalized communities in Boston for many years. Gayle was first drawn to VVN when she participated in the Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP), an effort that aims to train community members in conflict resolution skills that can be used to help build capacity in various settings. When she first participated in the program, Gayle explained it really changed her perspective on conflict resolution because she learned an abundance of information during the 40-hour training. “It really has created a network of conscious conflict resolution advocates, and it really resonates with people who are doing such amazing community-based work already in the city… so this program is just something that they can add to their tool belt when working in their communities.” For Gayle, Vital Village is a unique organization because they focus their efforts on doing meaningful work that really connects and resonates with people. Many times, when organizations work in marginalized neighborhoods, Gayle said members of the communities feel they have been taken advantage of because they are left with no tools to really lift themselves up. Vital Village does the opposite of that, which motivated Gayle to become a co-director of Vital Village’s Social Justice Mediation Program. People in the program share their life experience and give perspective on specific conflicts their community is facing. The goal of the program is to provide the leaders with the necessary skills to solve the problems they are facing. Being a co-director of the program has given Gayle the opportunity to meet over 100 community leaders that focus on many different issues. “Vital Village really is my village. I am there for Vital Village but I know Vital Village is there for me, and that is so comforting and empowering. I know that if I need a resource or connection, there is someone in that village there for me, and I try to be that for others in the village as well.” From teachers to parents to social workers, Gayle has been able to support people through their journey and build a vast network of people.

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The Importance of Technology Justice

Jenna Novy
By Jenna Novy

 

This past year of change has forced many of us to become reliant on technology for connection. We learn, work, talk, laugh, collaborate (and maybe even binge watch) through our screens. This transition has tested us all in different ways, and technology access is often taken for granted in our rush to adapt. We may not even realize our reliance on technology until the Internet abruptly cuts out in the middle of a Zoom call or a laptop takes a tumble off the kitchen counter. Technology Justice is a fairly new concept, but its importance has never been highlighted more than now. One of the many important aspects of Technology Justice is ensuring that everyone has the ability to access technology that can assist them in leading a life they value. 

As Vital Village Networks planned for its first-ever virtual National Community Leadership Summit in October, we realized that although virtual events can offer more opportunities for engagement, they can also be restrictive. Some participants may need to share devices, don’t have reliable internet, or are uncomfortable with navigating a virtual platform. With this in mind, we looked to our local community to learn how other organizations were addressing these technology challenges.

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