What the heck is the Upswell Accelerator?

What the heck is the Upswell Accelerator?

// By Jacqueline Brennan

Upswell community engagement is going to look a little different this year. Last year, we experimented with Upswell Labs, which were designed to get feedback and test new ideas leading up to Upswell LA. We engaged over 220 changemakers from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, and Chicago and learned a lot about what worked (and what didn’t) on the ground.

This year, we invited a group of Chicago-based leaders to steer our community engagement work through the Upswell Accelerator.

The Accelerator’s purpose is threefold. It will:

  1. Help to infuse the Chicago community’s best ideas and solutions into the Upswell program framework.
  2. Generate excitement for Upswell Chicago within local networks and ensure that diverse voices are a core part of the conversation.
  3. Design opportunities for the Upswell platform to support critical work happening in Chicago, lasting beyond the Upswell Summit in November.

We also invited a Chicago-based social impact consulting firm, Justice Informed, to facilitate the Accelerator’s work. Justice Informed is led by Xavier Ramey, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with changework in Chicago (we’ll share more about Xavier in an upcoming blog post!).

The Accelerator is chaired by Upswell Chicago Co-chairs, Dr. Helene D. Gayle, President & CEO at the Chicago Community Trust and Evan Hochberg, President at Crown Family Philanthropies.

During their first meeting on March 25, the Accelerator connected over conversation and Southern-style food at Peach’s, a local staple in the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood. The group spent the next day at the Chicago Community Trust, diving into the Upswell Chicago program and generating ideas for a longer-term project that could leverage the Upswell platform this year and beyond. The Accelerator will meet again in May to take a deeper dive into these initial ideas.

We’re excited to introduce you to the names and faces of the Upswell Accelerator in upcoming blog posts. The group will meet 3-4 times this year and we’ll keep you posted about how their work unfolds.

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