2021 Upswell Summit: Looking Back and Ahead at Our Inspired Future

Last week, changemakers from across the country – representing a rich diversity of experience, ideology, and mission – all asked ourselves the same question: When faced with the opportunity, how do we effectively approach the collaborative work of building a racially just and healthy society?

Uma Viswanathan of the New Pluralists Collaborative – a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, opened the first Main Stage of the 2021 Upswell Summit, with the answer: “Let yourself squirm in your chair. But stay in it.”

And that’s what we did – with incredibly difficult conversations, challenging discussions that would have been easier to hide from, and provocations to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and bring everyone into our community. We also were glued to our seats with mind-blowing insights from some of the sector’s brightest leaders, including the 2021 recipients of the John W. Gardner Leadership Award. Read on for Upswell Summit Day 1 highlights.

The opening Main Stage of Day 2 of the 2021 Upswell Summit held changemakers spellbound by two women who are literally woven into the fabric of the fight for racial justice in our country – LaTosha Brown and Angela Davis. They were joined in conversation by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence at PolicyLink, who challenged us to think deeply about the bigger picture of the United States – the one painted with a deeply troubled history and, more importantly, a malleable vision of a future either freed from or crippled by its past. Read on for more on that conversation in our Day 2 highlights, and learn what other leaders who joined us in a myriad of other Main Stages, workshops, Spark Talks, and other sessions throughout the day had to say to help move us, collectively, forward.

Over the first two days of the 2021 Upswell Summit, we focused heavily on trust and racial justice, first by understanding how intersectionality, bridging, and belonging factor into this work. Then, we focused on movement building, systems change, and public policy as critical pathways to a just world.

The third and final day of the 2021 Upswell Summit took us deeper into our own wellness and healing journeys, asking that we connect our self-care to community care. The day of deep personal care and reflection focused on the people most important to ensuring we meet our missions – ourselves. Licensed clinical and school psychologist, consultant, speaker and educator, Dr. Han Ren, led us in exploring how the primal moral emotions of shame and guilt affect us and the stages of learning to become antiracist. We closed with two young artists on the final Main Stage presented by the NAMM Foundation – J Dash and Grace Kelly – whose inspiring words and rousing music left us lifted and excited about our work ahead to build a healthy and racially equitable nation where all can thrive. And that was just the beginning and end of the day, with so much in between. Read on for more on the fullness of our closing day of the 2021 Upswell Summit.

Upswell, powered by Independent Sector, is a year-round opportunity for changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to come together to strengthen civil society and ensure that everyone in the U.S. can thrive. Join us on November 4 from 2 to 4 pm ET for our Upswell Exchange, where we’ll go deeper on these discussions and topics to build a racially just and healthy nation.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, Community, Dialogue, Dignity, Equity, Nonprofit Health, Purpose, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Upswell, Voice, Voices for Good
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Policy Issues: Civil Society Infrastructure