Upswell Co-Create: Call for Session Ideas

Elements of Upswell 2023

You are welcome to submit ideas for consideration for three events this year: 

  • April 25: Upswell Pop-Up, virtual
  • June 20: Upswell Pop-Up, virtual
  • November 15-17: Upswell Summit, Dallas-Fort Worth

Leaders from around the country are encouraged to submit, but special consideration will be given to leaders in Dallas and Fort Worth to ensure our Upswell Summit program and design is reflecting those communities.

  • Workshops (Length: 45-120 minutes): Upswell workshops go deep, providing an interactive venue for honing or acquiring new skills, and a wide variety of ways to understand how changework happens. (Upswell Pop-Ups will feature only 60-minute workshops.)


  • Focus Groups (Length: 30 minutes): In small-group exchanges, you can hone-in on critical issues and explore challenges, lessons learned, and new solution, while receiving real time feedback from leaders across the country.

  • Spark Talks (Length: 20 minutes): These fast-paced, quick talks showcase a big idea to an engaged audience. 10-minute presentation and 10 minutes of audience feedback.

  • Science And Tech Demos (Length: 10-30 minutes): Science and technology innovations are rapidly advancing the ways we do changework. These demonstrations don’t tell you how – they let you actually experience the future with your own senses.

  • Arts (Length varies by activity): Unleash the power of the arts with interactive musical experiences, spoken word performances, visual performances, or any other artistic expression.

  • Wellness (Length varies by activity): We aim to offer a holistic approach on wellness to balance self and community care through physical activities, emotional well-being, meditation, spiritual practices, and more

*Please note only 60-minute virtual workshops will be accepted for our Pop-Ups in April and June. Space is limited.

Independent Sector Speaker Compensation Policy

Independent Sector is committed to equitably compensating its presenters and speakers.  

If you are speaking in a role during our Virtual Pop-ups as a staff or volunteer with a nonprofit or community-based organization, we will work with you on an honorarium for your speaking commitment. If you are speaking in a role during our In-person Upswell Summit as a staff or volunteer with a nonprofit or community-based organization, we will fully cover your 3-day registration to our event.  

In order to ensure our resources are being distributed equitably, we will not be offering an honorarium to workshop or Spark Talk speakers who are representing philanthropic or corporate institutions.

Program and Thought Leadership

Upswell creates a platform to elevate the insights from civil society’s most impactful and inspiring minds. Centering the experiences and voices of Black and Native leaders, other leaders of color, and other communities often at the margins of our society, each speaker brings their expertise, lived experience, wisdom, and bold ideas to guide our own paths toward a healthy and just nation. 

If you need some guidance here are some examples of past sessions: 

  • Transforming Society Through Bridging
  • You are Not What You Produce: Honoring Labor and Rest
  • Centering Disability in Pursuit of Racial Justice and Health Equity
  • Black Leaders Redefining Intersection of People, Animals, and Nature to Save the Planet
  • Federal Policy State of Play for Nonprofits
  • Power and Philanthropy: Co-Creating Equity

You can also watch these sessions and others on the Upswell On Demand page.

Frequently Asked Questions

The submission period for speaker proposals will begin on February 28, 2023. The submission portal will close on March 31, 2023. All submitted proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a diverse selection committee through April 

We will notify accepted proposals beginning mid-April.

All submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by Independent Sector’s diverse content review committee that consists of the Upswell team, key stakeholders, partners, community leaders, and specific cohorts of past attendees. Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Your content is unique, relevant/timely, and furthers the goals listed above.
  • Your ability to effectively deliver your content and engage participants in a virtual and/or in-person environment.
  • The session offers tools, skills, knowledge, and resources for the intended audience.
  • The session has clear and actionable takeaways.
  • Your title is engaging and provides a clear sense of your content.
  • Your description succinctly outlines key takeaways and provides a clear overview of the content to be presented.
  • Your session includes Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) speakers.
  • The session acknowledges that goodwill and good ideas exist on both sides of the ideological divide.

Upswell attracts a diverse group of leaders representing nonprofits, foundations, communities, corporations, government, academia, and other social good institutions and causes. This past year, 62% of our summit attendees identified as BIPOC and about 50% listed themselves as heads of organizations or c-suite/ senior level, or board members.


Focus: How do we achieve racial and social justice on all levels – personal, community, organization- and sector-wide, and in our society at large. What are the opportunities? What is standing in our way? 

Description: Your title and description should clearly and concisely outline your vision for the proposed session (and get participants excited, too). 

Outcomes: How do you plan to engage participants? Who is your ideal audience? And what are a few meaningful ways that your session will make the participants more effective changemakers? 

Time: What’s the ideal amount of program time you’d need to successfully deliver your session?  

Diversity & Inclusion: We aim to dedicate at least 75% of program space to the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and others who sit at the intersections of those identities. So, please include the demographics of your session presenter(s).

Absolutely! You can pitch an idea with friends, colleagues, or strangers. You don’t have to be at the same organization or even in the same field.


Yes! You can submit multiple proposals – just be sure the content is different and submit a separate form for each proposal.


Yes, you can modify your proposal submission by emailing us at


These are the answers to the most common questions we receive. If you don’t see your question above, please email and we’ll be glad to answer it.