January 30, 2019
“When you ask for funding, you get advice. When you ask for advice, you get funding.” – Voqal Fellow Maria Yuan
This past weekend, the newest cohort of the Voqal Fellowship came together in Denver at the Curtis Hotel to meet each other and share their projects.
The meeting kicked off on Friday night with a dinner where Fellows and mentors were able to meet one another and begin what was to be a successful weekend of peer networking and discovery.
Saturday morning started off with a drum circle aimed at stimulating everyone’s creative side. While such an engaging activity was hard to follow up, Voqal’s director of grantmaking, Brenda Williams-Sears did an excellent job with some impactful anecdotes and advice that really set the tone for the rest of the day including the story of her father’s encounters with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago.
Voqal’s grants and evaluation manager, Mary Coleman led an informative and well-received presentation that shared some background on Voqal, the Voqal Fellowship and the staff associated with the program.
This was followed by a panel featuring past Voqal Fellows Nick Guthman, Alicia Nieves and Micah White who shared their experiences with the Voqal Fellowship and provided invaluable advice to this year’s cohort.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rest of the day was dedicated to hearing about each of the individual Voqal Fellowship projects. Every pitch was inspiring and showed the great potential this year’s Voqal Fellows and their projects have for advancing progressive social change.
Another notable moment from the meeting included the always insightful comments from Voqal founder and president, John Schwartz who shared the origins of the Voqal Fellowship project and his thoughts on the future. In addition, the several mentors who were in attendance shared their background and what they could offer not only their individual mentees, but also the entire Fellowship cohort.
The meeting wrapped up on an extraordinary note when it was revealed that the “grants evaluator” in attendance was actually poet Adrian Molina who created an impressive poem based on the conversations and activities of the day. After sharing it with attendees, he led a brief discussion among the Fellows and mentors who ultimately agreed that it would serve as an excellent manifesto for this year’s Voqal Fellowship class.
As is often the case, we left his year’s Voqal Fellowship convening excited about the potential of these amazing individuals to affect real social change through their unique and innovative projects.
Learn more about the 2019 Voqal Fellows and their projects on the 2019 Fellowship page.