July 16, 2019
Last week, Voqal attended Netroots Nation in Philadelphia with the 2019 Voqal Fellows to wrap up another successful Voqal Fellowship cohort. As a first-time sponsor, Voqal was particularly excited for this year’s conference. As usual, Netroots Nation did not disappoint.
The day before Netroots Nation, Voqal started things off on a high note with the 2019 Voqal Fellowship Spotlight at the Asian Arts Initiative. In the morning, Adrian Molina led a storytelling training that provided the outgoing cohort an opportunity to develop the skills needed to continue to grow their projects post-Fellowship. The training culminated with an afternoon session, where the Fellows were able to pitch their projects to an esteemed panel of judges that included New Media Ventures’ Wes Panek, Presente’s Matt Nelson and Mobile Citizen’s Molly Fohn. The panel provided the Fellows important feedback on their projects that will no doubt help them as they look to grow their innovative ideas.
Thursday, the first official day of Netroots Nation, began with a number of exciting panels highlighting the great work of the progressive movement. We were particularly excited to attend a panel titled Racism and the Struggle for Digital Rights that included representatives from Voqal grantees Color of Change, MediaJustice and Free Press. The panel discussed a variety of digital issues that have arisen as a result of institutional racism, including the digital divide present in many urban communities.
On Friday, New Media Ventures hosted one of Voqal’s favorite parts of Netroots Nation, the New Tools Showcase. This event features pitches about new apps, products and technologies aimed at supporting a more vibrant progressive movement. Congratulations to New/Mode, the winners of this year’s showcase!
Not to be outdone, Voqal and Mobile Citizen took an active role on Friday with the Innovate and Connect happy hour. During the happy hour, Netroots Nation attendees heard about the Voqal Fellowship directly from past and current Fellows. In addition, Molly Fohn was on hand to share information on the low-cost, mobile internet that Mobile Citizen provides to nonprofits.
After such a strong beginning to the conference, it was great to wrap things up on Saturday with another slate of important panels and keynotes focused on everything from the student debt crisis to the fight to protect immigrants and asylum seekers. And of course, it wouldn’t be Netroots Nation without elected officials, community leaders, and candidates (including several presidential candidates), sharing their proposals for a more progressive and socially equitable future.
As expected, we left Netroots Nation feeling inspired and ready to continue the fight to create a more socially equitable world. It was amazing to see the active role so many of Voqal’s grantees and Fellows took at this year’s conference. We look forward to their continued efforts to create a more engaged and empowered public.