LETTER FROM OUR PRESIDENT

2023 was an eventful year for The Opportunity Agenda, marked by a revitalized network and fresh beginnings.

Reflecting back, we have accomplished much that we are proud of. We trained hundreds in narrative and cultural power building, empowering them to craft compelling stories of truth and justice. The launch of the Narrative Innovators Lab, the next phase of our programs, aimed at fostering innovation in communication and cultural leadership. Our research laid the groundwork for immigrant-welcoming communities and reignited civic engagement in the South. Additionally, we unveiled a new website and brand.

We’ve also strengthened our foundation, welcomed new funders, and initiated two key projects: the Immigrant Narrative Strategy Table and the Health Equity Communications Lab.

Community is where true magic happens. We, staff, partners, donors, and community members, are interconnected threads in an extraordinary tapestry.

Together, we can shape a future where all are welcomed, creativity thrives, the environment is cherished, and everyone has a voice. However, obstacles lie ahead. The far-right seeks to undo our progress through violence and institutional dismantling. We must resist their vision of a world dominated by white supremacy, patriarchy, and discrimination.

But we are not giving up.

That’s where you come in. Your creativity and commitment are vital in painting a vision of a brighter future and inspiring action.

Let’s continue to harness narrative and cultural power. One story at a time, we’ll bend the arc of history towards justice. Thank you for being part of this journey.

Adam Luna

acting president

GET TO KNOW THE OPPORTUNITY AGENDA

Where we’re on a mission to make our country a truly fair and inclusive nation. Our vision is clear: a culture of opportunity, community, and equity, breaking down barriers of race, gender, and more.

We challenge the impact of white supremacy by promoting narratives that support opportunities for all.

Join us as we reshape the narrative to achieve a future where opportunities are accessible, voices are heard, communities thrive, equity prevails, and safety is a right for all.

Our values are

STRAIGHT FORWARD

  • Opportunity: Everyone deserves the chance to thrive.
  • Voice: Every voice matters in building a healthy society.
  • Community: Strength comes from connections, guided by an anti-racist approach.
  • Equity: All have equal rights, inherent dignity, and potential.
  • Safety: Everyone has the right to live securely.

 

NARRATIVE WHEEL

The Opportunity Agenda approaches narrative change as a cyclical process in which we:

WORK WITH PARTNERS to identify the roadblocks they see when trying to change minds, and what they need to overcome them;

RESEARCH to identify the stories people are carrying around in their heads and what new messages are most effective;

DEVELOP STRATEGIES using communications and culture that identify who we need to reach, who they need to hear from, and how best to reach them;

IMPLEMENT those strategies by disseminating, training, coordinating, convening, briefing, and supporting leaders who have reach and influence;

ASSESS what is working and what is not. And then, back to the beginning…

“WE NEED TO NOT ONLY IDENTIFY PROBLEMS, BUT ALSO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS.”

OUR IMPACT

_01. Promoting Civic Engagement

In 2023, through our ground-breaking Beyond Democracy program, we gathered 24 advocates, activists, and creatives across the South to build a collaborative narrative framework around civic participation.

Equipped with our communications tools and resources, cohort members worked in community to develop individual projects that seek to reshape how we talk about self-governance in a more resonant and compelling way and move BIPOC communities from disillusionment with politics to active engagement.

 

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Spotlight On

BRIANNA BROWN

Brianna Brown, a member of our distinguished Beyond Democracy cohort in 2024, is a 4th generation Texan and co-executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, the largest grassroots, community-based organization in Texas. The new documentary, “Texas, USA,” highlights Brianna’s incredible work to mobilize voters, champion equitable policies, and make Texas a more inclusive and just place for all while capturing how the political battleground of Texas is shaping the political landscape nationwide.

_02. Shifting public opinion on immigration

Our Narrative Research Lab (NRL) is home for all things related to narrative in the immigrant justice space.

Comprised of a digital library and a monthly webinar series, the NRL highlights past and emerging research shaping narratives within the immigration movement and expands access to messaging guidance for communicators and advocates. In 2023, we brought together 700 leaders in the immigration field to share research, develop narrative strategies, and build campaigns.

_03.

BUILDING LEADERS FROM ACROSS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE SPECTRUM

A cohort of bold, forward-thinking communicators and creatives make up our new Narrative Innovators Lab (NIL), launched in 2023. Under the NIL, fellows in our signature Communications Institute and Culture & Narrative Fellowship learn narrative and cultural strategy skills to develop creative stories, imagery, and other cultural resources that touch hearts and shift perspectives. Innovative in its design, the NIL provides communications professionals the chance to see close-up how artists engage with challenges and opportunities and offer artists the opportunity to see how activists and advocates do the same. In 2023, we supported 22 fellows who went on to develop bold interventions

In 2023, we supported 22 fellows who went on to develop bold interventions. Meet some of our NIL Fellows!

team member avatar

Brittany Cheatham,

Communications Manager, Forward Justice

this has reminded me of our collective power… we can use the [cultural] things that we own and develop and define to change and create a better world for ourselves.”

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Alice Tianyi Liu,

Co-Director of Communications, West Street Recovery; Gulf South for Green New Deal

when i think about how i want to bring art to my organizing work, i really want to focus on how art can be a way of bringing people together and not just, like, speaking to an audience on the other side.”

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Salomé Egas,

interdisciplinary performer, arts educator, and children's book author

something that i learned at toa is to focus on what values do i want to put forward when creating my work as an immigrant artist…being able to bring my into values, to think of how we can feel also belonging and that we deserve to feel belonging, we deserve to be living dignified lives, and we deserve to experience joy when creation art.”

_04.

PROMOTING CREATIVITY FOR CHANGE

Every year, we bring together a diverse group of leading artists, entertainers, media makers, advocates, activists, and funders to our renowned Creative Change Retreat. There, these leaders and influencers build community, share and learn new strategies, and develop creative ideas for creating an irresistible future where everyone is equal.

In 2023, in the beautiful Santa Ana Pueblo of New Mexico, 60 creative leaders came together under the theme “futurescape” and hatched a number of innovative ideas to make a just, equitable future a reality. We are looking forward to seeing how these ideas will come to life over the next year.

Things to come in 2024

 

IMMIGRATION NARRATIVE STRATEGY TABLE

Over the last decade, the conservative right has stoked fear against immigrants, leading to greater hardships and limitations for refugees and immigrant communities.

Research tells us that stories that reflect a positive vision of a multi-racial society and include immigrants as real people can inoculate audiences against the anti-immigrant narratives that are driving policy-making and public fear.

By launching the Immigration Narrative Strategy Table, we are bringing together both advocates and artists to advance much-needed pro-immigrant narratives by developing messaging, imagery, videos, films, and more. In community, they are working through a coordinated strategy of collaboration, capacity-building, and investments to use narrative to counter political headwinds working against the vision of a multi-racial society.

 

HEALTH EQUITY COMMUNICATIONS LAB

Our country continues to be divided by deep inequities in health, especially across race. There is an expanding effort to use culture, media, influencers, legislation, and judicial decisions to deny this reality, and to discredit and restrict attempts to discuss and address these disparities.

To change the conversation around health equity, The Opportunity Agenda has partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support a health equity communications lab that will provide advocates with the strategy and tools they need to proactively engage and respond at key moments in order to bring people together toward this shared goal.

FUNDER & DONOR
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We are deeply grateful to all the people and organizations who have generously shared their time, labor, and resources to stand side-by-side with us in expanding opportunity for all. This is what our funders said about why they chose to work with us:

the opportunity agenda’s shift to integrate all of its capacities – research, cultural and narrative strategy, strategic communications training – positions it to make an even greater impact in the next decade.”

adey fisseha, us senior program officer, unbound philanthropy

toa breaks through issue silos by creating spaces for people to come together across immigrant rights, economic and racial justice to learn new strategies to advance narrative change toward a multi-racial, inclusive democracy we need.”

tanya coke, director, gender, racial, and ethnic justice, ford foundation

the opportunity agenda occupies a unique space. toa lifts up the stories, film, and art that show us what’s possible, while helping to amplify messages that unite us.”

martiza guzmán, toa board member

at a time of unprecedented division and distrust, the opportunity agenda’s work seeking to find common values and providing resources to help individuals and organizations bridge gaps has become more than important. please help them in this work with your most generous support.”

dennis parker, monthly donor

WE NEED YOUR HELP

Your gifts allow us to reach more partners, from the national to the grassroots, providing the folks doing the work everyday at the frontlines with what they need to succeed.

Monthly giving gives The Opportunity Agenda a more consistent and reliable base to grow from.

Our social media platforms are our tools to respond to important events with effective narrative and cultural recommendations and to tell more people about the work of our community. We need support to expand our reach and get those narrative change strategies to work. Follow and share!

ENGAGE WITH OUR PARTNERS

The artists we support are creating amazing cultural projects that explore new ways to engage people. Check out their work and spread the word!

From ’23 Fellow Marcos Echeverria Ortiz, Where We Were Safe is an ongoing interactive oral history map/archive that focuses on collecting memories about the lost and destroyed Salsa music places in New York City, such as ballrooms, clubs, record stores, and outdoor venues.

You can view the project and contribute to it at whereweweresafe.org

From ’22 Fellow Josh Healey, and executive produced by Rosario Dawson, comes the 5-epsiode web series Normal Ain’t Normal, based on real people’s stories, that explores the struggles, absurdities, and surprising possibilities of working-class people navigating the strange, “post” COVID terrain across the United States.

Watch Normal Ain’t Normal on the BuzzFeedVideo YouTube Channel

From ’22 Fellow Annie Del Hierro-Jost, Flatbush Faces and Voices uses video, photography, and a mosaic mural installation to build relationships and share the lives and experiences of residents of the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, one of the most diverse communities in the city.

You can see the mural at the Parkside Avenue side of 724 Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn and you can view the interviews with community members on Instagram at @flatbushfacesandvoices or YouTube @flatbushfacesandvoices4894

introducing people to a new way of thinking about an issue requires a carefully considered message. toa provides a proven framework for building a persuasive message: value, problem, solution, action (vpsa).

our interactive vpsa message building tool will guide you through the process.

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