Oakland Voices receives Akonadi Foundation Grant

quote from akonadi foundation about oakland voices
Akonadi Foundation supported Oakland Voices with a grant for local storytelling.

Akonadi Foundation awarded Oakland Voices a $25,000 grant to support local journalism and storytelling during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are excited that Akonadi Foundation supports our work, which is lifting up Oakland’s voices and shifting narratives about the Town,” Oakland Voices coordinator Rasheed Shabazz said. 

So Love Can Win Fund amplifies “vital stories”

Akonadi is an Oakland-focused foundation focused on racial justice. The So Love Can Win Rapid Response Fund awarded nearly 40 grants totalling almost a half million dollars to community organizers, healers, culture-makers, and journalists. The fund supports projects and organizations whose strategies focus on community organizing, healing justice, and cultural work. This year, Akonadi added “Voice.” 

The So Love Can Win rapid response fund supports journalists and media makers of color because they are essential to lifting up and amplifying the vital stories of Oakland’s Black, Indigenous and people of color communities, which is so critical in this moment. Oakland Voices is supporting journalism and storytelling that inspires and promotes cultural resilience and racial justice action.”

Akonadi Foundation

“The So Love Can Win rapid response fund supports journalists and media makers of color because they are essential to lifting up and amplifying the vital stories of Oakland’s Black, Indigenous and people of color communities, which is so critical in this moment,” Lateefah Simon, president of the Akonadi Foundation, said. “Oakland Voices is supporting journalism and storytelling that inspires and promotes cultural resilience and racial justice action.”

Oakland Voices is a flagship program of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Over the past 10 years, about 60 Oakland residents have completed the nine month storytelling program. Due to COVID-19, Oakland Voices postponed its 2020 cohort until the fall and refocused on engaging program alumni to create content for our website.

Telling Oakland stories during a pandemic

Since March, Oakland Voices has published over 80 stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We broke the news that most COVID-19 cases were in the flatlands of East Oakland. Alumni have also reported on the impacts on education, small business, faith communities, and shared their own unique experiences

As local COVID-19 cases increase and Oakland residents need strong journalism, local media is struggling. The East Bay Times recently put 13 employees on unpaid furloughs on April 6. Alternative publications like the East Bay Express and the Oakland Post still struggle to remain viable. SLCW will enable Oakland Voices to tell more stories and create more spaces for Oakland’s voices. 

Funds will be used to increase stipends for Oakland Voices alumni. Funds will also support Maynard Institute staff and provide honorariums for speakers and trainers in webinars. 

Akonadi plans to open a second round of funding on July 1 with $510,000 available to fund local efforts. 

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