Are You a Grassroots Media Superstar?

Rachel Wallis

Over the past year, Crossroads Fund has been working hard to improve our communications, both online and off. We revamped our website, added a blog, created grantee profile videos, revamped our newsletter, and upped our game on Facebook. Often our media ideas and inspiration come from our grantees, many of whom are grassroots media superstars!

Here are a couple of current and former Crossroads Fund grantees who are using media to get their message out in new and exciting ways:

Southside Together Organizing for Power and Fearless Leading by the Youth:

Protesters occupy a closed mental health clinic. Photo by Sarah Jane Rhee. STOP and their youth group FLY have used creative protests and courageous direct action to get media coverage for issues that often go unseen, from cuts in mental health services in Chicago, to the lack of a trauma center on the city’s South Side. Their “Thriller” flash mob got mentioned in a Chicago News Cooperative/New York Times article, and their ongoing occupation of a mental health clinic slated to close has been making headlines for weeks.

United African Organization:

African Voices

United African Organization is making the most of their online presence. Over the last year, they have added a blog to their website, which features news and analysis of interest to the community of African immigrants and refugees that they work with. They also launched the “African Voices” podcast, an online oral history series highlighting the diverse African community in Chicago. Their increased online presence has paid off with national media attention: UAO Executive Director Alie Kabba was named one of the The Grio’s “100 Leaders Making History Today.”

Grassroots Collaborative

Protesters deliver a golden toilet to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Photo by Grassroots Collaborative. It’s not every day that a golden toilet makes it onto the pages of the Chicago Tribune, but Grassroots Collaborative’s creative and amusing stunt shamed the Chicago Mercantile Exchange into returning tax money they had received from the city to upgrade their bathrooms. From public bake sales to outdoor classrooms, they use public protest to draw the media’s attention to dry economic issues.


Illinois Safe Schools Alliance

When the “It Gets Better” campaign sparked a national conversation about bullying and LGBTQ youth suicide, something was missing from the conversation: the voices of LGBTQ youth, many of whom are organizing to make their situations better today. The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance shot a fantastic new video, “Dear 40 Year Old Me,” highlighting the stories of many of their youth leaders. It is beautifully produced and makes a strong case for the value of their work with LGBTQ youth in Illinois.


If you wish you could up your media game to the level of these inspiring grantee groups, then check out the Community Media Workshop’s Making Media Connections conference this June! We attend the conference almost every year, and always come home excited and energized by what we hear there. Learn strategies and build skills around social media, pitching to news outlets, blogging and more!

Discount rates are available for the Crossroads Fund community, contact for more info.