Cultural brokers advance equity, create change

As one of four national participants in the Knight Foundation’s Community Information Lab, your Community Foundation had the unique opportunity to explore what it means to create the conditions for Latino Bilingual Cultural Brokers (LBCBs) to help drive decisions locally.

Specifically, the Knight Community Information Lab (KCIL) – an 18-month program that empowers foundations to better integrate information needs into their work through a human- centered design approach – comprises data compilation, focus groups, listening events, and interviews to identify and develop a design challenge that addresses local information needs.

“The first question we asked was, ‘How can we create the conditions for cultural brokers to support the Community Foundation’s equity vision?’” said Marta Loachamin, consultant and facilitator on the project. “The second piece was understanding the value of authentic storytelling by keeping intact the voices of the owners of the stories we share.”

According to semantic scholar Mary Ann Jezewski, cultural brokering is the act of bridging, linking or mediating among groups or persons of different cultural backgrounds for the purpose of reducing conflict or producing change.

“Following the principle ‘do nothing about us without us’ by working with – not for – our community, the challenge is to nurture transformation from the inside out, both as individuals and as institutions,”explained Chris Barge, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and team lead.

Taking an experimental approach inspired by cultural brokers working within our school districts, and building on the work of the Boulder County Office of Resilience and Recovery Cultural Brokers Resilience Program, the foundation’s new Equity Reporting Initiative is funding a Latino bilingual journalist to report for KGNU Community Radio, and to anchor a new TRENDS podcast.

“Equity journalism is directly rooted in listening to Spanish speakers and their stories in tandem with collaborative action,” Barge said.

According to Barge, “Consistent with the foundation’s North Star of equity, we’ve opened the door for ongoing experimentation that involves our community in identifying the best ways for stories to be told and widely incorporated in organizations and institutions across Boulder County.”

To learn more email Chris Barge or phone him at 303.442.3436.


by Sabine Kortals Stein