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Grantee Gathering 2023: Sunshine & Sea-lebrations

By Robia Qasimyar

This blog is estimated to take 3 minutes to read.

Summer is known to be the season for festive fun in the sun and recharging rest. What better time, then, to host our second annual Grantee Gathering? We aimed to build on last year’s energy to bring folks together to connect and collaborate. Although we may technically no longer be experiencing a pandemic, it continues to impact our communities and permeate the ways we all work. All of us are still trying to determine what “post-COVID” looks like, and part of that is re-evaluating how we operate, seeking new or maintaining present partnerships, and learning from each other. Our team hosts this annual event for our grantees so they can explore these items with one another! We offer our partners this opportunity to network—meet new professionals and even catch up with old colleagues—in an environment that is casual and celebratory.

This year’s Grantee Gathering theme was Sunshine & Sea-lebrations! The Living Room at Mastercraft was a neat venue to host around 200 grantee guests. Folks were able to grab some summertime swag—beach balls, hand fans, bubble wands, stickers—before enjoying a flavorful lunch catered by House of Bah. To inspire conversation, we had some questions people could ask each other on the back of each nametag as well as networking bingo with fun prizes: succulents! Lawn games were scattered across one part of the hall—cornhole appeared to be the fan-favorite! Balloon sculptures by Evergrace Creations certainly added a vibrant touch, DJ Scottie Pigeon knew how to set a lively yet laid back atmosphere, and Abiola Kosoko was able to capture some cool shots throughout the event. After seeing handmade bracelet vendors at La Jolla Cove during a recent trip to San Diego, I thought it would be fun to set up a bracelet-making station at the Grantee Gathering. I noticed a ton of people gravitate toward that table and was excited to see such unique expressions of creativity!

Our team took a few minutes about halfway through to express our gratitude for grantees, reiterate intentions for the event, and elaborate a bit about our grant applications. Special thanks to those who humored me as I lived out some version of my talk-show host dreams, ha!

Regarding the Grantee Gathering overall, one individual wrote:

“I really wanted to say this was the best networking event I have been to. The prompts and overall welcoming atmosphere really made it easy to connect with fellow industry professionals.”

Another person noted:

“Having the opportunity to relax and enjoy a fun event and meet new people was great as well as reconnecting with like-minded people is energizing.”

We appreciate those who gave us feedback directly in-person, via email, or through our follow-up survey! Our team truly considers these comments and notes suggestions to inform upcoming events we host.

I send so much appreciation to all who not only attended our Grantee Gathering but also worked to make it a success. What a pleasure for us at the Weitz Family Foundation to witness and host so many community changemakers in one space. I hope that a few hours during an early summer afternoon left you feeling festive, recharged, and, of course, sea-lebrated!



Two people are in conversation. The person speaking is facing the camera and gesturing with one hand and holding a soda can in the other; the other person has their back to the camera. Out of focus are other people in the room.

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