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Weitz Insights

Our First Grantee Gathering

By Robia Qasimyar

This blog is estimated to take 3 minutes to read.

Connection and collaboration. Throughout my nearly two years at the Weitz Family Foundation, these two words consistently came up in conversations our team had with grantees, especially when we asked what they were presently seeking. There were—and still are—so many organizations that sought to maximize positive community impacts by identifying other nonprofit partners, finding ways to enrich and complement each other’s efforts.

This got us thinking—why don’t we bring everyone together in one room? Our team discussed the possibility of not only offering an opportunity for our grantees to network with one another, but also a chance for us to celebrate the meaningful work organizations have done and continue to do. We were determined to see this idea through, so we organized our first-ever Grantee Gathering that took place last month at The Venue at Highlander!

We envisioned hosting a casual, daytime event where grantees could have fruitful conversations as well as relax and enjoy themselves. Intentional networking questions were featured on the back of name tags to inspire collaboration between organizations and connection between individuals.

A delicious lunch was served by local favorite, Best Burger. Desserts included ice cream, cookies, and popsicles. Several lawn games—giant Connect 4, anyone?—were set up outside for people to enjoy on the patio, where some folks also used the large bubble wands we had available on our mindfulness swag table. Our team took a few minutes for an informal presentation to introduce Dani and Emily as our newest members, share some brief information about our applications, and express our gratitude. A colorful summer theme—featuring our new brand!—certainly contributed to the room’s vibrant energy, as did incredible balloons from Evergrace Creations, DJ Scottie Pigeon’s music, and beautiful photography thanks to M. Julie.

Our team was thrilled to hear from so many attendees—both directly and through our follow-up survey—that they enjoyed the space to gather and grow their networks. One person wrote:

I had an incredible experience networking with other professionals and organizations. I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed, casual environment. I felt as though I could truly connect with folks without feeling like I was under scrutiny to act or look a certain way under the guise of “professionalism.” Everyone was kind, cheerful, yet still focused on the goals we all are looking to accomplish at our respective organizations.

As a people-centered foundation, we were pleased to hear/read many comments like this that noted how the approachability and casual nature of our Grantee Gathering fostered feelings of friendliness and ease. We aim to take suggestions attendees made to inform events we may host in the future!

I shared this while I spoke at the event, but it was overwhelmingly lovely to see over 160 representatives from more than 100 of our grantee organizations together. The room was brimming with innovators and visionaries, with passionate people who pursue positive change. A community of connection and collaboration. Frankly, it made me emotional.

There is endless potential to transform our community into a more equitable place to live. Let’s inspire each other to be better and do better work—I know you can, I know we can. We must—and we will.

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