Community Learning Series: Partnering with Emerging Black and Brown Leaders

Two years ago, the Community Foundation established new partnerships with Black and Brown leaders of emerging nonprofits. The Thrive Cohort, launched in early 2021, was an opportunity to both support, and learn from these emerging leaders.

On November 10, over 70 community members gathered at the Cedar Rapids Public Library to hear from the participants about the experience.

Cohort members included Keeyon Carter (Wellington Heights Community Church), Mugisha Gloire (United We March Forward), Leslie Neely (Advocates for Social Justice), and Bridgette Williams-Robinson (Bridge Under the Bridge). Keeyon, Bridgette, and Mugisha spoke at Thursday’s event, with Tamara Marcus filling in for Leslie.

The four panelists shared how meaningful it was that an organization would invest time and money in them and their work.

“Having the Community Foundation and the leaders from their networks come talk to us was invaluable,” Keeyon said. “For some of us, there’s always this imposter syndrome, where you don’t feel like you belong in the room. But there was some empowerment because our voices mattered as well.”

The four organizations represented at the event provide a wide range of services for the community and its people—everything from food pantries to advocacy for policy change. All four spoke passionately about using what they learned and the connections they made during Thrive to help them serve their organizations and the community now.

“It is an honor to work alongside these leaders and offer support for their organizations,” said Carrie Walker, Nonprofit Network Manager. “The Thrive Cohort has been an impactful experience for all of us.”

View a recording of the event here.

To view photos from the event, click here.

The 2023 Thrive Cohort is currently being assembled—learn more and nominate a colleague (or yourself) here.

Featuring Thrive Cohort Members:


Mugisha Gloire

United We March Forward

Bridgette Williams-Robinson

Bridge Under the Bridge

Tamara Marcus

Advocates for Social Justice

(Representing Thrive Cohort Member Leslie Neely)