Hello and welcome!
My name is Courtney Phillips, and I'm one of the Co-Founders of Gumbo Media, which is a storytelling platform that exists to expand the narrative of Black life. We do so by creating space through three pillars and modes of public engagement: content, community, and brand services.
Me and my work with Gumbo Media was selected as one of the COVID-19 IFundWomen of Color Grant Recipients in partnership with Caress.
Below I've outlined more about our work in hopes to raise money and further support the work we're doing for representation in media. Thank you in advance for your support!
The Problem We're Solving
Take a quick glance at Black representation in the media landscape and two common narratives of Blackness often emerge: celebrity entertainment and monolithic stereotypes. While television and select innovative mediums are beginning to push the needle, the vast majority of Black Americans (and indeed Black people all over the world) straddle nuances somewhere in the middle, between the binaries thrust upon us.
Forty-six million. That’s the number of Black folks in the U.S. who rarely see their complexity or value reflected in the media or in societal culture--everyday voices swallowed by systems designed not to reflect us.
Our community deserved proper representation, to see images of ourselves living, thriving, expressing. We desired a community that could express in real-time, whether through community gathering or storytelling or through anger or joy or sorrow. We have grown resistant to the expectation that we must accommodate or conform to environments that don’t fully see, reflect or celebrate us. So we stopped asking for permission and built a space that does.
How We're Solving The Problem
Our content, community, and services-driven media platform opens space for free expression and equitable representation that Black communities (and other intersecting marginalized groups) have rarely been granted.
Our content pillar is our primary vessel and anchors all media, creating space for Black and Brown voices through Gumbo Magazine, a quotes database, Blackwords.co, several digital resources, toolkits, and publications, and a new digital network of workshops in direct response to COVID-19 called The Melan Network.
Our community pillar anchors our public engagement through dozens of programs (now digital) like game nights, networking socials, and wellness events, as well as our flagship fitness initiative, GumboFit, powered by Nike Running.
Our services pillar anchors client services, specifically through brand-identity and design, video productions, and content capture. We center diversity, equity, and inclusion in brand development, supporting dozens of small and large businesses alike.
Our content is evergreen, meaning it stretches beyond ordinary 24-hr cycles and stirs the topics that center everyday life, from the fringes to the mainstream. Our primary audience is Black millennials in professional, creative, and civic industries.
Why We're Seeking Funding And How We'll Spend The Funding
For the past 1.5 years, our platforms has become a source of joy, inspiration, safety, collaboration, and economy in our community, positioning ourselves as a thought-leader for Black expression and Black representation. Our work boosts the Black economy and centers the Black voice in the process.
And we’ve done this while not earning a salary ourselves, and while working from a small 100 square-foot home office, with a passionate, non-salaried Directors Team and intentionally minimal overhead. We’ve been lean, nimble, and fiscally responsible, readying ourselves for investment that will allow us to scale quickly and efficiently.
The challenge now is finding access to the proper resources, people, and institutions to receive capital to scale our business--especially in this rapidly changing and increasingly frugal climate for small businesses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
We would use all incoming funding to further invest in three things: 1) the operational overhead for our growing content engine, supporting the costs of curating and publishing innovative storytelling; 2) the operational overhead for Gumbo Media at large, easing the transitions we're making to optimize sales, distributions, and the promotion of our digital products and services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; and 3) providing foundational seed capital for the continued growth of our newest initiative, The Melan Network.
Our team and our process is our bloodline and what positions us well for investment and outside support.
Our primary team features two (2) full-time co-founders (myself--Courtney--and my partner, non-salaried), and six (6) fellow directors (part-time, non-salaried, and part equity-owners). All of us are Black or multi-racial, 50% of whom are women (with over 50% equity), each with at least 1.5 years in tenure.
Our broader team of paid consultants and content contributors includes 130 people across 6 continents, at least 95% of whom are people of color from a range of intersecting identities, bringing forth perspectives from the fringes of our culture to the mainstream.
Simply put, we are a force that has shown our commitment to this vision through sweat equity, innovation, and perseverance. Our team is ready for the opportunity to leave any other work behind and make Gumbo the venture that sustains them, continuing to build and grow collectively. With the proper backing, our capacity is undeniable.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
- Courtney Phillips + the Gumbo team