Real Results

In the corporate world, money managers ask “What is the Return on Investment?” We encourage our supporters to look at Netroots Connect in the same way – as an investment with a very high ROI.

Despite a limited budget, Netroots Connect is able to consistently create results that affect positive change in the LGBT and Allied community. Since our inception Netroots Connect has brought together hundreds of leaders in online and offline communities. Our model of organizing is what some would call “on the fly.” We prefer to think of it as “incredibly flexible.”

With each year comes a new milestone. Netroots Connect organized the first gathering of LGBT online citizen journalists and bloggers, launched a national media campaign around HIV that garnered over 2.5 million social media hits, and created the environment that gave birth to Scouts for Equality. We facilitated sessions that contributed to improved reporting of healthcare statistics for the transgender community and work to bring immigration and LGBT activists together.

In the online community, we have successfully integrated LGBT issues with the larger online activist community and we’ve supported emerging bloggers and leaders by matching them with mentors and support. Below you will find a number of the programs that have been a part of Netroots Connect. Take a moment to learn about our work on marriage, immigration, transgender equality, Scouts for Equality and HIV education. Don’t be surprised if your reaction is “wow, I didn’t know they did that.” We work behind the scenes to make things happen by empowering others to create change. We’re not looking for credit, we’re looking for our next success.

“A truly transformational session. I’m extremely grateful for all I learned, which will now inform my work going forward.”

-Seth Adam, Vice President, GLAAD

In the wake of the tragic deaths of scores of LGBTQ members of the Latinx community at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Netroots Connect was approached and asked to arrange a meeting of leading anti-gun violence activists and leaders from the newly emerging moment in the LGBT community to push back against gun violence. With less than two weeks prep time, we reached out and contacted dozens of leaders, secured funding for scholarships and designed a day-long program which, for many attendees, was the first time they had interacted with groups doing similar work.

Netroots Connect worked with LGBT leaders from large organizations, activists, elected officials and anti-gun violence leaders. In addition to the all-day Netroots Connect meeting, participants attended the 2016 Netroots Nation conference where they organized those interested in this important issue.

Without the community and relationships created by Netroots Connect, it’s a very real possibility that the BSA would still ban young men who happen to be gay.

-Zach Wahls, Founder, Scouts for Equality and Netroots Connect participant

 

In February of 2011, then 19-year old Zach Wahls spoke to the Iowa state legislature about his experiences growing up as a young man raised by two women in the state. His passion and presence were an indication of things to come. Within months of Zach’s passionate plea for fairness the Iowa Supreme Court ruled preventing marriages for same-sex couples was discriminatory under the Iowa constitution. Zach’s speech that day was an opening step onto a national stage that would set the way for his continued involvement in the quest for equality. In mentioning his membership as an Eagle Scout, Zach help to charge up the movement seeking a repeal of the Boy Scouts’s policy or prohibiting young gay and bisexual men and teens from being a member of the organization.

Approached by GLAAD to assist with Zach’s participation, Netroots Connect facilitated their meeting in Providence in 2012. That meeting with GLAAD and a Netroots Connect scholarship launched Scouts for Equality at our program on June 7, 2012. Just 11 months later the Boy Scouts of America, directly due to the work of Scouts for Equality, lifted the ban. Now, Scouts for Equality has set its sites on the policy barring openly LGBT leaders in the organization. Netroots Connect continues to support those efforts, once again providing the organization with critical support at a time of opportunities for social change.

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Working in small groups, 2013 Netroots Connect attendees were prompted to think about current goals of our movement and how we can use the power of offline and online resources to address pressing issues. These groups shared their thoughts and then developed concepts for social media campaigns. One of these concepts, AIDS Isn’t Over, gave rise to a campaign born that day: #TESTME, an online social media project to educate Americans about National HIV Testing Day.

Within three days, the #TESTME campaign reached over 2.5 million social media hits. In addition to its extraordinary reach, the campaign attracted the attention and participation of the White House, the international (RED) Campaign for an AIDS free generation and an array of LGBT, Allied and AIDS organizations. Gov. Hoard Dean, a physician, participated as did a number of other political leaders like US Rep. Mark Takano. Organizations supporting the campaign include The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The Victory Fund, GLAAD, Center for American Progress Think Progress, PFLAG, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).

In addition to the campaign’s success in the online LGBT community, it also educated millions who engage in online media. The first step to dealing with HIV/AIDS issues is to be tested. We are proud to have contributed to the effort for self-awareness.

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Since our founding, Netroots Connect has been at the forefront of bringing together new media leaders and marriage activists. At our first convening in 2008 we included a panel that analyzed the results of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California. It was the first time activists, organizational leaders, bloggers and citizen journalists came together to talk about ways to help advance the LGBT movement.

And every year we’ve expanded our work. At our 2010 meeting we included marriage as one of two focus areas. As marriage has continued to grow in prominence, Netroots Connect has struck a balance between marriage activism and the many other issues facing the LGBT community. Through the generous support of Freedom to Marry, we have developed a marriage caucus as part of our online work. By dedicating a specific caucus to the marriage issue, we are are able to provide a place for new activists and allies to connect with our movement on one of today’s most prevalent issues. Marriage workshops and caucuses are among the best attended each year.

Image source: Flickr user bkusler

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Since our first gathering, Netroots Connect has had a strong commitment to inclusion for our brothers and sisters engaged in the struggle for fair immigration policies and laws. The struggle of LGBT equality and the development of fair immigration policies are inextricable. With the generous support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Foundation, Netroots Connect supports immigration activists from around the world to participate in Netroots Connect.

Over a dozen Netroots Connect scholarship recipients participated in a New Organizing Institute LGBT/Immigration Summit. It was the first time online journalists, bloggers, activists and leaders of traditional LGBT and immigration rights organizations worked together to coordinate their efforts. The New Organizing Institute is the fiscal sponsor of all Netroots Connect programs.

Working with leading immigration rights organizations, Netroots Connect has been able to fund the participation of immigration activists and leaders in the DREAMer movement at each of our gatherings. Undocumented immigrants are among the most underserved in the population. The challenges faced in an unfriendly “system” are only exacerbated when challenging LGBTQ identity issues are added to the mix. Working together we can include activists involved in this struggle.

Image source: United We Dream

healthWhat happens when Netroots Connect brings together health advocates, online social media experts and journalists with access to traditional outlets and the political world? We make change that affects our community every day.

In Providence, RI, Netroots Connect brought together leaders from the LGBT heath activist community with others to coordinate efforts to pressure the US government to improve guidelines for reporting in health care for transgender patients. Participants mapped out a plan including applying activist pressure at the proper points and arming journalists with information and the best routes of inquiry. The coordination led to necessary changes to the health care system. The result of our work? The Department of Health and Human Services was pushed into action. Dragging their feet may have worked well for the government, but not once the varied voices of Netroots Connect set out to make change.

Once again, the bringing together of online and offline activists, journalists and leaders made things happen.

Screen capture: Washington Blade