Upswell Podcast / Episode 9 / Live from Upswell ft. AOK

Upswell Podcast / Episode 9 / Live from Upswell ft. AOK

December 20, 2018

The wave has crested! For the final episode of the season, we take you to Los Angeles to experience Upswell 2018 - and there's a twist. We were lucky enough to have three student artists from DC-based AOK (All Our Kids) in LA to document Upswell. So, on this episode, we start with a conversation between Nabil Abdulkadir, Maureen Smith, and Bisah Suh about what changework means to them and what they thought of Upswell. Then, you'll hear five short interviews that the three conducted with changemakers on the ground in LA. 

Upswell Podcast / Episode 8 / Delphia Simmons / Mike Alvidrez

Upswell Podcast / Episode 8 / Delphia Simmons / Mike Alvidrez

November 12, 2018

Homelessness is among the most difficult and heartbreaking issues facing society today.

On Episode 8 of the Upswell Podcast, we tackle this intractable challenge with two changemakers whose organizations are taking on the complexities of homelessness and making headway, slowly but surely.

First we’ll talk with Delphia Simmons, Director of Passport to Self-Sufficiency at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter, one of Detroit’s largest providers of housing for homeless families and children. We’ll learn more about Delphia, and how her the Coalition is not only providing emergency housing, but also providing broader supportive services that offer families long-term solutions to create a more stable environment for generations to come.

Then we’ll turn to Los Angeles and Mike Alvidrez, CEO Emeritus and External Ambassador of the Skid Row Housing Trust. While he claims to be retired from the Trust, Mike is still deeply involved in their work to help LA residents grappling with poverty, physical and mental illness, disabilities, and addiction secure permanent housing and lead healthier and more stable lives.


Upswell Podcast / Episode 7 / Erica Page / Brittany Murrey

Upswell Podcast / Episode 7 / Erica Page / Brittany Murrey

November 2, 2018

When it comes to preparing community residents to be community leaders, ensuring that they have the skillsets needed for meaningful and gainful work is a must in today’s competitive environment.

And sometimes life circumstances present residents with challenges that require a little extra help to overcome employment barriers. Episode 7 of the Upswell Podcast is about workforce development, and two organizations – one in Detroit and the other in Los Angeles -- that are providing that extra lift up with great success.

Our first podcast guest, Erica Page, is youth services manager for the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation. As the city of Detroit’s workforce agency, they help Detroiters search for and find jobs, and provide job training, career advice, and other supportive services. They assist employers, too, helping them source or build the skills they need for their businesses, and find qualified job seekers.

Brittany Murrey, our second podcast guest, is business development manager for Homeboy Electronics Recycling in Los Angeles. They’re among the organizations that comprise Homeboy Industries, which provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and/or previously incarcerated men and women.

Homeboy Electronics Recycling, a woman-led social enterprise, provides recycling and data destruction services, offering “second chances to people, and electronics, that have been discarded by society.”

Uplifting people and communities. Addressing challenges. Forging partnerships. Changing things for the better. Sounds like the focus of Homeboy Electronics Recycling and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation are a perfect fit for Upswell’s mission, too.

Learn more about Upswell at

Upswell Podcast / Episode 6 / Derek Aguirre / Kim Johnson / Kayla Mason

Upswell Podcast / Episode 6 / Derek Aguirre / Kim Johnson / Kayla Mason

October 27, 2018

Our future depends in large part on supporting our young people with resources and experiences to develop into tomorrow’s involved citizens and leaders.

Fortunately, many social good organizations focus on youth development. We were lucky to have three individuals join us on the Upswell Podcast whose nonprofits put the needs of young people in Detroit and Los Angeles communities front and center.

Up first is Derek Aguirre, Executive Director of Racquet Up Detroit. They use the sport of squash as the “hook” to draw youth to their “out of school” mentoring program, which also includes academics and community service.

Detroit youth are also on Kim Johnson’s mind. She is President and CEO of Developing K.I.D.S, which offers enrichment programs for children ages 5-18 in community locations and two area schools. Their work, which engages youth in fun and fit activities, as well as academic and follow-through college and job preparatory support, has been featured in a major Detroit newspaper and local magazine.

Then it’s off to Los Angeles where we talk to Kayla Mason, Director of Expansion at The Future Project. With offices in cities across the country, this organization helps young people build the life and world they imagine.

You’ll hear how these three organizations take different approaches to a shared goal – ensuring that young people of today are prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow.

Upswell Podcast / Episode 5 / Anise Hayes and Eva Fordham

Upswell Podcast / Episode 5 / Anise Hayes and Eva Fordham

October 19, 2018

In the realm of transformative changework, the future looks much brighter if support our youth - particularly those who might not otherwise have important opportunities in their lives.

With tight budgets forcing schools to make tough program decisions, we talk on Episode 5 of the Upswell Podcast with two changemakers who are working to enrich young people enrichment with experiences that build character, expand their world views, and prepare them to be tomorrow’s informed citizens and leaders?

We meet Anise Hayes, Founder of Atlantic Impact, a Detroit-based organization that brings back the wonder of field trips – both locally in the Detroit area, and through international travel.

Then we talk with Eva Fordham, Vice President of Development at After-School All-Stars. Founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and with headquarters in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and chapters nationwide, they provide comprehensive after-school programs to help keep children safe and support future success.

Take a listen to hear how the missions of these two organizations take different approaches, but have the same intended result -- helping our children succeed in school and in life.

Upswell Podcast / Episode 4 / Hassan Jaber and Patricia Ortiz

Upswell Podcast / Episode 4 / Hassan Jaber and Patricia Ortiz

October 12, 2018

Challenges surrounding immigration are front and center in our country. The fourth episode of the Upswell Podcast explores how two changemakers – one near Detroit and one in Los Angeles – are working to advance social justice for immigrant communities.

Our first conversation is with Hassan Jaber, executive director and CEO of ACCESS – the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services - in Dearborn, MI. Dedicated to community building and service to all in need, ACCESS provides a range of health and social services to a diverse population, and works to ensure a just and equitable society with the full participation of Arab Americans.

Then you’ll hear from Patricia Ortiz, an immigration attorney and program director for the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles. Esperanza, a branch of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, advocates for the rights of all immigrants, and provides legal and community education services to help immigrants navigate our immigration system.

The migrant story is as old as our country itself. In inspiring and compelling ways, Hassan and Patricia share how their sense of community helps to guide their work to enable and empower those in need. Take a listen!

Upswell Podcast / Episode 3 / Lacy Dawson and Elise Buik

Upswell Podcast / Episode 3 / Lacy Dawson and Elise Buik

October 5, 2018

In order for the democratic process to work for all of us, it is vital that every voice and every concern is heard.

On the third episode of the Upswell Podcast - themed broadly around public policy and advocacy - we talk with two changemakers who work to encourage that every member of their communities has a voice in our shared democracy.

You’ll hear from Lacy Dawson, Table Director of Michigan Voice, a nonpartisan collaboration that works to engage people of color, single women, youth, and low-income individuals in creating a more accessible, inclusive, and representative government.

You’ll also hear from Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. She’s passionate about changing how policymakers think about poverty, and influencing their actions to permanently break the cycle of poverty for Los Angeles County residents.

They may operate on different coasts, but Elise and Lacy are both striving for the same goal – ensuring that the voices of the underrepresented are heard, and that the challenges facing the most vulnerable are met.

Upswell Podcast / Episode 2 / Michele Hodges and Wendy Butts

Upswell Podcast / Episode 2 / Michele Hodges and Wendy Butts

September 28, 2018

Next time you walk down the street, take a look at the people around. There’s one thing that you hold in common with every single person: all of you – all of us – are affected by the environment. For the second episode the Upswell podcast, we’re excited to introduce you to two changemakers who are changing lives by improving the health of the natural world.

Michele Hodges is president of the Belle Isle Conservancy, which protects and renews one of Detroit’s gems. Belle Isle sits between the United States and Canada on the Detroit River and has a remarkable history (and future).

Wendy Butts is CEO of the LA Conservation Corps, which enriches the lives of more than 26,000 young people annually through conservation and service projects. While the LA Conservation Corps is modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, Wendy weaves her international experiences with the Peace Corps into the organization.

So, while we all have the environment in common, Michele and Wendy have had very different experiences in Detroit and Los Angeles, respectively. Click play to find out what we mean!

Upswell Podcast / Episode 1 / John Ziraldo and Victor Reinoso

Upswell Podcast / Episode 1 / John Ziraldo and Victor Reinoso

September 20, 2018

All changemakers are addressing social challenges -- like the environment, or youth development, or homelessness. But each changemaker is unique, and concerns or circumstances that are specific to the communities they serve may or may not make how they address their community’s challenges unique, too.

How do our similarities and differences connect changemakers and the work they do? That's what the Upswell Podcast will explore. In our first episode, we talk with Victor Reinoso, Independent Sector’s Chief Operating Officer, and John Ziraldo, Vice President of Program and Strategy at The Skillman Foundation.

This podcast is powered by Independent Sector through support from the Skillman Foundation. Learn more about Upswell at