A new social media community specifically created by and for people of color and targeted to nonprofit professionals in Western New York is now available on the Mobilize Platform. Branded as “LOC Step,”(Leaders of Color: Socializing to Encourage Progression), the community was created in response to a need for specific spaces where people of color can connect, with the purpose of sharing resources and ideas within the spirit of a thoughtful, generous, and supportive community. Transparency, safety, and authenticity are the underlying values of the online community.
The idea to create the online community came out of discussions at a series of Community Conversations for Leaders of Color hosted by The John R. Oishei Foundation. The Community Conversations were created specifically for nonprofit professionals of color to provide time and space for conversation, connection, and potential action as determined by the group. Participants noted the value of the gatherings and suggested the creation of an online community that would afford them the opportunity to connect and share at any time.
An oversight committee of five has worked to develop the community and to attract new members while representing the larger group’s interest and vision for the community. Their activities included a review of platforms and then working with Mobilize, a social media platform that hosts private social media communities, to better understand the site’s functionality, strategize on what to offer on the site, and learn techniques on how to grow the online community.
The group established the purpose and values for the community and worked with Yen Azzaro, Jared Threat, and graphic designer Danielle Burruss, founder of Everything Branding to create a name, logo, and brand identity. The Oishei Foundation provided financial and technical support for the platform and assisted in creating the online community in partnership with the oversight committee.
According to Durgham Alyasiri, a LOC Step Oversight Committee Member, “Finding spaces where only people of color can connect and share experiences and perspectives with those who understand and have similar life experiences can be so uplifting and it takes away the burden of being the only person of color in the room. Creating the LOC Step community is our way of creating that gathering space so that we can experience immediate connection regularly in a way that is convenient and safe. We also see this as a way to create in-person interactions, using the platform as a place to inform and invite members to connect.”
LOC Step offers standard social media features including the ability to create a profile, post information including photos, videos, and text, as well as functionality to like and share content. Events and job postings are also features that can be posted and viewed by members. Subgroups for specific interests can be created on the platform by members and LOC Step already includes subgroups for a Spotlight Series to highlight the achievements of members and a Book Discussion Club. The Book Club has become a popular feature and has grown to include in-person discussions for members who met and began book discussions online.
Interested participants are encouraged to join and explore the new site. After logging on at https://locstep.mobilize.io/registrations/groups/48127, visitors will be asked to fill out a short registration form and attest to being a person of color before entering the community.
The John R. Oishei Foundation is the most comprehensive private foundation in Western New York focusing on a broad range of interrelated issues and offering philanthropic support that goes far beyond funding. Our mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership, and network building. The Foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.