People, Ideas & Action

Elevating Equity

Elevating Equity sub-logo with art elements

Elevating Equity in New Jersey, our newest program, co-created in partnership with Justin Laing, Hillombo LLC, is evolving into a multi-pronged approach to identifying oppression in our social sector and designing actions that dismantle those systems, build resistance to those oppressive systems, and advance the creation and commitment of equitable organizations and processes.

Our Elevating Equity community includes nearly 100 people from nonprofits, philanthropy, government, and community groups.

Our community members are located in 13 of New Jersey’s 21 counties plus members in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
This community represents people racialized as Black, African American, Latino, Asian, Indian/Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American, and White.
Our community members are from fields and industries spanning....
Racial, social and environmental justice, education, health, arts, municipal and regional planning, local government, community development, media, immigrant support services, housing and homelessness, social services, management consulting, youth leadership, workforce development, local business, and philanthropy.
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Our Framework

Our program partner Justin Laing brings his expertise in designing anti-racist and anti-oppression programs coupled with his deep knowledge of adaptive leadership and multiple frameworks, including Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” which became the foundational framework used for Elevating Equity.

In collaboration with a team of anti-racist experts, facilitators and documenters (see their names below), Justin and our Gathering Ground team engaged our diverse Elevating Equity community in a journey that resulted in:

  • A dialogical approach that examines personal stories of oppression;
  • The teaching of an anti-oppressive framework that can be replicated and scaled, and one that strengthens our muscle to be able to name the oppressors (our social sector is good at naming the oppressed but loathe to specifically name those who are carrying out the oppressive acts – meaning, ourselves);
  • The coalescing of a community of people dedicated to taking action that disrupts oppression in their organizations, communities, or in the social sector at-large;
  • A cohort-wide commitment to staying mutually accountable to each other.


Over time, the above offers a transformative experience beginning with learning and moving towards anti-racist and anti-oppression actions and outcomes.

Let us know how you are gathering ground with creating a more just and fair social sector!

Inaugural Cohort

Launched in February 2022, 12 hours of workshop training followed by ongoing engagement in the Community of Practice.

Feb 25, 2022

Compendium of Knowledge & Action

This is a guide to all that we learned during the creation and implementation of Elevating Equity throughout 2021 and 2022.

Download the CompendiumOct 01, 2022

Reflection & Action Center

In 2023, we are building an online Reflection and Action Center - a public hub for the learning, action and stories about oppression and resistance that are arising from this work.

Jan 1, 2023

Second Cohort

Coming in 2024!  Information sessions will be held later in 2023 for individuals interested in joining the second cohort.

Join our Mailing list for Info2023 & 2024

Get Involved!

Please reach out if you want more information or want to get involved in Elevating Equity in New Jersey.

Let us know how you are gathering ground with creating a more just and fair social sector!

Contact UsGet involved today!


Elevating Equity is not possible without an abiding practice of collectivity and generous collaboration on behalf of the program’s team, for which Gathering Ground is deeply thankful. We offer our tremendous gratitude to Justin Laing / Hillombo LLC with whom we have engaged to co-create Elevating Equity.

We also give our big thanks to an amazing working group that advised and provided feedback on the development of Elevating Equity:
Ivette Guillermo-McGahee
Andrea McChristian

Brandon McKoy
Derek Minno-Bloom
Grace Penn
Evan Sanchez
Alysia Souder

and an incredible team of racial and social justice facilitators and documenters that continue to engage and support a committed and courageous cohort of anti-oppression project creators.

Bonnie Cushing
Tyneisha Gibbs
Drew Giddings
Dr. Francoise Kazimierczuk
Derek Minno-Bloom
Orville Morales
Yvette Murry
Sharon Stroye
Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds

J. Crystal Adams
Chantel Fletcher
Rosslin Mensah-Boateng
JacQueline Mestre
Renee Shalhoub
Sheldon Steele
Marcelo Vargas Banos
Bernice Vasquez

We also gratefully acknowledge the generous leadership support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for making this work possible. We also thank the Community Foundation of New Jersey for supporting the program as a fiscal sponsor in 2021-22.