RiseUP Update: Let’s make real industry change together

If you’ve been following along with me, or Media Cause, or our co-founder Eric Facas, for any length of time, you’ve probably seen us mention our RiseUP Marketing Fellowship on more than a few occasions. We can’t help it. It’s both a passion project and imperative in our field.

We launched RiseUP last year because we saw, and believed, that there weren’t enough opportunities out there for diverse, talented, and ambitious folx—regardless of background, education, or experience—to get their feet in the door of the marketing, advertising, and nonprofit industries. There’s always a catch, right? Like the age-old “you need experience to get experience” conundrum. Or the self-selecting policies of many big-name advertising internships that only recruit from top-tier universities, which leaves anyone else—including parents re-entering the workforce, career changers, those who’ve taken other educational routes, or those who don’t have the privilege of being able to say ‘yes’ to unpaid work—out in the cold.

Nearly 200 people applied to our Fellowship this Spring because they’ve been in this situation of wanting to grow, to learn, to gain that critical experience, but not finding anyone who would offer them the opportunity to do it. I have to imagine that if we’d kept our application period open for longer than two weeks, we could have reached hundreds (thousands? I dunno, I dream big) more people who have everything it takes to succeed—except an open door.

After helping to develop RiseUP with our co-founder and several other stellar members of the Media Cause team last year, I humbly accepted the honor of taking-over the program’s leadership this past December. One of my biggest goals for 2021 is not just to open doors for the three Fellows we’re able to take on this Spring, but to start growing the program over time so that we’re eventually able to offer 10, or 20, or hell, even 200 amazing people the skills, support, and hands-on experience to launch their careers, and break down some of the barriers that have been stifling our industries for far too long.

We’ve already put up $100,000 of our agency’s own money to get RiseUP off the ground, but that’s only going to take us so far. We’ve got super high aspirations for what this program can accomplish, and we’re well aware that we can’t do it alone.

To keep it going and growing, we need to build collaborations and partnerships throughout all three of the industries we work in.

We’ve already partnered with Thinkful, We Are Next, COOP, and several other diversity-focused job boards to help reach more applicants, and have brought on three amazing nonprofits—Brownicity, Creative Reaction Lab, and Active Plus NYC—to provide our Spring cohort of Fellows with hands-on client experience, while also helping to support each of their organizations’ socially-driven missions along the way.

But we still need more. (Cue Veruca Salt, but in a much less whiny and far more altruistic way.) We need ideas and input and resources and collaboration from everyone, and everywhere.

We also need funds. There, I said it.

So friends, colleagues, and long-distance social media acquaintances, here is my super-from-the-heart / best-fundraising-impersonator pitch to all of you:

If you work at an agency that might want to sponsor our Fellows–and maybe even hire them—after they finish our training program…

If you’re a foundation, company, or private funder who believes in our mission and wants to invest in changing the culture and fabric of our industry …

If you’re a rockstar individual who wants to share your wealth of knowledge as a RiseUp mentor or host a lunch-n-learn for our crew…

Please give me a shout at amy@mediacause.org

I clearly love talking about this, and would be happy to do more of it with you.