Help Design Upswell 2022

In 2022, Independent Sector is offering a series of virtual Upswell experiences all meant to build your sense of community with other leaders, focus on your self and community care needs, and help you navigate the opportunities and challenges around creating a healthy and just nation and world.

We’re seeking exceptional content that will move the needle on these extraordinarily complicated and expansive challenges – the kind that can drive our community to action and leave a lasting impact.

Submit a Session Idea

What Is Upswell 2022 All About?

Creating a racially just nation is our mission. We know our community leaders have the answers, but here are some ways we are focusing our collective efforts:

  • Across various missions, organizational types, leadership styles, changemakers build a shared sense of community to achieve ambitious goals we have for our sector and nation. We strive to be locally grounded, community-informed, and driven by the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities – to lead organizations and systems toward our shared vision.

  • Self and community care is tantamount to our shared liberation. We are interconnected and philanthropy and social good cannot be a zero-sum game if we aim to ensure that all people thrive.

  • We bridge differences toward justice and belonging. Even among like-minded groups, each of us brings our own cultures, societal burdens, and privileges. Finding ways to build bridges across our shared humanity while acknowledging and appreciating what makes each of us different is the way we create true belonging and a just nation.

Here’s what you’ll need for a successful proposal:


How do we achieve racial and social justice on all levels – personal, community, organization- and sector-wide, and in our society at large. What are the opportunities? What is standing in our way?


Your title and description should clearly and concisely outline your vision for the proposed session (and get participants excited, too).


How do you plan to engage participants? Who is your ideal audience? And what are few meaningful ways that your session will make the participants more effective changemakers?


What’s ideal amount of program time you’d need to successfully deliver your session?

Diversity & Inclusion

We aim to dedicate at least 75% of program space to the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and others who sit at the intersections of those identities. So, please include the demographics of your session presenter(s).

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • The content is focused on our shared mission.
  • Your content is unique, relevant/timely, and furthers the goals listed above.
  • Your ability to effectively deliver your content and engage participants in a virtual environment.
  • The session offers tools, skills, knowledge, and resources.
  • The session has clear and actionable takeaways.
  • Your title is engaging and provides a clear sense of your content.
  • Your description succinctly outlines key takeaways and provides a clear overview of the content to be presented.
  • Your session includes Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) speakers.
  • The session acknowledges that goodwill and good ideas exist on both sides of the ideological divide.

The deadline for Upswell 2022 submissions is February 25, 2022. If you have any questions, please email

Submit a Session Idea

Proposal FAQs

What are the deadlines?

The submission period for speaker proposals will begin on January 18, 2022. The submission portal will close on February 25, 2022. All submitted proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a diverse selection committee through the end of February.

We will notify accepted proposals beginning March 9, 2022.

Will speakers be compensated?

Independent Sector is committed to equitably compensating its presenters and speakers. If you are speaking in a role as a staff or volunteer with a nonprofit or community-based organization, we will work with you on an honorarium for your speaking commitment. In order to ensure our resources are being distributed equitably, we will not be offering an honorarium to workshop or Spark Talk speakers who are representing philanthropic or corporate institutions.

What are the criteria and review process?

All submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by Independent Sector’s diverse content review committee that consists of the Upswell team, key stakeholders, partners, community leaders, and specific cohorts of past attendees.

Can a proposal be submitted by a team?

Absolutely! You can pitch an idea with friends, colleagues, or strangers. You don’t have to be at the same organization or even in the same field.

Can I submit more than one proposal?

Yes! You can submit multiple proposals. Just be sure the content is different and submit a separate form for each proposal.

Can I edit a submitted proposal?

Yes, you can modify your proposal submission by emailing us at

These are the answers to the most common questions we receive. Don’t see your question above? Email and we’ll be glad to answer it.

Join the Wave

Upswell, powered by Independent Sector, is a community of thousands of engaged, passionate, and diverse changemakers – and the energy is constantly buzzing.

Join our digital stream to hear the latest news about Upswell 2022, explore stories of good from across the country, and get a new perspective on what comes next for the social sector.