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Trusted Messenger: Darren Nichols
LIFTxVoices Program
Danielle Brown, LIFT Project Director and panelists at LIFTxShine Symposium in 2023.
Kyndell Harkeness LIFTxShine Lecture at MSU 2023

Watch the video above to learn more about Darren Nichols, a Detroit Free Press Columnist and the first Black Midwest Trusted Messenger featured from our LIFTxVoices Program. Then, sneak behind the scenes with PopUp Docs to see more what it's like to with local high school students on this data visualization project. 

Danielle Brown working with student at East Lansing Library's during the LIFTxVoices Workshop w/Jarrad Henderson's PopUp Docs

The LIFT Project is an engaged research effort centered on utilizing news media to inform communities and encourage them to engage in their communities and in politics as informed citizens. We seek to create a more engaging, informative and complete journalism industry and news information ecosystem, especially for Black communities that have been misrepresented in news media, prioritized in inclusion efforts but ultimately inadequately served by journalism industries. 

Our research achieves this mission by prioritizing research and engagement efforts that center on identifying networks of trusted messengers in Black communities in the Black Midwestern communities to: 1) understand their effects on civic and democratic life; 2) create, network and allocate resources needed to better inform communities;  and 3) build new opportunities for sustainable reparative narrative change.


The project began in 2022 in Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota, and was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Combatting Disinformation in Communities of Color Fund. Key data findings from our work in Minneapolis and St. Paul were presented during the LIFT Symposium and summaries of data findings are available here. This project informs a broader initiative and effort to support resilience and reparative narrative change in media and for Black communities.  

We are currently launching data collection efforts in Michigan, while continuing to seek partners and collaborators to expand the work. We're interested in working with and supporting researchers, students, journalists, faith leaders, and activists in Midwest and around the United States to create a comprehensive and community-directed effort. Check out our current team members and, please consider sharing our work with others. 

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