Call for Proposals: Community Conversation Mini-Grants

Local Voices Speak Up About a Changing Energy Workforce:

1.7 million people in the United States work in fossil fuel sectors including oil, gas, and coal operations. With climate change, our local economy is changing and more work is being shifted to focus on renewable energy. How do we make this workforce transition work for all? 

We’re announcing a first-ever recorded conversations initiative that seeks to better understand the life experiences of those in communities most reliant on fossil fuel jobs. 

We are excited to partner with journalists, community organizations, local leaders, schools and others to organize local conversations within your communities. 

Interested partners:

Read the Call for Proposals below and submit your application. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout March 2023:

Our Ask:

We’re inviting community partners from around the country to host small group (4 – 6 person) recorded conversations with people you know who are most affected by a changing energy workforce. Partners can host up to 10 conversations. 

Partners will receive $1,000 per conversation hosted and individuals participating in the conversations will also receive $40 stipends for their participation.  

Conversations will be shared broadly by Cortico and Deloitte (and local partners) to give community voices from around the country a better chance of creating real impact. 

Additional Details:

Together, we hope to document and learn about the fears, hopes, opportunities, and barriers facing people in your communities amid current and potential fossil fuel workforce shifts. We will share insights and recommend solutions from these experiences that might improve the future of our local economies.To do this, we need to work with local partners who can organize community conversations and ask the right questions. Unlike focus groups, we are looking for partners to invite people to share real life experiences

Questions in this process are designed to spark conversation, not elicit opinion. Some examples include: How are you feeling about the potential of a shift away from fossil fuels? How will this/has this transition affect(ed) you and your family? What’s your best and worst case vision for where your community will be five years from now? Through this opportunity, partners will connect with each other and with Cortico and Deloitte, using innovative tools from MIT Center for Constructive Communication (MIT CCC) to create a more engaged process for collecting local experiences around the energy workforce transition.

For more information about Cortico & MIT CCC’s conversation collection process, watch this short video.

Key Dates & Deliverables:

Conversations will be facilitated and recorded in March and April, with an estimated 5 – 6 hours per partner needed.  

Partner deliverables include:

  • Attending a virtual launch meeting & question planning session (60 minutes)
  • Attending a facilitator orientation session (90 minutes)
  • Recruiting 4-6 participants per conversation you host 
  • Facilitating and recording a minimum of one conversation in March & April (90 minutes) 

Partners can be individuals or organizations. We’re most excited to receive applications from journalists, students, local leaders, and community non-profits.


Partners will receive $1,000 per conversation hosted and may host up to 10 conversations.

Additional funding will also be provided to compensate community members ($40/person) for their participation in your conversation(s).

For example, if you host one conversation with 6 people in attendance, you will receive $1,000 and each of the 6 participants will receive $40 for their participation. (with the max amount of conversations you can host being 10)

Application Process & Selection Criteria:

Interested partners will be expected to fill out this simple application form. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout March 2023: 

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and partner candidates will be notified of their application status within 2 – 3 business days of their submission. All eligible partners will then have a 30-minute follow-up call with a member of the Cortico team to discuss next steps.

Selection criteria include:

  • Experience organizing community conversations and/or other public forums for discussion.
  • Interest in understanding how the most impacted community members feel about today’s energy economy.
  • Relationships with community members who are most reliant on fossil fuel jobs.


Please reach out anytime via email or phone to Kim Mota, Partner Support Lead at Cortico: or 617-404-9812.

Selected partners will be working closely with Deloitte and the non-profit Cortico:

Deloitte’s more than 345,000 employee professionals perform work that helps reinforce public trust in capital markets, enables clients to transform and thrive, and leads the way toward a stronger economy, a more equitable society, and a sustainable world. Deloitte has a 175-plus year history and operates in more than 150 countries and territories.

For over 20 years, Deloitte has helped organizations make progress toward delivering sustainable value for their stakeholders – from investors, customers and business partners, to regulators, governments, and communities. In April 2022, Deloitte announced a significant expansion and investment in Deloitte Sustainability & Climate, a global practice serving clients as they define a path to a more sustainable future. Building upon decades of sustainability and climate client service, Deloitte is assembling one of the largest global networks of sustainability experience including an investment of US$1 billion in client-related services, data-driven research, and assets and capabilities.

At Cortico, we believe civic life can be revitalized when we hold space for constructive conversation. Recognizing traditionally underheard voices can yield improved understanding and communication across boundaries. We must create civic spaces where perspectives shared by community members grounded in their identity and experiences sparks more informed and transparent decisions from leaders.

Cortico’s Local Voices Network (LVN) brings people together in recorded small-group conversations around their life experiences. Through a powerful combination of deep human listening and artificial intelligence, LVN enables partners to make sense of the conversations they collect by amplifying typically underheard voices, informing public understanding, driving better policymaking, and enabling unforeseen connections across the ideological spectrum. 

LVN’s unique human-machine system is the product of an effort led by the media technology non-profit Cortico in cooperation with MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication.

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Cortico is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization led by a multidisciplinary team of experts in community engagement, technology and non-profit management. We strive to meld two elements not typically found in one space: technological innovation and community-centered advocacy. We'd love to keep you up to date on what we're doing!