Museums, libraries win grants for youth to enhance online learning, community

July 12, 2013
By Elyse Eidman-Aadahl

Sixteen museums, libraries and nonprofit institutions have been awarded a total of $150,000 to engage young people in the development of apps, badges, curricula and other tools that will make the online experience more civil, safe and empowering. The Competition is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, administered by Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), and was carried out in collaboration with Facebook, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and Mozilla.

Competing for grants of up to $10,000 each to support single or multi-day summer programs, the 266 applicants from 41 states plus Washington, D.C., included libraries, community organizations, advocacy groups, museums, non-profits, cultural organizations, youth-serving institutions, and arts organizations.

“The competition this year is designed to engage young people in solving a real-world challenge – making the Internet a safer and more powerful place to advance learning,” said Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation. “The ability to meet that challenge will help determine whether education will be more relevant to both young people and the economy where they will be eventually looking for work.”

The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition is part of the 5th annual Digital Media and Learning Competition that kicked off May 9 with a daylong hackathon in New York City hosted by Facebook, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), MacArthur and Mozilla. This year’s Digital Media and Learning Competition will encourage the development of apps, badges, curricula, and other tools to enhance learning through making the online experience for young people more civil, safe, and empowering. It included the hackathon in New York City in May, the Summer Youth Programming Competition, and a $1.2 million open competition that will launch in the fall.

Proposals were evaluated for their potential to:

  • Actively contribute to the goal of a more equitable, social, safe, and participatory web for all, through the development or testing of new digital tools and learning programs;
  • Bridge social and cultural differences by providing youth with opportunities to learn from and with one another in supportive ways;
  • Provide participatory and hands-on making and learning experiences based on the principles of Connected Learning, an educational approach designed to help prepare young people for a world that is highly networked, technology-enabled, and producing new knowledge at a pace not known to previous generations; and
  • Support online programs and applications that enable privacy and diverse and respectful lifestyles and opinions.

The winning programs effectively encourage civic engagement and community-building; promote civility, equity and safety online; embody Connected Learning principles of interest-powered, peer supported and academically oriented learning; and have a strong plan to ensure participation and project success.

The 16 winners are: The Clay Studio’s Claymobile Outreach Claymation Learning Labs; University of Arizona Foundation and The Feminist Wire’s LoveMaps; GlobalGirl Media’s Summer Training Academies; New York Public Radio (WNYC)’s “That Could Be Your Sister” Design Challenge; Colorado State University’s Making Equity; Racquet Up Detroit’s RU Connected; Digital Harbor Foundation’s WebSlam; Filipino American Human Services’ Connected LYFE; Neighborhood Associates Corporation’s Our Community, Our Environment; Catholic Social Services Out of School Time Programs’ Cyber Cadets Summer Workshop; Jacob Burns Film Center’s Reel Change: Community Vision; Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation’s Connected Messages; Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion’s Digital Media for Social Justice; Appalachian Media Institute’s Digital Citizenship Lab; ThreeSixty Journalism’s Journalism and Communications Lab; and Eyebeam’s Digital Day Camp.

Read more about each project at the Project:Connect website here.

From July through September, the winning organizations will host local hands-on events where young people collaborate and compete to build a better web through activities such as hackathons, digital learning labs, maker spaces, badge development workshops, and digital journalism and mentoring workshops. All the events are part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, in which dozens of organizations are engaging young people, parents, teachers and others in creating learning opportunities designed for our times.

Assisting with judging were members of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which partnered with MacArthur’s YOUMedia this past year to create the Born Brave Bus, a national bus tour committed to empowering youth and inspiring bravery in communities across the country.

The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition and all Digital Media and Learning Competitions are administered by HASTAC through grants from the MacArthur Foundation to the University of California at Irvine.