Global Kids, Inc. is a nationally recognized leader in using digital media to promote global awareness and youth civic engagement. Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program (OLP) integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy, foster substantive online dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation.
Since it was launched in 2000, the OLP has built strong collaborative relationships with Microsoft, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the game-design company Gamelab, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, UNICEF, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Time Warner Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, Google Grants, the Center for Children and Technology, and Linden Labs, among others. The OLP was selected as part of Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning Mid-Tier initiative, which seeks to find and support “pockets of innovation” for increasing digital literacy and career readiness, and recognized by the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.
Global Kids has presented the work of the OLP to the United Nations; WNET-Thirteen; the Spencer and Macarthur foundations; the National Education and Computing Conference; the Game Developers Conference; the Games For Change Conference; The Serious Games Conference; The University of Wisconsin’s Games, Learning & Society Conference; MIT’s Education Arcade; the Microsoft World Wide School of the Future Summit; the Margaret Meade Film Festival; and the Parsons School of Design; among others.
Currently, the OLP is accomplishing its goals through initiatives within four areas:
Digital Media Initiative (DMI): Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the DMI is a series of interrelated programs designed to encourage and support teenagers to think critically about the role of digital media in their lives, promote their constructive use of new media forms, and document their experiences. Within the program, Global Kids uses online dialogues, virtual worlds, machinima, essay contests, podcasts, blogs, and other venues to gather valuable feedback and views from young people about their relationship with emerging media. These youth voices are being used by the Macarthur Foundation to inform its new Digital Media and Learning Initiative. For more information, go to dmi.globalkids.org.
Gaming: Global Kids is a pioneer in the field of socially conscious online games. Through the Playing 4 Keeps program, young people at South Shore High School in Brooklyn gain the skills necessary to build challenging online games about world issues. In 2005-2006, they worked with professional game designers to develop the challenging game Ayiti: The Cost of Life (theCostofLife.org), which uses the location of Haiti to educate players about the obstacles to education faced by children in developing countries. In addition, Global Kids played a founding role in Games For Change, which brings together non-profits and their partners to explore the use of digital games to advance organizational mission and societal change.
Virtual Worlds: After extensive research, in 2006 Global Kids became the first organization to conduct public programs within the virtual world of Teen Second Life. Since then, Global Kids has adapted a host of experiential workshops to be conducted within the environment, through which teens from around the world have learned about such topics as racism, the genocide in Darfur, public diplomacy, and the digital divide. Following a summer program in 2006, a team of youth created an elaborate maze in TSL that educated thousands of youth about child trafficking. Global Kids now conducts an ongoing Power of Citizenry leadership program in the space, brings youth from NYC-based programs into the environment, and has undertaken collaborative projects with UNICEF, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Youth Ventures, and others.
Dialogues: Global Kids’ online dialogues use the unique Youth Circles approach to create an intimate, respectful space for substantive conversations among young people. Our ongoing Newz Crew program (NewzCrew.org), which combines GK’s methodology at Canarsie High School, Brooklyn with the award winning content of PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, has been highly evaluated and engaged over five thousand youth worldwide in discussions about current events. GK has also used this approach in youth-focused dialogues following the September 11th attacks, and in collaborative projects with the New York City Council and the Motorola Corporation. In 2007, Global Kids will launch a Youth Circle through which young people will exchange their opinions and stories about the role of digital media in their lives.