Over the years, I’ve worked on a lot of interesting projects that blend digital creativity with community engagement.
I dedicate this section to my penchant for hard work and my passion for online projects that add social value. Flip through these projects to see some of my current and past endeavors. Feel free to drop me a line if you see something that piques your interest.
In May of 2011, I joined a group of Chicago-area Hacks and Hackers to brainstorm ideas for the MoJo Challenge—a project of the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership. Our goal was to imagine new open source applications that could help invent the future of news. Building from the collaborative creativity of peers, I submitted a concept called Curious.
I was invited to attend a four-week Learning Lab, which was the first phase of the Knight-Mozilla fellowship program. At the end of the lab, I demonstrated my application concept through a business brief and interactive prototype. Out of nearly 300 original entries, my concept was one of 20 selected for the second phase of the program. In September I attended a five-day Hackfest in Berlin to expand upon my work from the lab.
Developed by The Mathile Institute, Revolution Hunger is an online, teen-oriented campaign to inspire young people to become active in the fight against hunger. Last May, I began advising the campaign strategy and forming a national youth leadership team. My second role was to train and manage a national team of youth New Media Producers who use digital media as a strategic tool in the fight against hunger.
In August, I flew to Washington, D.C. to help lead a kick-off training for our youth teams in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and DC. I taught sessions on HTML, new media, and online marketing principles, and I led an interactive workshop on how to promote content sharing and increase viral impact. Over the next year, the youth teams will use their knowledge from the training to conduct both online and offline actions to help end hunger.
Link News White Paper
With support from the Knight Foundation, Link Media conducted a nationwide survey to learn how young people consume the news. This research helped to inform the development of the Link News site, an international online news video platform using semantic search technology. After collecting information from young news consumers around the country, Link Media published a white paper of its findings, titled Link News: Helping Youth Engage in the World.
As a member of Link Media’s engagement team, I helped to develop and execute our online outreach strategy. Using our existing networks of nonprofits and youth supporters, we hosted two focus groups and surveyed 659 young people between the ages of 16 and 25. After completing the research, I worked with our team to create the final report.
Youth Building Healthy Communities (YBHC) was a year-long campaign to empower young people in low-income communities to take action to solve local health disparities. Supported by the Kresge Foundation, YBHC was a project of YouthNoise and Link Media.
I led the New Media team for the YBHC campaign. This included training and managing youth bloggers in Detroit, Albuquerque, and Oakland, providing technical support for teams, and developing online strategies to promote youth leadership projects. In addition to supporting our regional team research and action projects, we held trainings, hosted summits, and launched the Green Schools Media Challenge, an online youth video and photo contest featuring celebrity partners Michael Franti and Talib Kweli.
YouthNoise was an online platform that supported youth leadership and social action. With more than 171,000 registered users, YN provided a space for young people to learn about social causes and network with other youth. In late 2010, I was responsible for coordinating online programs and managing our web developers and content producers.
In late 2010, I worked with web contractors to retire the site’s table-based layout, streamline site navigation, emphasize key programs, and create a more youth-friendly appearance and branding structure. Using site metrics, cost analyses, and youth survey data to guide the process, my team successfully launched our redesign in January 2011.
Update: In September 2011, YouthNoise was acquired by Mobilize.org. YN’s content and online programs are now part of a cohesive platform for youth social action under the Mobilize.org domain.
One Chicago, One Nation
One Chicago, One Nation brings together Chicagoans of diverse faiths and cultures, with an emphasis on the Muslim community, to get to know each other through addressing local needs. In 2010, Link TV partnered with One Nation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, and the Interfaith Youth Core to host a film contest and kick off an Ambassador program.
I worked with Link TV to develop and execute the new media outreach strategy for the film contest. This included developing pitch materials, reaching out to more than 50 targeted bloggers and nonprofit supporters, and hiring subcontractors to post more than 150 flyers in universities and select local businesses around Chicago.
Play City was a YouthNoise campaign to promote using sports for social change. I began working with Play City in August 2008 as a part-time blogger, and then began managing the national blog team in early 2009. Between 2008 and 2010, Play City served as an online hub for youth athletes across the nation who wanted to use sports to make a difference.
In my time working with Play City, I worked with my team to launch several nationwide contests and campaigns. Some highlights include:
- Beat Gasoline: Video contest to promote alternative transportation.
- Step It Up: Dance contest in NYC where young teams dance for a cause.
- Play It Forward: The Coach of the Year Award, created in partnership with Up2Us.
- Less Hate, More Skate: Campaign to repeal “No Skate” laws. Included an online petition, offline events, and a video contest.
Media Make Change
In 2009 I began working on Media Make Change, a charitable start-up project to use social media for social change. Working with my friend and colleague, Tara L. Conley, I helped to form a board of directors and began developing projects in New York City and Chicago to use online media to address social issues such as poverty, natural disasters, and the digital divide.
Our first key project involved working with organizations in Haiti to provide earthquake survivors and volunteer relief workers with digital tools to tell their stories. We also led a workshop at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, titled Social Media for Social Justice 101. Although I am no longer actively working on the project, I believe in the mission, vision, and potential of Media Make Change to make a difference in the world.