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Education / 2013


Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by GlobalGirl Media

Los Angeles is one of the largest producers of media in the world in terms of television and films, and more recently, online/broadband media. The creation and consumption of this media is an integral aspect of growing up in Los Angeles. But with 45% of households in L.A. not earning enough to cover basic expenses, the chances that young people have to influence or participate in media is limited. Even with the explosion of new media formats and delivery platforms, marginalized L.A. youth, particularly young women, continue to be underrepresented both behind the camera and in front of it — creating a “digital divide.” For a city so advanced and connected through film/media technologies, it is still shocking how it is one of the more disconnected cities in terms of integrating neighborhoods, cultural/arts groups, and young people, and how so much of the media industry continues to lock out the female voice. GlobalGirl Media (GGM) develops the voice and media literacy of teenage girls in under-served communities in Los Angeles by teaching them to create and share digital journalism designed to ignite civic engagement and social change. Our model is unique in that it pairs girls in L.A. with girls in the developing world, creating a peer-to-peer international network of girls that communicate via new media, co-producing POV-style journalism content that informs, engages and challenges its audience to action. GGM currently has projects in South Africa, Morocco, Chicago and Los Angeles, where it is headquartered. While teenage girls are by far the most active demographic on social media, they are still more consumers rather than creators. Research has shown that girls’ relationships, self-esteem and school performance are oftentimes negatively impacted by the more time they spend online, (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2011). GGM believes young women need to be creating their own media rather than consuming it. We envision a worldwide movement where young women are learning to challenge, innovate and reshape their worlds through digital media. With the explosive growth of “edutech” and digital learning programs across the nation, GGM sees itself as a collaborative, innovative and leading partner in this movement, by promoting diverse, cross-cultural viewpoints from a demographic rarely heard from in this arena: the young female voice. Founded in 2010, GGM was inspired by other youth media and digital literacy projects in Los Angeles, where community-based journalism, storytelling and filmmaking workshops are reshaping young people’s lives (LA Freewaves, Urban Media Foundation, Intersections South LA, Boyle Heights Beat, Venice Arts, HOLA, Echo Park Film School, etc.) We are proposing a GLOBALGIRLS MEDIA HIVE NETWORK, working together with these like-minded organizations to amplify the civic voices, aspirations and digital networks of girls to realize a more connected, equitable and sustainable future for Los Angeles. We are seeking funding to develop this hive, to be hosted at the Robert F. Kennedy Digital Media Learning Lab, inviting girls from all our networked programs to participate in a weekly after-school digital media lab throughout the school year, with a 4-week intensive kick-off course in the summer of 2013. Our program will train an initial 60 teen-age girls in digital literacy, solutions-based journalism, HD video production, web 2.0 basics, cell phone filming/texting and on-air media training. The girls will work in production teams and select their own subject matter, which will focus on issues of particular relevance to their lives, such as violence against women; sexuality, reproductive rights, education and careers, food and obesity, bullying and cyber relationships, education, arts, sports, music and culture. Visiting lectures by leading women professionals in media are incorporated into the curriculum, and the training also includes field trips to local newspapers, radio and television stations, maker/hacker spaces, youtube studios, etc. Our impact is as global as the reach of the internet and cellphone technology. More than just giving girls the skills they need to create original media--we make sure it’s seen. Our interactive website is a place where girls can safely upload and watch their videos, post blogs, play games, add comments, and interact with young mediamakers throughout the world. After the summer training, The GLOBALGIRLS MEDIA HIVE will become a safe haven/hangout for girls all across Los Angeles who can drop in, create media, share stories and otherwise network with each other throughout the school year. Although there are a finite number of girls being trained each year (60) as GlobalGirl Reporters, the hive hangout will be open to any girl in Los Angeles. Literally a HIVE of activity, girls will be producing local news programs, films, games, phone apps and media content that improves the overall quality of young womens’ lives in Los Angeles.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

As of June 2012, GGM has implemented initiatives in seven cities in South Africa, Morocco, Chicago and L.A., training more than 120 young women, who have produced 150 video features using traditional camera and sound; 85 mobile journalism pieces on I-pod touch devices; and 200 blog reports that were distributed through trans-media platforms, predominantly online, but also including print, broadcast TV and cable, cell phones, radio and social media. We have built a significant social media following, with 5,000 visitors per month to our website, 4,800 Twitter followers and 3,500 Facebook members (across four regional groups).

Our work has been supported by the Nike Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Soros Foundation, World Bank, Durfee Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, Abigail Disney, Eileen Fisher Foundation, and our work has been featured on PBS, ESPN, ABC, NBC, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, GritTV, Democracy NOW, KCET, KCRW, Participant’s Take, The Standard (South Africa), Hess Press (Morocco), etc.

In Los Angeles, we have trained a total of 30 young women, with 10 still actively working as GlobalGirl “citizen journalists.” We just launched our first webisode series, sponsored by Latino Public Broadcasting and the NEA, featured on (PBS global site). Titled COMO AMAR (“How to Love,”)

OTHER LOS ANGELES SUCCES STORIES: • All GlobalGirls who have taken our training in the past two years have graduated high school and are attending college, some with full scholarships to: Wellesley, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz. • GGM L.A. Reporter Wendy Garcia won 2nd place in the National ConnectHer Video Contest at Harvard • GGM L.A. Reporter Rocio Ortega was selected as the only minority Girl Up! National Spokesperson and won a Congressional Merit Award from Congresswoman Grace Napolitano. • GGM Reporter Imani Crenshaw was featured on the popular online news show: MOMS/Maker’s Studio, generating 40,000 hits.

The Huffington Post profiled Global Girl Media and says it is “leading the way in empowering and inspiring our next generation of leaders.”

Ambassador Melaane Verveer, from the Global Womens Issues Office at the US State Dept. meets with GGM reporters from LA and South Africa US State Department

Participant Media’s online community-builder, Take says GGM “tells stories that empower their communities.”

Seventeen Magazine chose Global Girl Media as the “Cool Charity” that everyone should be on the lookout for.

Fast Company named GlobalGirl Media one of the top 5 groups that should win Google’s Journalism Prize.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our confirmed Los Angeles partners include: A Place Called Home Boyle Heights Beat Eddefy HOLA, Heart of Los Angeles Intersections South LA at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism LA Freewaves LA Maker Space Miguel Contreras Learning Center Peace Over Violence Skirball Cultural Center WAM! (A women’s media project through Santa Monica College) Skirball Cultural Center Santa Monica, Venice and Salesian Boys and Girls Clubs

Our potential partners Include: (presently in discussion) A Better LA Adobe Youth Media Annenberg Innovation Lab 826LA Black Women for Wellness Echo Park Film School The HeArt LA Expo Center LACMA Youth Programs Urban Media Foundation Venice Arts WriteGIrl

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

While many digital news training programs and sites produce great content, they stop short of really activating their audience, finding out how that content influences and shapes lives. We at GGM are especially interested in how our training and the girls’ stories impact themselves and their communities.

GlobalGirl Media tracks its success and achievements through many indicators, both quantitatively and qualitatively. We assess our GlobalGirl participants before, during and post-training, and we follow-up with questionaires and face-to-face interviews through our mentorship program. In addition, we collect and analyze data from our website and social media sites, through popular engagement metrics such as Chartbeat, Facebook Insights, GetClicky, etc.

However, we also acknowledge the pitfalls of evaluating this population and we are looking beyond the number of hits a video or website gets to really assessing the impact on our participants, their families and peers. We will be working with Kimberley Silver, the Director of Mission Measurement, LLC a strategy consulting firm that helps clients to create value through social change. They will help us track elusive and intangible outcomes such as college readiness, financial stability, policy change and public awareness. We can then create new data through smart proxies and develop reliable insights that inform strategic decisions that will better help us communicate persuasively with our audience and future donors.

Because this will be the first time we work with such a large network of other organizations, we will collaborate on a robust evaluation program with best practices developed by these other organizations. We are keen to include more long-term evaluations of all our participants, tracking such measurables as girls’ grades, motivation, family relationships, etc. before and after their participation in all our programs. We also are dedicated to assessing how our videos and blogs are changing/shaping our youth viewers, and are presently designing an in-depth evaluation that will provide a better picture of how our audience goes from users to investors, in terms of both social capitols and/or as content contributors, volunteers, commentators, donors, or subscribers.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Anyone who lives in Los Angeles is aware of the glaring disparities between wealth, education and access, and how these schisms play out in the media. Girls in our target communities are grappling with a 45% high school dropout rate, gang and drug violence, high rates of teen pregnancy, and the overall challenges of growing up with limited resources. It doesn’t help when they are also bombarded with highly sensationalistic reporting and negative stereotypes in film, television and music videos, rather than providing positive images and role-models.

Being able to tell one’s own story and believe in one’s own voice is the beginning of being able to advocate for all forms of social justice. GGM believes its model of interactive, peer-based media training through which young women seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern can lead to real systemic change. Our training provides a fun, connected, and personalized education experience that recognizes girls’ strengths in technology and media, areas where they don’t necessarily gravitate. This in turn helps them stay focused, stay in school, develop and demonstrate skills and abilities for jobs and economic development.

The potential of increasing access for women and girls to new media technology is exponential. Once one young woman experiences the transformative benefits of the program, she often becomes a “transmitter” introducing others in her community to her ideas and work, creating a ripple effect of change. Girls who are feeling disconnected can start to feel “connected” throughout our hive network, seeking out mentors, apprenticeships and other GlobalGirls from across L.A. and other countries.

What we are really doing is advocating for a girl-driven global “digital citizenship,” where girls harness social media for social change, sharing and transferring their new knowledge with other girls who interact internationally on our website, games, apps and blogs, who in turn build on that knowledge and remix it for their own needs, then pay it forward by sharing/resharing that knowledge.

In contrast to our target area’s dropout rate, GGM graduates have a 100% high school enrollment/graduation rate and a 90% college enrollment rate. Further, 69% have continued to report for the L.A. bureau beyond their initial training. Girls who have taken our training talk about the power of connectivity, authorship and how making their own media gives them confidence to build brighter futures.

In a recent Ted Talk, GlobalGirl Rocio Ortega said this: “GlobalGirl Media taught me for the first time the value of my own voice, I worked with Tebogo form South Africa, and although we have similar dreams and ambitions, we learn from our different experiences…I thought I was alone in my struggle with my father and my culture. My opportunity with GGM has helped me to speak my mind and express my ideas– we’ve not only become global sisters, but advocates for change in our community…”

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Success will be thriving, connected, innovative and safe digital learning space for young women in Los Angeles. Most critical to our success, more girls from low-income communities in Los Angeles will be more likely to stay in school, stay connected and excited about learning, and have a more global view of the world.

Our GLOBALGIRLS HIVE NETWORK will launch hundreds of confident, empowered and opinionated young women into the job market of Los Angeles, building new digital start-ups, leading the way in innovative media and digital educaton initiatives that will put L.A. on the map as a city where women, and particularly African American and Latina women in new media technologies are breaking new ground. Yes, L.A. presently ranks third in the nation in terms of entrepreneurship and digital start-ups, but this growing “silicon beach” spirit must include more women, half the population of Los Angeles (!), if it is to truly transform our city.

Our success will also mean that girls will be contributing to the larger L.A. media landscape, improving access for women to professional careers in print and broadcast journalism, film and television production, new media, gaming, etc. In 2050, we see gender parity in all areas of media, due to the work of GlobalGirl Media: more female news editors and news directors, more female film/TV directors, cinematographers, producers, writers. More media that doesn’t dumb down, sexualize or otherwise stereotype women and girls.

Research by Stacy Smith at the Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender and Media finds a causal relationship between female content creators and positive female portrayals in media. GGM imagines a world where young girls engage in these positive images, breaking personal boundaries and ultimately beginning to shift cultural and societal gender perceptions, having a monumental impact on the entertainment industry.

Encouraged by the explosive growth in broadband TV and broadband producers (100% growth in the last 12 months to become a 6 billion dollar industry) our success will also be to expand from our current model to create a full-service broadband distribution channel – a “thinking girls global YouTube” – that not only features work produced by GlobalGIrl Media reporters, but also includes news stories about issues pertinent to young women the world over. This GlobalGirl broadband channel will investigate what it means to be a girl today, streaming online news content by, for and about girls, and will become the “go-to” place for girls around the world, as well as researchers, reporters and teachers that will use the content for their specific needs.